Stopping for a spot of afternoon tea has been a pastime long associated with the upper-classes but itís now becoming an ever popular activity for all. Itís still seen as a luxury and a treat, but everyone can and must try this pleasurable tradition.
Anna the 7th Duchess of Bedfordshire in England is often credited with the invention of afternoon tea in the 1840s. The story goes that the Duchess often became hungry around 4pm (dinner wasn't usually served before 8pm), so she secretly requested a small selection of bread and butter, small tarts, cakes, biscuits and of course tea to be brought to her room. She enjoyed this afternoon treat so much that she invited friends round to her join her, and so afternoon tea was born.
Today afternoon tea is en vogue and there are a couple of places in Melbourne that particularly stand out: The Langham, and The Windsor.
Both are pricey (ranging from $29-$65 per person) but then this is not an everyday treat, plus although itís supposed to be a light, indulgent snack, youíll always be satisfactorily stuffed when youíve finished Ė those small morsels are surprisingly filling.
Both are very traditional in style; your choice of teas served with a three tier silver stand bursting with tiny goodies. You should always expect finger sandwiches, cakes, tarts and scones. At The Langham they even have a Chocolate Indulgence menu for those chocoholics, and at The Hotel Windsor they offer a chocolate and ice cream indulgence at the weekend, dependent on the season.
But as I'm a food traditionalist I'd be more than happy with a few cucumber sandwiches, a Bakewell tart, fruit scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, and all washed down with a cup of Earl Grey. Heavenly!