Afternoon tea aficionados know that the iconic service can span an entire afternoon and encompass much more than tea. This distinctly British custom traces back to the mid-19th century when Anna the seventh Duchess of Bedford would feel peckish between lunch and dinner. She began calling for a tray of tea with sandwiches and cake around 4 o’clock, eventually inviting friends to join for the deliciousness.
Underscored by ceremony and commentary, the practice quickly caught on and became a fixture of British society. Today, the traditions of afternoon tea are alive and well, preserved and reimagined in parlors the world over — sometimes opulent, often elegant, always indulgent. Whatever your personality type, you’ll savor these quirky takes on traditional afternoon tea.