Did you know that Bridgerton is wrong about afternoon tea?!
Bridgerton is the hottest thing to come out of lockdown, Vogue tells us that vintage tea sets are gaining huge popularity, Daily Mail tells us that fans are desperate for Regency style fine dining. Grazia is reporting a trend spike in period fashion and period hobbies, and new tea companies are starting to blend their own Bridgerton inspired tea blends.
It seems that we are all going a little tea-potty over Bridgerton, but there’s one thing that Bridgerton got wrong about afternoon tea. Afternoon tea hadn’t actually been invented until after the Regency era had ended. After my realisation, I had a few tea time questions I wanted to answer:
So what would tea have really been like during the Regency era?
When did tea first come to England?
When was afternoon tea invented?
Was Jane Austen the same time period as Bridgerton?
And regardless of inaccuracies, I have some ideas on how to throw a fab Bridgerton themed afternoon tea party!
If you haven’t seen Bridgerton, I suggest you pop the kettle on and get comfy for some serious Netflix binge-watching! I loved this series despite of it’s historical inaccuracies. I loved the fantasy of the show being based very loosely of Georgian England with lots of modern day twists.
What is Bridgerton Like?
Bridgerton was set in the Regency era, from 1811 to 1820, towards the end of the Georgian era. Bridgerton is a far more exaggerated interpretation of London’s Regency era. With lots of hot love scenes, beautiful bright colourful dresses and instrumental modern day music, Bridgerton is a great way to escape into a fantasy world! If it’s accurate historical facts you are after then Bridgerton is not for you, if it’s scandal, betrayal, steamy scenes and passion you are after then it’s time to pop the kettle on, get some tasty snacks lined up and get ready for hours of fun.
When was Afternoon Tea Invented?
But like I said, Bridgerton isn’t exactly historically accurate because Bridgerton is wrong about afternoon tea! Whilst the show presents us with posh tea and extravagant cakes served on beautiful platters and elegant cake stands with pretty tea cups and saucers, afternoon tea wasn’t invented until the 1840s, that’s 20 years after the end of the Regency era.
It all started with one idea from Anna Maria Russell, the Duchess of Bedford who wanted to bridge the gap between lunch and dinner time. The Duchess of Bedford had the idea to enjoy sandwiches, cakes, pastries and hot cups of tea with her friends. It was a time to relax in a comfy setting and exchange hot gossip with her friends. By the 1880s, afternoon tea became the fashionable past time to participate in. Just like the theme of Bridgerton with the illusive mischief maker Lady Whistledown, women loved to exchange gossip and news.
If you love reading about afternoon tea, you may also love this blog article; Is Afternoon Tea the Same as High Tea?
When did Tea First Come to England?
Tea was first brought to England in the 17th century by the East India Company. During the 1650’s, Dutch traders brought tea to England where it was first served as a novelty in London’s coffee houses.
It was Catherine of Braganza, who was the wife of Charles II who introduced the elegance of tea to the English Royal Court around 1662. Catherine of Braganza had grown up drinking tea in Portugal. Tea had been imported into Portugal since 1610 but wasn’t imported to England until around 1650.
Tea slowly became more and more popular over time and the very first tea shop opened in 1706 by Thomas Twining in London’s Strand. The same Twinings tea company that we know and love today in England.
Tea During Regency England
What Would Have Tea Been Really Like During Regency Era England?
Whilst tea drinking was extremely popular amongst the high societies and wealthy population of England, it was some time before the tradition of afternoon tea had started. During regency England, tea drinking would have been very popular but no more popular than coffee or alcoholic drinks at that time. Tea would have been enjoyed but not in a ritual. The rituals and traditions of tea started much later on. We now enjoy tea as part of our daily routine, we enjoy breakfast tea, afternoon tea and even mugs of tea with supper, known as ‘high tea’.
What Time Period is Jane Austen?
Jane Austen was a writer also during the Regency era. Jane Austen was famous for her love of tea, especially her love of Chinese black tea and her apparent love of dandelion tea too. Jane Austen was best known for writing love stories such as Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Emma. Jane Austen’s work, even though 200 years old is still hugely popular and relatable these days.
Just like Bridgerton, many tea parties are themed on Jane Austen and Regency tea time. However, afternoon tea wasn’t invented until later on. Of course, this doesn’t mean that a Regency era afternoon tea is a bad idea, enjoying a luxurious Georgian afternoon is a wonderful idea! Read on for some planning tips on how to throw a regency tea party.
Read More of my Blog Articles About Tea
How to Throw a Bridgerton Themed Tea Party
Even though Bridgerton is wrong about afternoon tea, doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a regal regency era tea party!
Thanks to Bridgerton, throwing a regal tea party is right on trend. Whether it is historically accurate or not, I think it’s a fabulous idea to get dressed up and enjoy an afternoon to remember. Here’s quick guide on how to throw the best Bridgerton themed tea party that will be the talk of the town, or perhaps the talk of Lady Whistledown;
Choose an elegant location. Depending on your budget, you may be able to rent a room at a Georgian inspired hotel or venue. Alternatively, a English country garden setting at home would be stunning. You can turn any room into a dream venue with some well thought out décor. When I think of Bridgerton, I think of beautiful flowing flowers and champagne towers. Bridgerton screams over the top luxury and exquisiteness.
Choose a colour scheme. Bridgerton use both wonderful vibrant and pastel colours for each character. I especially love vintage pink and yellow as a colour scheme for an afternoon tea party. If you have a favouite Bridgerton character, go ahead and use their colour palette as your chosen colour scheme. Depending on how many people you have attending, you can also theme each table to a selection of characters from the show..
Send elegant and regal invitations that include your chosen colour scheme. You can do this online, by making your own invitations, or if your budget allows have custom invitations made.
When choosing tableware, chose vintage teapots and cups with saucers. Use candles with gold candlesticks, luxurious table cloths and vintage style champagne flutes. The high society of the Regency era would have used only the most fancy of table ware and accessories. Think lots of florals, lots of gold and lots of luxury.
Lastly, and most importantly plan the menu. No English afternoon tea is complete without dainty sandwiches, pastries, sweet treats, petit fours and scones with clotted cream and a selection of jams. Champagne or prosecco is a lovely lavish touch to a regal themed afternoon tea party, oh and pots upon pots of freshly made tea!
Here are some recipe ideas that can be incorporated into your afternoon tea:
Skinny fat rascals are a cross between a rock cake and a scone and have been adapted from traditional Betty’s fat rascals. These delicious tea room buns can be served just like a scone with cream and jam or eaten on their own. These skinny fat rascals are vegan friendly. If you are dairy free or vegan, here’s a marvellous dairy free ‘clotted’ cream recipe that can be used with these fat rascals or any scone recipe that takes your fancy.
A fancy afternoon tea wouldn’t be the same without cute sugar cubes. I have a step by step guide on how to make your own sugar cubes including how to add flavour, add dried flowers and how to make novelty shapes too. I love making mermaid sugar cubes!
Nothing pairs better than tea and cake does! And Infusing tea into cake is a wonderful combination. I especially love making this lady grey and meyer lemon drizzle cake. I also love using black English breakfast tea to infuse into a traditional manor house cake in this tea cake with pecans and ultanas.
No afternoon tea would be complete without lots of lots of tea. Serving a selection of black teas to pair with sweet treats is definitely the way to go. For more indulgence, I love these chai lattes served with fresh homemade cake. You don’t have to just serve hot tea at a tea party, you can also serve wine, bubbly, or tea inspired cocktails and hot tea toddies. These matcha tequila sunrise cocktails are super easy to whip up and look so impressive. For a summer time tea party, try these Moroccan mint tea agua frescas with watermelon and white rum. Alternatively, for cooler autumn and winter months try this Mexican hot chocolate with tequila recipe to warm the heart and soul.
Will There be a Bridgerton Season 2?
Yes! It has been confirmed that Bridgerton will be back for another season, hooray!
If you loved this scandalously steamy first series, here are some great shows that you may also like while you wait for the next instalment of Bridgerton:
Pride and Prejudice
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries
The Spanish Princess
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