How to throw a properly British Afternoon Tea party

The fine British tradition of taking an afternoon tea has seemingly never been as popular as it is today. With the help of shows such as The Great British Bake Off, the nation has taken to baking like eggs to flour and the sweet mid-afternoon treat has been well and truly reinstated.


Whilst an afternoon tea should be approached as a fairly relaxing affair, there is a certain formality involved. Guests at a tea will have expectations of their afternoon, and that will start with the setting.

Set the scene with a traditional tiered cake stand as well as doilies, folded napkins, and even name place signs for each of the guests. You’ll also need a teapot with enough capacity to hold tea for all the guests, as well as teacups, cutlery, and cake slices for serving the cake. A traditional table cloth will set the whole look off perfectly.

When your party-goers arrive, make sure the tea is prepared. Offer a range of teas from Earl Grey to camomile, fruit to peppermint, and English Breakfast of course. You might like to offer an iced tea for a more refreshing summer afternoon tipple, and perhaps add a touch of Pimm’s to really relax with.

An afternoon tea spread needn’t follow any particular rules, but a typical tea party will offer a layer of sandwiches, a layer of cakes, and a layer of scones or teacakes. You could also pop on a few pastries, petits fours, and a selection of biscuits too.

Sandwiches are a staple of any British spread, and are integral to a successful afternoon tea. To avoid serving a soggy sandwich, have the fillings prepared ahead of time and assemble just ahead of time.

For something extra special, bring out a platter of French Fancies, which are sure to lend your party a certain je ne sais quoi.


We offer all of the foods you might need for your own afternoon tea, and can create custom cakes for birthdays or other special occasions. Simply visit our website to get in touch.