Afternoon Tea – The British Way

Afternoon Tea – The British Way

By Amber Gill

There’s only one way to have an afternoon tea spread and it’s the way the brits do it. If there’s one thing they know how to do well, it’s a good ole tea.

Having been born in Oxford, England and spending most of my life there, I know a few things about good afternoon teas.

So if you’re entertaining and want to create your own, ‘fit for the Queen’ type of afternoon tea, then keep reading. Firstly, you’ll need a 3 tiered serving platter. This is your vessel for all the afternoon tea treats.

Tier no.1 Savoury

Let’s start with the lowest platter which is savoury. You have to include mini finger sandwiches (crusts are forbidden) and think simple yet traditional fillings like¬†cucumber dill and cream cheese, ploughman’s (cheese and branston pickles), coronation chicken, egg and chive. You can make up most of the fillings beforehand and then assemble them closer to tea time, to avoid a soggy sandwich. I would make three whole sandwiches with three different fillings and cut one big sandwich into 3- 4 long pieces and the other two into 4 triangle pieces and serve 10 pieces on one platter.

Vary the bread and use white, brown and granary. Make sure the bread is square and has no holes or gaps otherwise you’ll have a nightmare making perfect triangles. Trust me I made this mistake once! Don’t forget to keep a sharp knife around to cut with ease.

Tier no.2 The Scone

Let’s move on to my favourite tier – the scones! They should be placed on your second tier and don’t overcrowd the platter. I would put 4 – 5 scones. You can serve traditional plain scones, fruit scones or go whacky with a chocolate and date scone. Whip them up on the day or if you just don’t have time for that then make them a week before and freeze them. All you have to do is reheat them on a low oven setting and serve. You’ll need 3 pots with 3 condiments served with the scones.

Clotted cream. Essentially there should be clotted cream, butter and strawberry jam served with the scones in miniature individual pots. Now, clotted cream isn’t too easy to find so either you can try to make your own (good luck) or cheat and buy thick double cream as a replacement.

Butter. Make sure the butter is slightly softened in its pot otherwise you’ll rip through the scone trying to spread it.

Strawberry jam. For the jam, if you want to make your own then more power to you but this is heavily dependent on the seasonal berry. I would avoid all this fuss and pick up a good quality brand of strawberry jam. Just don’t be cheap here, as bad jam can ruin the best scone.

Tier no 3. The mini desserts

The bad ( for your waistline) tier full of sweet treats tops off the afternoon tea platter. You’ll need an array of desserts for this tier ranging from mini sponge cakes, cupcakes, teacakes, petit fours, mini eclairs, mini muffins, biscuits, mini tarts and madeleines. That’s a lot, I know, but don’t go nuts and try to make everything! Pick three desserts and make 2-3 of each.

I personally love mini layered cakes, eclairs and mini tarts to be on my top tier but go with whatever floats your boat.

Don’t forget your pot of tea!

Quite honestly, just brew your favourite tea and serve it and I would suggest providing some other options for your guests. Here are some types to get you going.

  • Assam
  • Darjeeling
  • Earl Grey
  • English breakfast
  • Fruit teas

If you have a larger number of guests coming over then make multiple (2-4) tiers consisting of the same goodies and place those tiers spaced out, down the centre of the table. Get out your best crockery, teacups, tea forks and spoons and go ahead and mix and match colours and patterns!

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