Afternoon Tea In Great Britain – Part 1

Afternoon Tea in Great Britain

afternoon tea in great britain

This post is the first in an upcoming series on afternoon tea in Great Britain.  I will be traveling to Great Britain later in the month, and sharing my journey with you.  I hope that you will participate with me through comments and on Facebook.  Join our RSS feed and our email to be included in the full story.

I love London.  Always have.  My first visit was during the summer of 1988 when I lived on canal boats and learned to drink tea.  It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.  Since then I have visited the British Isle’s about 13 times.  My upcoming trip is my first in ten years and I am excited to “get home.”

Afternoon tea in Great Britain is undergoing a resurgence.  Once a daily ritual, the Starbucks revolution nearly pushed it out of existence in the modern era.   Today, however, business owners are meeting clients for tea instead of lunch with all the elegance of a bi-gone era.



Quick tea time history!  Tea came to Great Britain in 1657 and was originally served in coffee shops.  Within a few short years, tea was all the rage!  Afternoon tea became popular in the mid 1800′s and is an active custom to this day.


My personal trip will include 4 days in London, 3 days in Plymouth, 4 days roaming the seashore and Cotswold and 2 days in the air.  I look forward to sharing it with you!



P.S.  Where are your favorite places to visit in Britain?

Afternoon Tea – An Afterschool Tradition

Afternoon Tea Cookies

Afternoon tea after school

Have you ever caught yourself saying, “what is happening to the children of this world?”  Do you feel frustrated with rude and inappropriate behavior at every turn?  If so, it may be time for you to do something about it.  YES YOU!  You can do something about your community by adopting a child for afternoon tea. Over the years,  numerous women have shared with me their tea journey.  For many, after school tea with a relative set in motion their passion for afternoon tea tradition and a finer way of life.  If you did not enjoy teatime with a relative consider starting a tradition of your own.  Why not share teatime with your own children or the neighborhood kids?  Afternoon tea is a gentle art that is taught.  You can be the teacher and you can impart peace to the next generation if you will simply take the time.

Here are a few suggestion to get you moving in the right direction.

Afternoon Tea Cookies

#1 Snacks Required:   Afternoon tea with children can be as simple as sliced fruit, cinnamon toast and an herbal cup of tea.  (they tend to love anything cinnamon)  Don’t forget to offer real sugar cubes and don’t be surprised if they have more fun with the sugar cubes then the tea :)  The goal here is to offer a snack not a meal.  I suggest that you ask the child what some of their favorite foods or flavors are and offer an appropriate menu.  Many children have never had scones and love the process of adding butter and jam.

KEY: Clever shapes, unusual tableware and seasonal themes always add to the fun when you are working with children.

Afternoon Tea with Kids


#2 Manners Appreciated: Don’t assume your new protege knows his or her manners.  Most children have never seen or heard anything like formal table manners.   Plan to teach the etiquette basics and give them time to practice.  If you make manners fun, children will look forward to coming to your home.  I suggest  teaching where to place your napkin, where to place your hands, (and elbows) eye contact, chewing with your mouth closed, how to sit and quiet stirring and sipping.  Consider offering a prize each time the child remembers their manners.


#3 Ritual is Key: Life is chaotic for most children.  They are shuffled from here to there and back again.  Offering a consistent ritual that a child can look forward to is a great way to offer peace in a storm.  You can be the one thing that is secure.  It is important to make every attempt to keep your afternoon tea party at the same time each week (or each day).  Don’t let anything get in the way.  Consistency will build ritual and ritual will build security.

Afternoon Tea Sandwiches

#4 Listen While You Chew:  If you haven’t already figured it out, the most important part of the tea party is not the food, nor the manners,  nor the time of day.  The most important part of afternoon tea with a child is listening.  Initially you may need to start the conversations but in time, the child will be eager to share the latest in their world.  Don’t ask questions like “How was your day” and expect an interesting answer.  Instead offer the child a bowl of questions and ask them to draw one out.  Let the child share their thoughts.  You should also take a turn drawing out a question and letting your table companion get to know you.

Here are some links to sample questions:


#5 Repeat, Repeat, Repeat: If you are building a ritual and changing a life, consistency is key.  Don’t expect fantastic results the first day out.  You must be in it for the long haul.  I suggest that you plan to be available for the entire school year or for the summer break.  Either way have a defined schedule that the child can count on and look forward to.   Rest assured, there will be days when you wish you were doing something other than sitting with a little kid at the table.  You might long for adult conversation.  You might despise the fact that he/she uses all your sugar cubes EVERY TIME.  Remember, this is NOT about you, this is about them.  Keep your focus on them.  Listen. Give. Be There.  Make It Special.

A final word, keep your afternoon tea to a tight schedule.  I suggest 45 minutes or less.  Children have short attention spans so plan to work with it.  Keep the activities rolling and the time will fly by.

You can change the world, one child at a time.  Pour some tea and see what I mean!


Read a fantastic blog post on afternoon tea with your child.

The Tea Service – Afternoon Tea At Its Finest

afternoon tea set

Dear Tea Party Girl Readers,

Today’s post will enable you to impress even your most difficult friends.  The next time you are hosting afternoon tea, share the history of each part of your tea set.  Jaws will drop.  Eyebrows will shoot up.  You will give the general impression of a person who knows all and is able to show it with class.  Ready to be brilliant?

Our guest post is from Joelle Grubb from Teatime Traditions.  In this short article she slices and dices through the traditional tea set giving you important information about each and every piece of tableware.  Enjoy and don’t forget to throw your knowledge around to amaze your friends!


afternoon tea set


A Short History Of The Tea Service Set

by Joelle Grubb

Tea, being the most popular drink in the world, is said to have originated in China and so also the tea set. The Chinese prefer to drink their tea from ceramic cups without handles; a small drinking bowl around which you could ‘cup’ your hands. The first tea cups were small enough to be taken up by two or three fingers and held about two or three tablespoons of tea. It wasn’t until the 17th century that the saucer was invented, so the cup, being too hot to be held in the fingers, could be rested upon it in between sips. The saucer has its own unique history of use, not only being a place to rest the cup but was often used to pour the tea into allowing it to cool down more quickly. When placed on top of the cup, the saucer is said to aid the brewing process.

In the early history of tea drinking, tea cakes (compressed tea leaves) and other spices were placed directly into the cup and water poured over the top. It was not until the Song Dynasty (960-1279 A.D.) that the teapot was invented. By the time the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 A.D.) was at its height loose tea leaves were being used instead of tea cakes and this produced paler liquor which was much admired. Teaware was then designed to make the most of this delicate color and so was born the beautiful blue and white porcelain for which the Ming Dynasty is renowned.

With the arrival of tea to Europe, was also the tea set. In Europe tea was first the domain of royalty and women, and ceramic, handle-less cups and saucers were used. In the mid 1700′s, to prevent the ladies burning their delicate fingers, a man named Robert Adams invented tea cups with handles. The English of course preferred milk and sugar with their tea and so Mr Adams obliged them by creating little milk and sugar pots to match their cups. In keeping with the culture of refined English society, he had the sets made of fine porcelain which is strong yet quite translucent when held up to the light. It was the English who then developed fine bone china by adding crushed animal bone ash to the porcelain making it more durable.

Porcelain endured as the medium from which to drink tea due to its conductivity and the fact that it left no lingering taste from previously held liquids. Its beauty and ornamental value caused it to quickly become a status symbol. These ‘useful decencies’ were as much the object of tea parties as the tea itself. Decorated porcelain tea sets made up of tea cups and saucers, ‘creamers’ and sugar bowls together with the teapot make up what is now known as the English Tea Service Set. Typically, an English tea service set of the 1700′s was presented on a tray, which was then known as a ‘tea table’. These sets were normally used and proudly displayed at high tea (tea served later in the day). English tea cups were the object of many fine and artistic decorations and were often trimmed in gold. With the advent of tea becoming more widely spread among the classes, tea sets in varying grades were now to be found in almost every English home.

afternoon tea set

Whole tea service sets, tea cups, teapots and fine china have always been fascinating objects for collecting, with many also becoming heirlooms. Often given as gifts for special occasions, they can pass on the important stories of a family’s history. The different styles over the centuries distinguish the cultures and their differing tea drinking preferences and customs. Next time you are taking time out for tea, think about the history of the cup you are drinking from or imagine what stories it might take with it to the next generation.

Often given as gifts for special occasions and often becoming heirlooms, tea service sets can pass on the important stories of a family’s history. Next time you are taking time out for tea, think about the history of the cup you are drinking from or imagine what stories it might take with it to the next generation. If you’re looking for a special gift visit our website for a large array of beautiful tea service sets and tea ware.




Tea Party Girl Asks:  What’s your favorite part of the tea set?  Which pieces do you collect?

Travel To London For Afternoon Tea – Virtually

afternoon tea



afternoon tea In Great Britain, every day is time for tea and there is nothing more elegant (or expensive) than taking afternoon tea in London.  Today’s post is an ode to all British tearoom’s and a chance to do a virtual visit.  First stop, the ultimate guide to British afternoon tea,  On this site you can leisurely peruse the tables of tearooms all over the country.  From the Muffin Man to the Lanesbourough and every tearoom in between.  I could literally spend hours on this site. (while drinking a cup of tea of course!)  Don’t forget to check out the tearooms in Scotland as well.

If you are wondering what the best tearoom in London is, you are in luck. Recently the top annual award for afternoon tea went to The Goring Hotel, a London staple.  Each year afternoon tea is evaluated by anonymous patrons.  The judges consider the service, the table setting, the china, the food and of course, the tea.  (what a job!)  You can read more about the award here:    When choosing a place to take tea in London be sure to look at the overall experience and not just the price.  Consider reviews, location and whether or not afternoon tea reservations are required.  There are many great mom and pop tearooms that will offer a cuppa and a slice of cake so there is no need for great expense each and every day.  In fact, my tea career started when I dashed into The Muffin Man in 1995 to get out of the pouring rain.  Here’s a peek at this every day tea shop:

On a personal note, one of my favorite places to take tea in London is on the South Bank.  At this tearoom I can enjoy a strong cup of tea with a view of Big Ben then easily stroll to the London Eye for a 20 minute bird’s eye view of the city.  Tea is served in a grand old library filled with antique books and mahogany bookshelves.  You feel like you have stepped into another world and you are sure that Agatha Christie will come to visit at any moment.  For more info:     I once did 10 afternoon teas in London, in a week.  I basically ate nothing else.  I guess I just can’t get enough :)My favorite accompaniment to any tea time food is our new, British Bliss tea.  This is a rich Keemun that will hold up the the most delicious sweets and the tangiest savories.  There is no need to switch back and forth from tea to tea.  If you brew a pot of British Bliss you can enjoy it with every course including cheese.

Now pour yourself a cuppa and place your vote for best virtual teatime!


Tea at the Savoy


Tea Around London


Tea at the Threadneedles Hotel


Tea at the Hotel Windsor


Tea at the Fairmont Empress


Tea at Fortnum and Mason’s


Tea at Harrods


Tea Party Girl says:  What’s your favorite afternoon tea from these videos?  What’s your favorite from personal experience? 

How Do I Host A Tea For Two?



Summer is almost here and now is a great time to catch up with friends and family in a relaxed setting.  Afternoon tea at home or in the garden is a great way to unwind, laugh, smile and catch up on the gossip.  In this post I will be sharing some simple ideas for pulling a tea for two together.  Personally, tea for two is one of my favorite ways to celebrate life.

Let’s start with some video inspiration.  Here is a fresh video to get you excited about entertaining for two.

Come for Tea – with Cindy Harris


Cindy walks you step by step through hosting a very casual tea party in your home dining room. I like her ideas. I would however suggest that you dress things up just a bit by adding a favor for your guest and perhaps a few more garnishes on the tea tray. Personally, I would like to see you use tea cups as mugs are very every day and a teacup says ” you are special.”

Cindy has more ideas on her website:

Now let’s look at some recipe ideas.  One of the biggest problems with tea for two is cooking.  Unless you are running to the bakery for each of your items making scones for two, cookies for two and tea sandwiches for only two is a challenge.   Problem solved!  Here are a few great recipes for getting the job done right.

First, let me introduce you to my personal secret weapon.  Small Batch Baking is my all time favorite cookbook because it allows you to bake for 2 or 3 servings.  This works perfect for me since there are only two in my family. (the four cats rarely eat dessert!)  It also works great when I have a guest for afternoon tea.


Book Suggestions:

Small Batch Baking by Debby Maugans Nakos

Small Batch Baking for Chocolate Lovers by Debby Nakos

Cupcakes for Two by Alex True ( Kindle only – Free for Amazon Prime Members to borrow)


Website Suggestions:

Dessert for Two  This website is filled with creative recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and goodies!  She even has gluten free ideas.

Pillsbury  Pillsbury can be a quick way to make something special.  This site offers recipes for two.  Check them out and add your own flare!

Women’s Day  This was a great article listing 10 desserts for two.  They are talking about Valentines day but the ideas can be used at any time of the year.



Scones for Two

No tea time is complete without hot, fresh scones.  Here is a simple recipe that allows you to make just two or three scones.  Freeze the dough ahead and pop it into a toaster oven for hot fresh scones for two people!  This recipe was created by Ashley Mott.


1 cup of self rising flour (if you use all purpose then add ½ teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of baking powder)

1 egg

1-½ tablespoons of butter

1/8 cup of sugar

½ teaspoon of vanilla

¼ cup of soymilk (can substitute dairy milk or heavy cream)



1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Grease your baking pan.

3. Mix flour (and, if necessary, salt and baking powder) with granulated sugar.

4. Cut in your butter using twin fork method or a pastry blender.

5. Mix together you egg, vanilla, and soymilk with a whisk.

6. Add liquids to the dry mixture and blend.

7. Turn on to floured service, need, and shape.

8. Lay out on cookie sheet.

9. Bake for a quarter of an hour and enjoy!


Please note! Scones can be frozen ahead of time so you can also use a full recipe, freeze the dough and pull them out to bake as needed.  The video below shares a recipe for a classic English Scone which can be adapted for two if you freeze the extras.

Classic English Scones


Cream Scone Recipe from Joy Of

2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour

1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar

2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup (75 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup (120 ml) milk, half-and-half, or heavy cream



Cream or Milk


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and place the rack in the middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender, two knives, or with your fingertips. (The mixture should look like coarse crumbs.) In a small measuring cup whisk together the milk or cream, beaten egg and vanilla. Add this mixture to the flour mixture. Stir just until combined. Do not over mix.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough gently four or five times and then pat into a 7 inch (18 cm) round. Then, using a lightly floured 2 1/2 inch (6.5 cm) round cookie cutter, cut the dough into rounds. Place the rounds on the prepared cookie sheet, spacing a few inches apart. Brush the tops of the scones with a little cream. (This helps to brown the tops of the scones during baking.)

Bake for about 15 – 18 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of a scone comes out clean. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve with Devon cream or softly whipped cream and your favorite jam. These scones are best the day they are made but can be covered and stored for a few days. They also freeze very well.

Makes about 10 – 2 1/2 inch (6.5 cm) round scones.

Read more:



Tea Sandwiches for Two

Tea sandwiches for two is simply about adjusting your portions.  I suggest you figure 1 full sandwich for two people.  Remove the crusts and cut the sandwich into 4 triangles or 4 long rectangles.  You can now garnish them and have 2 tea sandwiches per person.  Choose 3 types of sandwiches and repeat the process.  I recommend a cucumber, a chicken salad and a ham and cheese.  These are simple and easy to prepare.

The following video will give you some additional recipes and ideas however this is NOT for two people.  You must adjust accordingly.  Full recipes and video is available at

If you haven’t seen the Tea Party Girl post on Cucumber Sandwiches see it here:


** Image at the top is featured at….

See more on this image at



Tea Party Girls asks:  Do you have a recipe for two?  Share it here!