The ritual of the afternoon tea has its origins in Britain in the 1840s. It was at this time that Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford became frustrated at the wait for dinner which was served at the fashionably late hour of 8 pm. The gap between lunch and the evening meal was unacceptable – so she asked the servants to provide her with bread, butter and tea at 4 pm in the afternoon to tide her over until a more substantial meal was served. She so enjoyed the idea that she began to invite her friends over to partake in what was to become the institution of Afternoon Tea. Interestingly enough the popularity of the Tea grew in leaps and bounds when the Earl of Sandwich’s innovation of placing a filling between two slices of bread gained a loyal following. Soon the Afternoon or ‘High’ Tea became a fashionable event which soon saw society women dressing for each day’s event.

The tradition of Afternoon Tea today is still appreciated by Boston people. They gather to enjoy pastries, traditional sandwich’s, sometimes champagne or cocktails and simply enjoy the company of others during this most civilized of light dining rituals.

So if you are in Boston what are the best places to enjoy Afternoon Tea? Here are some great choices.

1. The Langham

Enjoy the mellow sounds of the jazz piano in Art Deco inspired surroundings while tucking into the traditional cucumber sandwiches (albeit with a modern twist in the form of with chive infused Gournay cheese), the modern theme is also carried through with the addition of the popular ‘sirloin and mushroom sandwich’.Of course, there are the tarts and profiteroles to be enjoyed, as well as chocolate covered strawberries. Scones and clotted cream with the essential strawberry jam are of course available. Enjoy a glass of champagne to round off the experience.

2. The Taj Boston

Although the name may be misleading this is a venue devoted to the art of the Afternoon Tea. The cucumber sandwiches are thinly sliced (as they should be), the traditional egg sandwiches are glorious in their simplicity and the miniature scones with clotted cream and lemon curd are delightful. 29 Different teas are available – along with some interesting tea-based cocktails.

3. L’Espalier

Fine dining and Afternoon Tea collide at this incredible venue. Worth visiting if only for the sandwiches. Examples include the ‘herb cream cheese with cucumber placed on citrus brioche’. However, there are other treats such as the deviled eggs which are garnished with caviar and the game bird terrine which elevate the entire experience. A huge range of teas is of course available.

Take a little time off and be transported back to 19th century to enjoy one of the more genteel dining experiences that is available in Boston. It’s the ideal antidote to the stress of modern living.