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Everything Stops for Tea - Afternoon Tea Recipes

Afternoon Tea Recipe Collection


Once-upon-a time-everything in the UK and Ireland did stop for tea, an Afternoon Tea. Afternoon tea recipes aren't complicated but do need a little planning as the quintessentially British tradition of sandwiches, scones, cakes and tea takes time. One easy way to make it easier is to make some components  (scones, cakes etc) in advance, freeze then defrost when needed.

Afternoon tea is such a special treat and even though it may not fit a modern lifestayle it is good especially on high days, holidays and celebrations.

An Afternoon Tea - What is it?

Michael Blann/The Image Bank/Getty Images

It is believed that credit for the custom of the Afternoon Tea goes to Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford in the early 19th century. Serving dinner as late as 9:00 pm which left the Duchess hungry. To stave off that hunger she would order tea, bread, and cakes in her room. The habit caught on and afternoon tea was born... read more

A traditional afternoon tea, whether an Irish tea or an English tea, will start with finger-sized sandwiches, followed by scones with butter, jam and/or cream, then an assortment of cakes and, of course, lashings of tea.

Afternoon tea should not be mistaken for a Cream Tea, or a high tea High Tea or Tea in England is the early evening meal (dinner) and is considered a mainly northern working-class term. As afternoon tea was more often served in the parlour or in the garden, the tea would be served at low tables, High Te was taken at the table seated on dining chairs, hence were known as High Tea. /p>

Simple Sandwiches

Elaine Lemm

Afternoon tea starts with sandwiches. The sandwiches are usually made with thinly sliced bread, and in 'posh' establishments, the crusts are removed. There will always (or should be) a mixture of white and brown bread sandwiches.

Traditional fiilings for afternoon tea are, buttered bread with -

  • Thinly sliced, fresh cucumber.
  • Very thinly sliced ham and perhaps, a little mustard
  • Egg Mayo
  • Roast Beef
  • Cheese and Pickle (Chutney or Branston)
  • Tuna
  • Tinned Salmon with or w/o cucumber

Scones, Jam and Cream - Yum

Elaine Lemm

Super light, warm scones usually follow on from the sandwiches. The scones can be plain, fruit, or cheese depending on what you serve alongside. Plain or fruit will demand both butter, jam and or cream,  and  for the cheese, serve alone with butter.

Home made scones for afternoon tea, sweet or savory are made quickly and easily as in this scones recipe. They are delicious hot or cold and British scones are a major part in any afternoon tea.

Use baking powder or a mixture of bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar as your raising agent. You can use self rising (raising) flour but will achieve a better rise with plain flour and a raising agent.

Feed Me Cake or a Tart - Both are Delicious

Elaine Lemm

The final course in a traditional afternoon tea is the cake - either slices of a large cake, cupcakes, or small iced buns (also known as Fancies) and/or depending on how hungry or decadent you feel, a slice or two tart.

Try to include some (one or two are enough) of the following.

Tarts may Include



Not Always, But Sometimes

Elaine Lemm

There are traditional recipes for an afternoon tea, and there are, as always, those anomolies of local tradition, family customs, or personal taste that involve recipes outside of the norm. Some, often in Scotland, will also include a savoury dish, nothing heavy just a snack type dish to balance with all the sweet.

Recipes to consider are:


And of Course, the Tea

Cup of Tea
Photo © Getty Images

Britain and Ireland drink more tea than anywhere else in the world and it's no wonder then that the important part of an afternoon tea naturally must be the tea. Tea in Britain and Ireland is almost an art form. Sure, there's the throw-the-tea-bag-in-the-cup method, but for those that really appreciate an afternoon tea, getting the the drinking part of the tea right is paramount to its success.

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