This ancient custom originated in the 1800s when there were only 2 meals in the day: breakfast and dinner.
Anna Maria Stanhope Russel, seventh duchess of Bedford and close friend of the then Queen Victoria, tired of arriving at dinner with a “hole in her stomach”, decided to add to her diet a cup of tea accompanied by some sweets or savory sandwiches.
And he did just that around 5 p.m., a time when he usually felt the hungriest.
Soon, the Duchess began to invite family, friends and acquaintances, until this “extravagance” of hers became a real tradition among all the nobles at court.
Today in London you can find many Tea Rooms, bars where they serve tea with savory or sweet snacks.
These are mostly touristy places, as the British reserve this tradition for special moments or holidays.
It is rumored, however, that unlike her compatriots, Queen Elizabeth II does not skip even an “afternoon tea” … always putting a drop of milk in her tea, as the English tradition commands.