Your afternoon tea questions answered!

Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about afternoon tea answered below by the expert.

What is cream tea?

Cream tea is simply scones and tea. It doesn’t involve any of the additional food like afternoon tea. Cream tea can be taken either at home or in a tea house or hotel.

What is royal afternoon tea?

‘Royal Afternoon Tea’ is when a glass of champagne is added to the meal known as afternoon tea. When a glass of prosecco, cava or sparkling wine is added then it is known as ‘Sparkling Afternoon Tea.’

Do I have to drink tea?

No not necessarily, but traditionally it would have been served with tea and it would be considered a bit odd if you didn’t drink tea with afternoon tea.

What is served at afternoon tea?

Afternoon tea comes in three course, the sandwich course, the scones and finally the pastries. Traditional sandwiches would include: cucumber, smoked salmon, coronation chicken, ham and beef. Some venues serve these on different types of breads.

These would be followed by the scone course. Normally each person would be served one plain and one fruit scone but some venues put their own spin on this and I have seen places serve cheese scones for example.

Pastries are eaten last and can vary between French and English patisserie.

Will I get unlimited sandwiches?

Not all venues offer unlimited sandwiches, or indeed other elements of the afternoon tea, but you would be offered more if that is what the venue does.

Is it cream or jam first?

I say that it is personal preference but traditionally in Cornwall the jam would go on first followed by the cream. In Devon they do the opposite and put the cream on the scone first. There is a lot of debate about this and I think unless you are in Cornwall then it is fine to do whichever you prefer.

What do you wear at afternoon tea?

It is important to check that the venue you have booked doesn’t stipulate a dress code before you arrive. One hotel in London insists on men wearing a tie and jacket and will refuse entry without these!

Is it pinkies up at afternoon tea?

No, it is considered to be poor afternoon tea etiquette to drink tea with the little finger sticking out.

Eileen Donagheyafternoon tea