Serving an Elegant Afternoon Tea
Our Story Begins… with Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, in the early 1800’s. It is rumoured that she started taking tea and a light afternoon snack privately in her boudoir to hold her over between breakfast and dinner (which was served around 8:00 p.m.). Eventually, she started inviting a few friends to join her for a cuppa, a light bite, and an afternoon walk. It became a popular ritual among her circle and eventually was picked up by other fashionable hostesses. This dainty meal evolved, and serving an elaborate afternoon tea became to be not only a respectable entertainment, but also a fashionable custom in the parlours of London's aristocratic society.
And Today… An afternoon tea remains a fashionable and beloved aspect of British culture. Tourists would be remiss not to indulge in afternoon tea at any number of our great hotels, restaurants, or cafes. And it has become the perfect menu to serve guests at a bridal shower, wedding reception, street party, graduation party or afternoon garden party.
However, indulging in going out for afternoon regularly can soon become a costly experience. Here at Britain Loves Baking we want to encourage you to bring the hospitality home, and give an afternoon tea your own special spin.
Gather The Essentials… To give your afternoon tea a classic feel you’re going to have to invest in a few items, such as: a three-tier tea stand, tea cups, tea pots, a cake slicer, and decorations. If you already own a silverware tea service you’re set, if not then alternatively use your best chinaware or table ware. If you don’t have a tea service, charity shops are a great place to hunt for bargains as many sell old tea sets. Don’t worry if you can’t find a complete set, mismatched tea sets add an element of homely charm and whimsy.
For decorations go bold. Add delicate floral prints, cushions, flowers, bunting. Think elegance with a hint of excess. For inspiration we’d recommend browsing the "Tablescapes" section of TeaTime magazine. Choose centrepieces that accentuate your colours, theme, and room. Seasonal flowers are traditional and timeless although, be creative, if you’re hosting your afternoon tea party during a seasonal holiday think about ways to incorporate elements that reflect that celebration. Small table decorations are another way to add seasonal flare to your décor.
The Menu… will need to include both sweet and savoury items to appeal to most people’s preferences. For your choice of tea select favourites such as Earl Grey or Assam or as herbal teas like chamomile and mint. If you need inspiration, our new Summer Afternoon Tea Box comes with recipes and ingredients to host an entire afternoon tea party. To be safe, it’s usually expected to have a few savoury finger sandwiches, scones served with jam and clotted cream, and sweet cakes for dessert.
To Prepare… Send invitations to your event that reflect the theme and decorations you intend to use. To make your tea party appeal to your guests include a sample of the menu so that they know what to expect, or can warn you about any food allergies they may have.
On the day of your afternoon tea party, decorate and assemble the table with your centrepiece and any other table decorations. Assemble your finger sandwiches, bake the scones, and place the cakes. Assemble your tea tower, brew a classic pot of tea and wait for guests to arrive. Enjoy your guest’s company and give yourself a nice pat on the back.
You can order our new ‘Britain Loves Baking Afternoon Tea Box’ at: https://britainlovesbaking.com/collections/baking-kit-boxes/products/afternoon-tea