What is Afternoon Tea?

When thinking about England and all of the wonderful and quaint traditions that it still holds dear, it would be fair to say that classic afternoon tea is very much in that category. Tourists and natives alike flock to establishments like the Royal Lancaster London in order to indulge in a quintessential ‘spot of tea’, but what does this spot of tea actually entail?

For those who have not had the pleasure of experiencing it before, and those who are craving a reminder, here are some of the classic elements that make up a traditional English afternoon tea.

● Cream Tea – The Cornerstone Element

What you absolutely must have in order to experience a traditional afternoon tea is a pot of English tea, scones, and cream. These are the three basic items that started the tradition, and these are the three basic items around which there is no room for manoeuvre or discussion.

● Savoury Foods – To Quench the Appetite

Tea drinking is always something that stirs up hunger and appetite, so in a good afternoon tea there is always a selection of savoury items to balance out the delicious scones and cream. Traditionally, these savoury morsels include finger sandwiches filled with ingredients like cucumber, egg, or sometimes a fish mixture like tuna and mayonnaise.

● Tower Presentation – A Visually Stunning Treat

The trademark assembly of a classic afternoon tea involves placing the food items onto a tiered tray, and there is always a specific order to follow. The cream tea items (scones and cream) are placed on the top tier, the middle tier is reserved for ‘light tea’ items which are further sweet treats like cupcakes, strawberries, and shortbread biscuits, and then the bottom tier is where the savouries are presented. It is a matter of debate about when exactly this order was decided, but there is no doubting that it must be followed to be considered correct.

● Delicate And Dainty – Everything Must Be Small And Perfect

The unique selling point of an afternoon tea is in the expert delicacy and intricacy that is achieved by the chefs. Everything that is presented on the tray is miniature, perfect, and dainty, and these are the trademark characteristics that must be adhered to if you want an afternoon tea to be considered traditional and proper.

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