Home Culture How did five o’clock tea come about in England?

How did five o’clock tea come about in England?

by Dianna Leon

You’ve probably heard about five o’clock tea, haven’t you? The habit, very common in England, ended up becoming famous all over the world. When the clock strikes 17:00, for the English, it’s time to stop whatever you’re doing and enjoy a cup of tea.

How did the tradition come about?

Drinking tea at 5 pm has been a tradition since 1662 in England, but it only became really popular after the 19th century and, according to history, thanks to a very hungry duchess. The habit, once associated only with the bourgeois, has become very popular over time.

This tradition had existed for some time in Portugal and Catarina de Bragança, daughter of D. João IV ended up taking the habit with her to England when she married King Charles II of England.


The practice, however, only became famous and notorious when Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Belfort who always felt very hungry in the space between lunch and dinner, started to make a small snack: a cup of tea with milk and sugar plus a salt.

The habit began to be imitated by some aristocrats and bourgeois who, in addition to consuming the same snack, took the opportunity to invite personalities and show off the expensive pieces of porcelain and silver.

After that, tearooms were created and the tradition became quite popular and conquered all of Europe.

Five o’clock tea these days

Today the five o’clock tea is still a tradition, however there is no longer a fixed time like in the past. In addition, it is no longer just a snack and tea, but a lot of food and drinks that became a celebration among friends, as well as a mandatory program for those who pass through the country.

How is English tea?

Tea in England is perfect for brewing, although not everywhere in the country. It is suggested to use a teaspoon of leaves to a cup of water, and the water should never reach boiling point. The milk should be added fresh to the tea, as if it is too hot it can unravel the proteins and alter the taste. The milk will cool the tea, bringing the perfect balance for consumption. You can add sugar if you like, but it has to be white.

You may also like

Leave a Comment