Why You Should Take a Nice Afternoon Tea on Lake Windermere
Standing alone, as from a rampart’s edge,
I overlooked the bed of Windermere,
Like a vast river, stretching in the sun.
With exultation, at my feet I saw
Lake, islands, promontories, gleaming bays,
A universe of Nature’s fairest forms
Proudly revealed with instantaneous burst,
Magnificent, and beautiful, and gay.
Afternoon tea is awesome, but an even more fantastic experience would be tea by the lake, Windermere Lake to be specific.
The history of the lake district, the tradition of taking afternoon tea, and the origin of tea itself, are fascinating subjects. If you are truly brave, you can delve into what type of pot the tea should be in, milk in the mug first? Or tea first? Even a debate as to how the water is heated, along with the best way to do even that small task.
Rather than get into all of that debate, we are going to concentrate on what is indisputable, the scenic beauty of Lake Windermere and the joy of an afternoon tea by the lake.
Windermere is the largest natural lake in England. It has been one of the country's most popular places for holidays and summer homes since the arrival of the Kendal and Windermere Railway's branch line in 1847.
Forming part of the border between Lancashire and Westmorland, it is now within the county of Cumbria and the Lake District National Park.
At 10.5 miles long, one mile wide and 220 feet deep, Lake Windermere is a ribbon lake formed in a glacial trough after the retreat of ice at the start of the current interglacial period.
The lake contains nineteen islands, the largest being the privately owned Belle Isle, which is about forty acres in size. The lake is also fed by numerous rivers.
The fort of Galava was built by the Romans at the lake’s northern end, and for more than a thousand years, the lake was an important waterway for moving heavy materials.
Fast forward to the end of the 18th century and the beauty of the lake area was attracting visitors. “Guide to the Lakes” published by Wordsworth in 1810 promoted the lake as a popular destination.
When the railway reached Windermere in 1847, it brought with it an influx of visitors. The village of Windermere grew up around the railway station, which was located about a mile and a half from the lake.
By the late 19th century, the area saw wealthy businessmen building mansions overlooking the splendor of the lake. Many of those former homes have since been turned into hotels, from which you can enjoy tea by the lake.
There are also passenger services that operate the entire length of the lake. Some of the boats operate just part of the route, or they offer an out and back service, while others will run the whole distance.
Windermere is an area where you could immerse yourself in the beauty and culture of England. Participating in afternoon tea by the lake would complete the experience.
The custom of drinking tea dates back to the third millennium BC in China. This was made popular in England in the 1660’s by King Charles ll, but it was not until the mid 19th century that the concept of “afternoon tea” was first conceived.
That being the case, the most quintessential of English customs, afternoon tea, is a relatively new tradition.
The custom was introduced to England by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford in 1840. It seems that the Duchess would be come hungry around four o’clock in the afternoon. With dinner not due to appear until eight or nine o’clock in the evening, this can be understood.
It became the habit of the Duchess to request a tray of tea, bread and butter, and cake to be brought to her each day about four o’clock. She then began inviting friends to join her.
It did not take long for this pause for tea in the afternoon to become a fashionable social event, with the society women changing into long gowns, gloves and hats for their afternoon tea, usually served in the drawing room between four and five o’clock in the afternoon.
A traditional afternoon tea would offer a selection of dainty sandwiches, scones served with clotted cream and preserves. Cakes and pastries are also served. The upper class would pour the tea from silver tea pots into delicate bone china cups.
Another fast forward in time finds that in the 21st century, afternoon tea at the Ritz is now one of the hardest-to-book dining experiences in London. And outside the famous Betty's Tea Rooms in Yorkshire, the lines circle the block.
There are currently almost 1,500 different teas in Britain. They all vary in style, taste, and color. Which makes you wonder, what ones of those 1,500 are the favorites for afternoon tea?
The first and foremost tea favored across the pond is black tea. Earl Grey is one of those teas. It is a robust tea infused with just a hint of bergamot oil. The oil comes from the bergamot orange, and so it adds just a suggestion of citrus.
History says that this tea could be named after Charles Grey, the British Prime Minister in the 1830’s. But Twinings Tea company says the tea was presented by a Chinese envoy to Lord Grey. The one thing that is known for sure...Captain Jean Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise drinks ONLY Earl Grey.
Next in popularity is Darjeeling, a tea light in color with a mild floral aroma. This particular tea originated in India and is available in black, green, white or oolong tea. It is distinct for being refreshing and thin-bodied.
The most common of all tea types in Britain is breakfast tea. And yes, you can have breakfast tea in the afternoon. This tea is a blend of black teas. It has a full-bodied, rich flavor with a strong aroma.
The drinking of this tea for breakfast can be traced back to colonial times.
The tea leaves for this type of tea are minimally processed. As the tea has gone through less oxidation, the tea is light green in color and has a mild, slightly “green” flavor.
Japanese green tea has been considered the gold standard for green tea. This tea is brighter green in color and can have a bitter aftertaste.
This tea is processed by letting the leaves wither under a strong sun, which triggers oxidation. After the leaves are dried, they are curled and steeped.
With careful preparation, the tea brings out its roasted aroma and a fresh fruity taste.
WHERE TO PARTAKE
It would be hard NOT to find a place to have an afternoon tea by the lake in Windermere. Here are just three of the many places that we found offering an afternoon tea.
Lakeside Hotel and Spa
Newby bridge, Cumbria
Relaxing afternoons by Lake Windermere – Catching up with friends – Celebrating.
Nothing works better than combining the panoramic views from Lakeside with a unique afternoon tea experience.
Our SWEET Afternoon Tea starts with pickled beetroot and goats cheese salad, continues with smoked salmon éclair, avocado en croute and a selection of finger sandwiches, before moving on to buttermilk and currant scones and a creative selection of sweet treats.
Our plant-based VEGAN options are equally appealing whether savoury with: parsnip croquettes, broccoli & avocado, onion Mexican bean burger…or sweet with: coconut & chocolate mousse, lemon drizzle cake, panna cotta passion fruit…
For the meat-eaters our SAVOURY Afternoon Tea includes a pickled beetroot and goats cheese salad and tasting of soup before moving on to the main event featuring lamb slider, honey glazed smoked sausage, scotch egg, crackling & sage dust…there will be scones and something sweet to finish.
Laura Ashley Hotel
The Belsfield, Windermere
Laura Ashley Hotel The Belsfield, Windermere, is in the heart of the Lake District National Park, an area of outstanding natural beauty that was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2017. Situated on the Eastern shore of Lake Windermere, directly overlooking the “Belle Isle”, The Belsfield is set in 6 acres of landscaped gardens. The hotel offers unparalleled views over the lake and beyond, to the farther shore where the often snow-capped Langdale Pikes and the Fairfield Horseshoe can be seen.
The house became a hotel in 1892 when Lieutenant A. D. Macleod became proprietor. His tenure was marked by his colleagues by the presentation of a rifle, now displayed in the corridor along with historic photographs and other information about The Belsfield’s history.
For a quintessentially English experience, The Belsfield offers delicious Afternoon Tea with beautiful views of Lake Windermere.
Our expert chefs have designed a sumptuous menu to cater for all tastes and dietary requirements, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Afternoon Tea, as well as Traditional Afternoon Tea. Each may be accompanied with a choice of loose leaf teas or, for the ultimate luxury experience, a glass of champagne.
Cumbria, LA23 3LG, UK
Storrs Hall Afternoon Tea is served daily between 12.30pm and 4.30pm. Celebrate a special occasion or catch up with family and friends, whilst you relax in one of our comfortable lounges or conservatory. Wherever you choose to sit you will be able to enjoy wonderful views over the grounds to Lake Windermere and the surrounding fells.
Our Afternoon Tea
Indulge in delicious homemade cakes, pastries and freshly baked scones served with Cornish clotted cream and preserve. All of which are served alongside a selection of finger sandwiches and a choice of tea blends and infusions.
A delicious gluten free option is also available.