How To Serve Afternoon Tea At Home (with VIDEO)

Sharing my top tips for how to serve afternoon tea at home including our favorite recipes and what to include.

woman serving tea at a tea table

Traditional afternoon tea has a long history and certainly, someone else is more qualified to tell you than I. Rather I do have an immense appreciation for the occasion. I have been serving afternoon tea in my home since my daughter was very small. Although not every day, I try to do this at least monthly for us. Her eyes always light up when she enters the room and sees the beautiful display. I like to treat us to a bit of fancy even if it is just for an afternoon at home.

We do very untraditionally at times, substitute a tea in place of lunch or dinner making it a bit more American of us. However, I like to keep the traditions of tea time where they count. The presentation, teas served, and of course the menu. Today I have created yet another afternoon tea in our home and I want to take you along for it. Showing you two delicious and traditional foods to serve. Alongside a mock mimosa for the kids or if you just don’t want to have alcohol at your tea.

​Afternoon Tea’s Are Also Great For…

  • A special occasion like a baby shower, bridal shower or birthday tea parties.
  • Holidays like Mother’s Day, Easter, and even Valentine’s Day with the kids.
  • ​Hosting friends, or serving lunch or brunch.

What To Serve At An Afternoon Tea

We begin in the kitchen creating our tasty dishes to prepare our afternoon tea spread. I like to have at least two options one savory and one sweet when hosting a tea but it is best to have a few tarts or different sweet treats to choose from. The two I am suggesting today are no strangers to the tea table and are likely found on lists of top foods to serve for afternoon teas. 

The first is for me an afternoon tea staple, the scone. For today’s tea, I made blueberry but you can swap the blueberries out for any berries you love. I use this raspberry scone recipe as my base.

 In addition to scones, are tea sandwiches. I always make my cucumber sandwiches for tea but egg salad is another great choice. If you are up for it, make both. Having a good selection certainly never hurts.

Other ideas for afternoon tea include mini cakes, a mix of pastries, and savory dishes like quiche or sausage rolls. If you are hosting a special occasion consider a tiered cake.

scones on a plate for afternoon tea

Setting The Afternoon Tea Table

The nice thing about serving afternoon tea at home is that you can set up your tea anywhere you like. A garden setting is lovely if you have an area to do so but your dining room will do fine. To set the table, I keep it classic with a white linen tablecloth. If you have ever been to an afternoon tea at a tea shop, you know white is the classic choice. It is crisp and brightens up the whole table. 

Next, each guest should have a place setting. I place charges on each setting first. Then we will work around them. Carefully place candles and it is a good idea to opt for a simple bouquet in the center of the table. You never want to use an over-the-top floral arrangement in the center of a tea table. It will likely block the view between guests and certainly will disrupt the flow of the conversation.

For flatware, a simple knife and spoon will do as finger foods are normally served for this occasion. Using your fine china is not necessary but it is a great way to elevate the experience. 

Ensure your guests have all they need with a teacup, a glass of water, and a lovely cocktail. Today I made mock mimosas that consist of just sparkling water and orange juice. This makes a fantastic substitute for a regular mimosa if serving children or wanting to keep your tea alcohol-free. Pour the same amount of sparkling water as you would champagne and fill it with orange juice.

serving afternoon tea at home

Food Set Up and Afternoon Tea Etiquette

I realize we are talking about how to serve afternoon tea at home and while this is easily something that gets relaxed, keeping the etiquette as if you were in a fancy tea room makes a difference.

Whether you are creating your own afternoon tea party at home for you and your kiddos. Or for a special event, food placement is important. The food should be placed in easily accessible areas of the table.

If you have a cake stand or even better, a traditional three-tiered caddy this will create that classic afternoon tea feel and it is a beautiful way to present the food.

Anticipate you and your guests needs for the food being served. Are you serving classic scones? For this have jam and a bit of clotted cream to serve alongside. Make sure they are placed in small ramekins around the table to make it accessible to everyone. A nice traditional element to add to the table is to whip up some of this mock clotted cream if you are unable to find the real thing.

serving afternoon tea

Next, the focus is on the tea itself. Making sure to serve a nice tea that everyone loves. English breakfast and black teas are popular choices. Especially if you only plan to serve one type. If possible serve at least two different types. Today I am serving Earl Grey but In the Garden, Moroccan Mint, or even Sunrise Tea are great teas to try. Herbal teas make nice additions as well as green tea when serving black tea. Make sure your guests are given the option of sliced lemons, cream, and sugar.

The tea should be ready to serve as well and be within reach of your guests. As the host, it is also nice to pour the first cup of tea for your guest to make them feel welcome.

Final Thoughts

Afternoon tea served at home can bring in a bit of elegance to a regular day at home while spoiling the people you care about most. There is nothing quite a sweet as the look in my daughters eyes when she enters the room and finds the table displayed. I find my efforts well worth it and the memories we create while doing these sorts of things are priceless.

I hope my tips help inspire you to create your own afternoon tea experience and who knows, maybe this will be a new tradition for you.

Create an Afternoon Tea with Me

Recipes From Video

Raspberry Scones

Cucumber Sandwiches

*Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through the links I provide (at no cost to you).

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