By Debbie Watson
If there’s one meal that sums up Britishness, it’s afternoon tea. Whether you’re a fan of the bite-sized sandwiches, the freshly baked scones with a dollop of clotted cream or the wonderfully creative cakes, the one thing we can all agree on is the sense of occasion it brings to the table. Afternoon tea was said to have been invented by Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, as a light snack to fill the gap between breakfast and a late dinner. This quickly caught on in high society and soon enough, everyone was partaking in this afternoon ritual. Nowadays, afternoon tea is seen as a luxury - a special treat for a birthday or Mother’s Day – but it couldn’t be simpler to host your own afternoon tea with a few hints from our useful guide.
Pick your teapot
Whether you opt for traditional black tea or a more exotic blend, you’ll need a beautiful teapot at the centre of it all. Tea for two? With its stunning floral design, our hand-painted Isphahan Teapot will certainly make an impact, but for something simpler yet equally capacious, choose the Sorano Teapot. If it’s tea for one, don’t despair - go for this small, charming teapot, complete with matching cup.
Choose colourful cups
We’d be the first to argue that tea poured from a teapot should be served in a cup and saucer, but our Florya Mugs are so delightful, in their case we’ve made an exception. For the traditionalists amongst you, our Kraak Cup and Saucer Set featuring hand-painted blue and white Chinese scenes is the perfect choice for afternoon tea.
It's the little things
Remember to accessorise your table with a sugar bowl and milk jug (which could even be filled with cream if you’re feeling indulgent). If you’re serving scones, don’t forget the butter dish and also decant clotted cream and jam into small bowls so guests can help themselves.
Don't forget the table linen
With sandwiches, scones and cakes aplenty, there’s bound to be a few stray crumbs here and there so make sure you’ve a large napkin at each place setting (our embroidered cupcake design would be perfectly suited to the occasion). If you want to smarten up an everyday dining table, a plain white linen tablecloth should do the trick.
Get top marks for presentation
When hosting afternoon tea in your own home, you can afford to have some fun with the tableware selection. Contrast a white tablecloth with either our Leyla or Schiap plates, both of which feature bold patterns and bright colours to give your table an instant lift. And our large Sorano platter with its pretty scalloped edges would make a great serving plate for finger sandwiches or even a large Victoria sponge.
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