“It’s always tea time.” – Unknown
Hello from London 🖐. I know a lot of people who drink coffee and I know a lot of people who drink tea and I like drinking both but, if I’m being completely honest, I’d rather drink tea. There are several different types of tea in the world but my favorite tea, which also happens to be America’s favorite 100% natural tea, is Lipton (served hot with a hint of lemon). Unfortunately, I haven’t had Lipton tea since I’ve been to London (tragic) instead I’ve been having British Breakfast Tea. This week my Food, Society and Culture class participated in the British tradition of afternoon tea at the Royal Garden Hotel, where I had British Breakfast tea. As for my History of Design class, though we didn’t have afternoon tea, we did do something equally as fun…we went on a field trip to the Leighton House museum. Tea and museums, two of my favorite things…it’s starting out to be a pretty good week.
According to the internet, the custom of drinking tea dates back to the third millennium BC in China but it was not until the mid-19th century that the ‘afternoon tea’ first developed. Afternoon tea was introduced in England by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, in the year 1840. Dinner in her household was served late around eight o’clock, which was a considerably long time from lunch time which was served around noon. Because of the wide time gap, the Duchess would get hungry in the late afternoon and would ask that tea, bread, butter, and cake be brought to her room. This started becoming a habit and she began inviting friends to join her. As time went on, having tea in the late afternoon became a fashionable social event. Earlier this week, at the Royal Garden Hotel, my class had an award-winning Kensington tea that included: elegant sandwiches, scones served with clotted cream and preserves, cakes and pastries and of course tea. It was very fancy and very good, though in a regular household it would probably include biscuits or small cakes and a cup of tea. It was an experience and I liked it because it was an interactive way to engage in British culture.
Onto my other favorite activity, walking through museums (I love museums). Today, it was the Leighton House Museum to learn more about the Aesthetic movement. Leighton House Museum is the former home of the Victorian artist Frederic, Lord Leighton and it contains a great collection of paintings and sculptures by Leighton and his colleagues. The house contained an Arab Hall with a golden dome, intricate mosaics, and walls lined with beautiful Islamic tiles…very aesthetic. There was also a Silk Room that was Leighton’s photo gallery room and I liked it because there was art hanging all around the room and because it had these two really cool ceiling windows. During our visit to the house, there was an exhibition taking place, Alma-Tadema: At Home in Antiquity. The exhibition was a walkthrough of the artist’s, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, career and also features work from his wife and daughter. Alma-Tadema’s work featured dreamy figures set against decadent backgrounds associated with the Roman Empire. It is said that he became wanted to capture people’s imagination and his vision of what life was like in the ancient times. My instructor was unaware that the exhibition was taking place but nonetheless it was nice to have been able to see the works and to see the aesthetic of the house because it was pleasing to the eye.
It’s still early in the week and there still much to do. xoxo, Joella.