On May 12, from 2-4 p.m., the Nevada Historical Society will honor our foremothers by hosting a tea at the Dyer-Dowell home, located at 922 Fifth St. You will be served an array of tea sandwiches, a scone and sweet breads, along with a dessert. Jamie Hughet will present her program, “History of Cookies,” while you sample cookies from different eras. Reservations are required. Cost is $15 per person. Hats and dressing up is encouraged, but casual wear is acceptable. Call Maxine at 382-6703 for reservations. Payment goes to NCHS, 624 J Ave., Nevada, IA 50201.
A short history lesson about serving tea
It was mid 1700s England in the home of Anne, the Duchess of Bedford, that is given credit for this tradition. There was a time when dinner was served at noon, but supper was not served until 8 or 9 p.m. Anne was tired of the “sinking feeling” she experienced every day toward late afternoon-early evening. She reasoned cups of tea and small sandwiches or sweets might help her. She enjoyed the time and knew her lady friends would make the time even more enjoyable. She invited some ladies over for a 2 p.m. serving of tea with dainty sandwiches and an array of cakes and sweet pastries, served from decorative stands and plates. They sat on sofas and chairs with low tables near to hold their cups. The room soon filled with gossip and the sharing of amusing household tales. A tradition had started.
As a few travelers returning from England to the colonies brought the concept across the ocean to America, it caught on quickly, but with the boycott of tea, the colonists served coffee or chocolate beverages with their sweets.
As with everything, change came and by the end of the 18th century, dinner hour moved to late afternoon with supper (called tea) even later, with fresh fruit, toast and cakes being served. The working class ate a large dinner at noon and supper (high tea) consisted of cold meats, cheese, fish, pie, pudding or cake.
The return of dressing up and using special serving pieces at a special ceremony was renewed in early 20th century.
Material taken from an article by Olwen Woodier in Americana, December 1998