After studying abroad in London last semester there’s one thing that I now know for sure: the British take their afternoon tea seriously. From themed tea parlors like Sketch on Oxford Street to more traditional settings like Maids of Honours in the suburbs of Kew, there is absolutely no doubt that they’ve got tea down to a tee. While in America the coffee culture has been so dominant, there’s a new wave of tea appreciation rising. But instead of substituting one caffeinated drink for another, why not go all out—at home. This basic guide will tell you everything you need to throw your own afternoon tea party to class up your gossip time.
The most basic of all is to get your teas sorted out. Make sure you have a few classic flavors to choose from like Earl Grey or English breakfast. Once you’ve got those covered, perhaps add in one or two flavors you haven’t tried before. Search here for a detailed list of teas.
Another crucial part of the afternoon tea process is the scones. Store-bought scones can do the trick, however, if you feel like doing the homemade thing then try this recipe. Plain butter scones are extremely easy to prepare and cooking time isn’t that long either. And to accompany your luscious scones, make sure that you pick up some clotted cream and strawberry jam. The combination of these toppings are perfect together and add just the right balance of sweetness.
3. Mini Sandwiches and Crackers
Next you’ve got the option of either mini sandwiches or crackers (or both). For sandwiches, the British stick to the classics so anything from tuna to salmon to ham and cheese is good. And in terms of crackers, pâté is usually a good idea. Scratch that, pâté is always a good idea. If you’re feeling extra fancy take a look here at how to add some decoratively edible details to your small bites.
Since you’ve got your savory goodies, don’t forget you need some sweets in the mix too. Though it’s not British per se, no afternoon tea these days are complete without a one or two French macarons. If you don’t live near anywhere that sells them, maybe reconsider adding macarons into your afternoon tea—they’re extremely hard to bake and a great many have failed in the process. But if you’re a brave one and your stomach won’t settle for less, here’s a recipe for you to try.
Last but not least are the pastries. These can really be anything, but try to keep them small—bite size is chic (apparently). Some suggestions are mini egg tarts, mini lemon tarts and mini fruit tarts. You see the trend here right?
If you followed the steps above, you’re set for food. To really complete afternoon tea though you’re still missing one feature. So sue me for being a little extravagant, but the whole experience wouldn’t feel complete if you don’t have the big centerpiece to hold it all together. You know exactly what I’m talking about: the three tier tea stand. If you don’t want to splurge on aesthetics you can definitely make some using items from your kitchen. Follow this link for instructions.
Ultimately, you’re aiming for something that looks a little like this: