Victorian England bought us many things, some good and some not so. As I like to keep things light around here, we will stick with the good. New trends and inventions of the era on the good list included bikes, telephones, Christmas Trees (thanks Prince Albert!), radios, cameras, the beginning of education for all, and Afternoon Tea! Afternoon Tea is probably at the top of that list for me (although I couldn't live without my camera) and I am a sucker for a real Christmas tree (just not all year round).
Afternoon Tea was invented in 1840 by The Seventh Duchess of Bedford at a time when it was usual to have just two meals a day (breakfast and dinner). At around 3 or 4pm and with a long wait for dinner, the Duchess would become decidedly hungry, and (thankfully for us) decided to put together a small meal of tea and sandwiches and invited friends to join her. This all became incredibly fashionable and thus began one of our best traditions still enjoyed today and emulated across the world (I used to love going to a certain "English Tea House" in Munich and watch as some of Munich's finest Frauen would enjoy a version of Afternoon Tea whilst drinking tea with milk (not very common in DE) from bone china cups with little fingers firmly stuck out (imagined to be, but not very common in the UK)... Along with imagining we Brits eat roast beef and Yorkshire pudding every single Sunday, I think some countries believe that we have Afternoon Tea every single day too, which actually I think we probably should!
There's no denying there's something special about the ritual of the whole experience. From the warming of the teapot to the pouring of that first cup, the traditional cakes and sandwich fillings, and most of all taking time out of our (usually) busy lives to savour such a treat. Of course, recently we haven't been able to go out to enjoy Afternoon Tea, which is why you definitely need to add Winchester business, The Cup and Saucer to your contacts. They deliver the entire thing to your doorstep, from the gorgeous afternoon tea itself to the teapot, cake stand and vintage crockery. Owner Victoria's parting words to me as she left me with three boxes containing lovely things were "you don't even have to do the washing up" - my kind of heaven after 16 weeks of not escaping it (I absolutely did it though, I couldn't imagine not doing so!)...
We were gifted a Classic Afternoon Tea for two with all the favourites - scones, clotted cream and jam, sandwiches (obviously cucumber sandwiches and smoked salmon feature in this selection), an array of delicate cakes (from Lemon drizzle to chocolate, to Victoria sponge and the cutest tiny carrot cake that was snaffled by the smallest member of our family just after I took the photographs). Victoria also included strawberries and cream available to order on the extras list.
We were also gifted a Gentleman Jack Afternoon Tea for two, more of a savoury affair with cheese scones, sausage rolls, a scotch egg, and pork pie along with sandwiches of the beef and horseradish, ham and mustard, and cheese and pickle variety. This tea also comes with a big chunk of fruit cake and a slab of cheese with all-important chutney!
The Cup and Saucer also specialise in Afternoon Tea picnics, children's Afternoon Teas (which I might order for myself when my post lockdown diet eventually starts!) a Tennis Tea, and if you can't decide on any of the above you can always mix and match. There are vegetarian and vegan alternatives available to everything and any and all food intolerances are taken care of so you don't have to worry about anything.
I love the fact that every little detail has been thought of for you, it really is a case of unpacking the boxes and putting the kettle on. Victoria wants everything to be a memorable experience and it really is.
An Afternoon Tea from The Cup and Saucer makes a really special event out of all the missed celebrations and first reunions that we can finally begin to enjoy. You just choose your tea, book a delivery date, and wait patiently for it all to arrive. It would also be a really lovely treat to send to someone who hasn't been able to leave the house during this time, and for those that don't yet feel comfortable in eating out as the restaurants and cafes start to reopen.
We really enjoyed both varieties of Afternoon Tea sent to us by The Cup and Saucer, it was lovely to sit in the garden on a Friday afternoon and enjoy that time together when we would otherwise be rushing around. Plus the fact that someone else had lovingly and expertly made everything for you so you didn't really have to lift a finger was a definite bonus. All components and ingredients were of extremely high quality, and it was as good (indeed better in some case) as any as I have enjoyed in any high-end hotel or restaurant.
The Cup and Saucer are now firmly on my Afternoon Tea list, and I would definitely order one again as a special treat (and whilst the children are otherwise occupied so we don't have to share it with them!).... Highly recommended.
Disclaimer - we were gifted a Classic Afternoon Tea and Gentleman Jack Afternoon Tea by The Cup and Saucer. All words and opinions are very much our own!