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The anti-brunch: afternoon tea

Mother’s day and a royal wedding provide two good reasons to bring out the tea set

Tea service at the Fairmont Royal York

Photos Supplied by Tourism Canada


In stark contrast to the vodka-and-champagne-fueled revelry of the weekend brunch, consider afternoon tea. This practice began in 1840s-era Britain as a light repast served in the late afternoon, meant to keep hunger at bay until dinner.  It evolved into a complex ritual, complete with ornate cake stands, silver tea services, and translucent porcelain cups and saucers. Over the decades, the practice spread through every tier of society; Britishers who couldn’t take long lunches often made late afternoon tea their main meal, coming, as it did, after a full workday. Traditional afternoon tea fare is carb-heavy, featuring finger sandwiches, pastries, and cakes, for the most part. Tea itself is known as the liquid fuel that built the British empire, got it through WWII, and made it possible for them to bear all that rain.



There are several great afternoon tea spots in Western New York. Keep calm and carry on at:


Angelica Tea Room


Asa Ransom House


Lana’s The Little House


Murphy Orchards


White Linen Tea House         


It’s possible to get a bit closer to the afternoon tea mothership by traveling an hour north to Toronto, where some institutions have been serving formal teas for more than 100 years. This month, there is extra excitement over all things British, thanks to the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, which takes place May 19, 7 a.m. our time (noon in London). The Fairmont Royal York (fairmont.com), which has been serving afternoon tea since 1929, will also provide an English breakfast and live broadcast on the morning of the wedding, as well as teas throughout the weekend, accompanied by screenings of other famous royal weddings. There is a Royal Romance weekend package available.


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