Food & Drink

Summer approaches – and so does the return of the afternoon tea!

Written by Jane Granville

One of my favourite things as summer approaches, is looking forward to meeting my friends for a simple but delicious afternoon tea – and a new eatery in Bridgend is doing it brilliantly!

Based opposite the office I work in, is  Izzy Mai’s tearoom a lovely little shop situated in Nolten street Bridgend. The do the most delicious, cakes sandwiches and afternoon tea’s, you can either eat in or take away. What I like the most about this little shop is the warm welcome I always get, when I pop over for a sly piece of cake . Run by daughter and mother, its like taking a step back in history to the quaint little décor of the shop.

The history of taking Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea, that most quintessential of English customs is, perhaps surprisingly, a relatively new tradition. Whilst the custom of drinking tea dates back to the third millennium BC in China and was popularised in England during the 1660s by King Charles II and his wife the Portuguese Infanta Catherine de Braganza, it was not until the mid 19th century that the concept of ‘afternoon tea’ first appeared, have been introduced in England by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, in the year 1840.

Apparently. the Duchess would become hungry around four o’clock in the afternoon, while the evening meal in her household was served fashionably late at eight o’clock, thus leaving a long period of time between lunch and dinner. The Duchess would ask for a tray of tea, bread and butter (some time earlier, the Earl of Sandwich had had the idea of putting a filling between two slices of bread) and cake be brought to her room during the late afternoon. This became a habit and the Duchess began inviting friends to join her.

This pause for tea became a fashionable social event. During the 1880’s upper-class and society women would change into long gowns, gloves and hats for their afternoon tea which was usually served in the drawing room between four and five o’clock.

These days it is more of a mid-afternoon treat and definitely used as a way of socialising, I think it’s fair to say, enjoyed more by women than men. Nowadays, it’s also used for celebrations, like Birthday Parties, Baby showers and girly get togethers.

As the ‘baby shower’ is slowly becoming a big part of the ‘baby experience’ in the UK, increasingly mums-to-be are being spoiled with afternoon tea as as a way of getting together to celebrate the imminent birth of a child.  It’s perfect – no alcohol, inclusive to everyone and let’s be honest – who doesn’t adore cake?

Another popular celebration is the 13th birthday party, when a child takes its first steps into their teenage years, again mostly based at the doorstep of us women, but that doesn’t rule out men who are also partial to a nice, sweet cake – we haven’t heard of stag dos enjoying afternoon tea – but it’s certainly an option!

What I like about Izzy Mai

Set in Nolton Street in Bridgend, Izzy Mai is a treat and feels like one.  I love this place, the decor reminds me of a quaint English style garden – but it’s also the totally relaxed environment, and the pure delight at the smell of all those wonderful cakes, while walking through the door.

Even though Izzy Mai’s have their set opening times, they will open for special occasions outside of working hours – however, you would need to contact them and book ahead to avoid disappointment.

I can’t recommend them enough, if you are looking for that somewhere special to take your mum, or your daughters, or just your friends, you can’t beat Izzy Mai’s for that  special afternoon tea (and I hope they’ll never get too busy to keep serving me my secret slice at lunchtime!)


About the author

Jane Granville is a popular blogger writing for and is also a community councillor for Cornelly.  Jane writes reviews about local services and food establishments, and community issues.

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