Afternoon tea was introduced in Britain by the seventh Duchess of Bedford in 1840. She decided there was a need for refreshments during the long gap between lunch and dinner, so afternoon tea at 4 p.m. was established. Diners would need a hearty appetite to consume a full English afternoon tea followed by a substantial dinner, perhaps the ladies of 1840 only ate tiny portions of each delicacy. Today the traditional three-tiered stands of: crustless finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones with hand-made jam and clotted cream plus a layer of delicious cakes can be found in tea rooms and hotels across the country. The renowned Afternoon tea at The Ritz London now offers a choice of four sittings to meet increased demand from guests. Thursday Cottage’s Cherry with Cherry Brandy Jam is an interesting alternative to the traditional Strawberry Jam which is placed on fresh scones then topped with Cornish clotted cream. Many of the cakes that are served at an afternoon tea may use one of TC’s curds or jams in the tiny tarts, classic Victoria Sandwich slices or the more exotic patisserie offerings.Picnic – you can adapt an afternoon tea to suit all occasions with friends and families or children. In summer it is easy to take the main ingredients in a box and have a picnic in a garden, by the water or in the country but do take a bottle of “fizz” with you to add a little sparkle.