Recipes and Products for an Unforgettable Afternoon Tea

If these don't inspire you to slow down and enjoy your afternoon, we don't know what will.

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May 28, 2021
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The next time your belly grumbles at about 3 p.m. and you know you’ll need a snack to tide you over till dinnertime, don’t just grab any old pack of crackers from the cupboard (or your desk drawer or the office vending machine). Instead, why not enjoy a little break, complete with delicious snacks and a nice cup of tea? While most Americans do not make a habit of sitting down for afternoon tea, we can’t help but think now — when many of us are craving in-person conversations with friends more than ever — is the perfect time.

The tradition of afternoon tea dates back to the 1830s or 1840s, according to NPR, and the British have Anna Maria Russell, duchess of Bedford, to thank for its rise in popularity; legend has it she turned one hungry afternoon into a fashionable custom among friends. Afternoon tea began as a fancy social affair that, sadly, is no longer quite the lavish event it was almost 200 years ago. It’s simply not as common today for the British to sip their afternoon tea with a spread of finger sandwiches, scones and cakes, and it’s even more of a rarity for coffee-loving Americans to slow down, heat up the kettle and enjoy a few light bites with friends.

We think, though, that the right tableware, menu and tools might just inspire all of us to plan more afternoon tea dates — packaged snacks not included.

Teacups

First things first: Dress (the table) to impress. Personalized teacups will make everyone at your afternoon tea feel welcome and really set the tone for a memorable afternoon. We're pretty sure no one will be able to resist these beautiful teacups, especially when they see their name in shiny gold foil vinyl.

In addition to teacups, you'll also want an eye-catching teapot from which to pour your perfectly steeped beverage. Keep in mind, this porcelain gem is just for show: We recommend a top-rated tea kettle to actually boil your water.

Tea Sandwiches

Photo by: Sully Sullivan

Sully Sullivan

No afternoon tea spread is complete without, you guessed it, tea sandwiches. Use Kardea Brown's recipe to easily make two kinds of tea sandwiches: smoked salmon with onion cream cheese, as well as an egg and bacon salad variety. You can even make the egg salad a day ahead so the sandwiches are quicker to assemble the day you plan to eat them — just don't forget to cut off the crusts!

Tea

This stunning tea box comes complete with large deluxe-sized teas and a surprise tea infuser; you can place a one-time order, but we have a feeling you'll want to join the club after just one sip.

Another delicious tea option is this Japanese matcha-infused green tea from Lipton. It has a smooth, earthy taste that's complemented with a hint of spicy ginger. When you need a little something to help you power through the afternoon, this is your best bet.

Scones

Classic 100 Scones

Photo by: Caitlin Ochs

Caitlin Ochs

Food Network Kitchen's recipe for The Best Scones is sure to make any afternoon tea celebration more delicious. The extra-rich taste of these cream scones comes from using milk powder in addition to butter and cream. Use a light touch when combining the dough so you can be sure your scones have a tender crumb.

Cakes

Finger foods are always welcome at afternoon tea, and we could easily see ourselves enjoying a few of these Mascarpone Mini Cupcakes with Strawberry Glaze (politely, of course). No one needs to know they start with a boxed cake mix!

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