“Taking Tea” in Jane Austen’s Era

Today, Linda Pedro discusses the Regency practice of taking tea in Jane Austen’s era.

Post written by Linda Pedro, contributing author,What Jane Austen Didn’t Tell Us!

It is common for characters in Jane Austen’s novels to “take tea.” But the Regency practice was a far cry from today’s elaborate afternoon ritual featuring 3-tiered stands filled with finger sandwiches, scones and sweets. Taking tea often meant nothing more than drinking the beverage, by itself, some hours after the evening meal or with visitors in the afternoon. Buttered bread might be served, or a piece of cake.tea

The exotic drink from China was a costly indulgence of the ultra wealthy when it first arrived in England around 1657. Widely available by the early 1700s, its popularity exploded among all classes, fueled by its fashionable cachet and occasional affordability. But during Austen’s lifetime it was a luxury item, carefully rationed, even by those who could afford it. The duty and excise tax on tea was as…

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