Indulge in a Delightful Afternoon Tea Experience: A Guide to the Best Tea Rooms and Treats

Afternoon tea is a quintessentially British tradition that has been enjoyed for centuries. It originated in the early 1840s when Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, began to feel hungry in the afternoon and requested a tray of tea, bread, butter, and cake to be brought to her room. This simple act soon became a regular occurrence and she began inviting friends to join her. The tradition quickly spread throughout British society and became a popular social event.

Tea has always held a special place in British culture. It was introduced to Britain in the 17th century and quickly became a popular beverage. The British East India Company played a significant role in the tea trade, importing large quantities of tea from China and India. Tea became a symbol of wealth and status, and afternoon tea became a way for the upper classes to showcase their social standing.

Key Takeaways

  • Afternoon tea is a British tradition that involves drinking tea and eating sweet and savory treats.
  • The best tea rooms can be found in various locations and offer a perfect cuppa.
  • Classic tea treats include scones, clotted cream, and jam.
  • Savory delights include finger sandwiches and quiches.
  • Sweet treats include cakes, tarts, and macarons.

The Best Tea Rooms: Where to Find the Perfect Cuppa

When it comes to finding the perfect cup of tea, there are plenty of options in cities across Britain. London, in particular, is home to some of the best tea rooms in the country. The Ritz London is known for its elegant afternoon tea service, complete with finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries. Claridge’s is another iconic tea room in London, offering a luxurious setting and a wide selection of teas.

Outside of London, there are also many tea rooms that are worth a visit. Betty’s Tea Room in Harrogate is famous for its traditional afternoon tea experience, while The Pump Room in Bath offers a historic setting and stunning views of the Roman Baths. When selecting a good tea room, it is important to consider factors such as the quality of the tea, the variety of treats on offer, and the ambiance of the establishment.

Classic Tea Treats: Scones, Clotted Cream, and Jam

No afternoon tea would be complete without scones, clotted cream, and jam. Scones are a traditional British baked good that are typically served warm with clotted cream and jam. They have a rich, buttery flavor and a light, flaky texture. The origins of scones can be traced back to Scotland, where they were originally made with oats and cooked on a griddle.

To make the perfect scone, it is important to use high-quality ingredients and follow a tried-and-true recipe. The key to achieving a light and flaky texture is to handle the dough as little as possible. Overworking the dough can result in tough scones. Once the scones are baked, they should be served warm with clotted cream and jam. Clotted cream is a thick, creamy spread that is made by heating unpasteurized cow’s milk until a layer of cream forms on the surface. It has a rich, velvety texture and a slightly sweet flavor.

There are many variations of scones and toppings that can be enjoyed during afternoon tea. Some popular variations include fruit scones, which are made with dried fruit such as raisins or currants, and cheese scones, which are made with grated cheese. Toppings can also vary, with options such as lemon curd or honey being used in place of jam.

Savory Delights: Finger Sandwiches and Quiches

Product Price Calories Protein (g) Fat (g) Carbs (g)
Finger Sandwiches 3.99 per serving 250 10 12 25
Quiches 4.99 per serving 350 15 20 30

In addition to scones, afternoon tea often includes a selection of savory treats such as finger sandwiches and quiches. Finger sandwiches are small sandwiches that are typically made with thinly sliced bread and filled with a variety of ingredients. Some popular fillings include cucumber and cream cheese, smoked salmon and dill, and egg salad.

Quiches are another savory treat that can be enjoyed during afternoon tea. A quiche is a savory tart that is made with a pastry crust and a filling of eggs, cream, and various ingredients such as cheese, vegetables, or meat. Some popular types of quiches include quiche Lorraine, which is made with bacon and cheese, and spinach and feta quiche.

When pairing savory treats with tea, it is important to consider the flavors and textures of the food. Lighter teas such as green or white tea pair well with delicate sandwiches and quiches, while stronger teas such as black tea can stand up to bolder flavors.

Sweet Treats: Cakes, Tarts, and Macarons

Afternoon tea is also known for its selection of sweet treats, including cakes, tarts, and macarons. Traditional tea cakes such as Victoria sponge cake and Battenberg cake are often served during afternoon tea. Victoria sponge cake is a classic British cake that is made with layers of sponge cake filled with jam and cream. Battenberg cake is a colorful cake that is made by alternating squares of pink and yellow sponge cake and wrapping them in marzipan.

Tarts are another popular sweet treat that can be enjoyed during afternoon tea. A tart is a pastry crust filled with a sweet filling such as fruit or custard. Some popular types of tarts include lemon tart, apple tart, and chocolate tart.

Macarons are a delicate French treat that have become increasingly popular in recent years. They are made with almond flour, egg whites, and sugar, and are filled with a variety of flavored fillings such as ganache or buttercream. Macarons come in a wide range of flavors and colors, making them a visually appealing addition to any afternoon tea spread.

Tea Varieties: From Earl Grey to Darjeeling

Tea comes in many different varieties, each with its own unique characteristics. Some popular types of tea include black tea, green tea, oolong tea, and herbal tea. Black tea is the most common type of tea consumed in Britain and is known for its strong, robust flavor. Some popular black teas include Earl Grey, English Breakfast, and Assam.

Green tea is another popular type of tea that is known for its light, grassy flavor. It is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant and is rich in antioxidants. Oolong tea is a partially oxidized tea that falls somewhere between black tea and green tea in terms of flavor and color. It has a complex flavor profile that can range from floral and fruity to toasty and nutty.

Herbal teas are not technically teas as they are not made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Instead, they are made from a variety of herbs, flowers, fruits, and spices. Some popular herbal teas include chamomile, peppermint, and rooibos.

When brewing different types of tea, it is important to consider factors such as water temperature and steeping time. Black teas are typically brewed with boiling water and steeped for 3-5 minutes, while green teas are brewed with water that has cooled slightly from boiling and steeped for 2-3 minutes. Oolong teas require water that is slightly hotter than green tea and should be steeped for 3-5 minutes.

The Art of Tea Brewing: Tips and Techniques

Brewing the perfect cup of tea requires attention to detail and an understanding of the brewing process. One of the most important factors to consider when brewing tea is water temperature. Different types of tea require different water temperatures in order to bring out their best flavors. For example, black teas should be brewed with boiling water, while green teas should be brewed with water that has cooled slightly from boiling.

Another important factor to consider when brewing tea is steeping time. Steeping time refers to the amount of time that the tea leaves are left in contact with the water. Steeping time can vary depending on the type of tea and personal preference. Generally, black teas should be steeped for 3-5 minutes, while green teas should be steeped for 2-3 minutes.

In addition to water temperature and steeping time, the equipment used to brew tea can also have an impact on the final result. It is important to use a teapot or teacup that is made from a material that retains heat well, such as ceramic or glass. This will help to ensure that the tea stays hot for longer.

When tasting and evaluating tea, it is important to pay attention to factors such as aroma, flavor, and mouthfeel. Aroma refers to the smell of the tea, which can range from floral and fruity to earthy and smoky. Flavor refers to the taste of the tea, which can be influenced by factors such as the type of tea, the water used, and the brewing method. Mouthfeel refers to the texture of the tea in the mouth, which can range from light and refreshing to thick and creamy.

Etiquette: How to Behave in a Tea Room

When visiting a tea room, it is important to adhere to certain etiquette guidelines in order to ensure a pleasant experience for all. One of the most important aspects of tea room etiquette is dress code. Most tea rooms have a smart casual dress code, which means that guests should avoid wearing casual attire such as jeans and t-shirts. Instead, it is best to opt for more formal attire such as dresses or suits.

In addition to dress code, it is also important to behave appropriately in a tea room. This means being polite and respectful towards staff and other guests. It is also important to use proper etiquette when using tea utensils such as teacups, saucers, and teaspoons. For example, when stirring tea, it is best to use a gentle back-and-forth motion rather than a circular motion.

During afternoon tea, it is also important to engage in polite conversation with other guests. This can include topics such as the weather, current events, or hobbies and interests. It is best to avoid controversial topics such as politics or religion, as these can lead to heated debates and ruin the pleasant atmosphere of the tea room.

Afternoon Tea Around the World: Unique Twists on a Classic Tradition

While afternoon tea is most commonly associated with Britain, it has also been adopted and adapted in other countries around the world. In Japan, for example, there is a tradition known as “Japanese tea ceremony” or “sado.” This ceremony involves the preparation and presentation of matcha, a powdered green tea. The ceremony is highly ritualized and focuses on mindfulness and tranquility.

In India, afternoon tea is known as “chai” and is typically served with snacks such as samosas or pakoras. Chai is a spiced milk tea that is made by boiling tea leaves with milk, sugar, and spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger. It is a popular beverage in India and is often enjoyed throughout the day.

In France, afternoon tea is known as “le goûter” and typically consists of a hot drink such as tea or hot chocolate served with pastries or cakes. The French are known for their exquisite pastries and cakes, and these are often the highlight of le goûter.

When incorporating international flavors into your own tea party, it is important to consider the cultural significance of the dishes and beverages you are serving. It can be fun to experiment with different flavors and ingredients, but it is also important to respect the traditions and customs of the culture from which they originate.

Hosting Your Own Afternoon Tea Party: Ideas and Inspiration

Hosting your own afternoon tea party can be a fun and enjoyable way to spend time with friends and family. When planning and preparing for a tea party, it is important to consider factors such as the number of guests, the location, and the menu.

When it comes to decorations and table settings, it is best to keep things simple and elegant. A tablecloth in a neutral color such as white or cream can provide a clean and classic backdrop for your tea party. You can also add some floral arrangements or candles to create a warm and inviting atmosphere.

When planning the menu, it is important to offer a variety of treats to suit different tastes and dietary restrictions. Some popular options include finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, cakes, tarts, and macarons. It is also a good idea to offer a selection of teas to cater to different preferences.

In conclusion, afternoon tea is a beloved British tradition that has been enjoyed for centuries. It is a social event that brings people together to enjoy a cup of tea and a selection of treats. Whether you are visiting a tea room or hosting your own tea party, afternoon tea is an experience that should be savored and enjoyed.

If you’re a tea lover looking to explore new flavors and benefits, you might be interested in learning about the health benefits of red raspberry leaf tea. This herbal tea has been traditionally used to support fertility and reproductive health. To find out more about its potential benefits and how to prepare it, check out this informative article on And if you’re feeling adventurous, why not try making your own dandelion tea? This article on provides step-by-step instructions on how to make dandelion tea using roots, leaves, and flowers. Lastly, if you’re interested in creating unique blends of teas, this article on offers tips and techniques for blending different teas together to create your own personalized flavors. Happy sipping!


What is afternoon tea?

Afternoon tea is a British tradition that involves drinking tea and eating small snacks or pastries in the late afternoon.

When did afternoon tea originate?

Afternoon tea originated in the 19th century in England, when the Duchess of Bedford began having tea and snacks in the afternoon to stave off hunger before dinner.

What is typically served during afternoon tea?

Typically, afternoon tea includes tea, scones with clotted cream and jam, finger sandwiches, and small pastries or cakes.

What is the proper way to serve afternoon tea?

Afternoon tea is traditionally served on a three-tiered stand, with the sandwiches on the bottom, scones in the middle, and pastries on top. The tea is served in a teapot with milk and sugar on the side.

What is the difference between afternoon tea and high tea?

Afternoon tea is a light meal served in the late afternoon, while high tea is a more substantial meal served in the early evening. High tea typically includes hot dishes like meat pies and casseroles, as well as tea and other beverages.

Is afternoon tea still popular today?

Yes, afternoon tea is still a popular tradition in many parts of the world, particularly in the UK and other English-speaking countries. Many hotels and restaurants offer afternoon tea as a special treat or event.