It’s the quintessentially British pastime that we all know and love, the ever so lovely, the ever so indulgent afternoon tea, introduced by the Duchess of Bedford in the early 1800s. It came at a time when there were only two meals in the day; one in the morning and one in the evening. This of course left a rather long period of time in between, so the afternoon cup of tea served to the upper classes gradually became a small afternoon meal.
Afternoon teas are a delicious treat to share with family and friends, to celebrate a birthday, baby or other special occasions.
As afternoon tea aficionados, we’d like to share the secret of what makes the perfect afternoon tea.
First, the components that make up this special little meal are key. You’ll need:
Sandwiches – without crusts, cut into triangles and containing fillings such as cucumber, egg and cress, smoked salmon, etc. Offering a selection of white bread and brown bread is the best idea.
Scones – delicious crumbly, cakey bread served with clotted cream and strawberry jam are a delicious addition to the afternoon tea, though technically a traditional ingredient of the ‘Devon cream tea’.
Tea – a good quality tea served in a teapot is the ultimate ingredient of course. Many places will offer a glass of champagne instead of tea, as well as a variety of speciality coffee and hot chocolates, all very tempting and delicious.
Light homemade cakes – small slices of light cake or tarts are a perfect choice for your afternoon tea. Try Victoria sponge, bite-size eclairs or strawberry tarts.
If you aren’t keen on scones, then these delicious alternatives will do the trick: crumpets, teacakes, bread and butter, buttered hot cross buns or muffins.
You can also add extras such as macaroons, fresh strawberries, grapes, individual servings of chocolate mousse or cheesecake. The staples are listed above, but you can be creative and mix up what you serve.
To really create the perfect afternoon tea, ensure that you have the ideal balance of savoury and sweet finger foods, all of which should be light and well-presented.
The jams, cream and butter should be served in small dishes so that guests can help themselves.
Afternoon tea is usually served on a tiered cake stand with cakes, sandwiches, and scones on different tiers.
This makes for a pretty and elegant presentation and sets the tone for your afternoon tea. You can decorate your tiered stand with colourful flowers and slices of fresh fruit to impress your guests.
The tea should be brewed in a teapot and of course served in tea cups and saucers, the more traditional and ornate the better. Serve your cakes and sandwiches on small china plates.
To round it off, dress the table with a linen tablecloth and adorn the table with more bright flowers for that perfect Instagram picture.
If you want to avoid the washing and clearing up that comes with hosting the perfect afternoon tea, book yourself and your guests in for an afternoon of sumptuous dining at one of our Hallmark Hotels where we take pride in serving the very best afternoon tea, complemented with lovingly made sweet treats.
Find out about Hallmark afternoon teas here and be sure to book your place.