The ritual of afternoon tea has been part of traditional English culture since 1840. Anna, Duchess of Bedford and lifelong friend of Queen Victoria, suffered from ‘hunger spells’ between luncheon and dinner and decided to take some tea, usually Darjeeling, with cake and sandwiches. At the time it was usual for people to take only two main meals a day, breakfast, and dinner at around 8 o'clock in the evening. Therefore, this was the perfect solution to fulfilling the Duchess' hunger.
She soon began inviting friends to join her and before long it became a full-blown social event among the English aristocracy. When the Duchess often returned to London, she would send cards to her friends asking them to join her for "tea and a walk through the fields." Other social hostesses soon picked up on this trend and began to move the newly formed tradition into the drawing room for a more respectable afternoon of tea, cakes and sandwiches.
Even today, people from overseas still portray the British to be a culture whereby "at half past three, everything stops for tea". However, this has sadly become an occasional luxury; often used to mark a celebration, or in a hotel after a short weekend away.