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June 7th, 2012
The One About Afternoon Tea

Thursday Thirteen

Recently my husband took me to a traditional afternoon tea at Cornwell Park in Central Auckland. It’s always fun setting aside the jeans for something a little dressier and enjoying the occasion. Our afternoon tea inspired my TT this week.

Thirteen Things About Afternoon Tea

1. We had our afternoon tea at the Cornwall Park Restaurant. They’ve been selling refreshments and cups of tea since 1908.

Cornwall Park Restaurant

2. Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford is said to have invented afternoon tea. At the time most people ate two meals during the day—breakfast and dinner, which was taken late in the evening (around 8 pm). The Duchess started to have light refreshments and a pot of tea in the afternoon. She invited friends to join her and took the habit with her when she returned to London. Other women liked the habit so much, they started to follow suit. Afternoon tea was born.

Cornwell Park, Afternoon Tea

3. A traditional afternoon tea consists of scones (usually still warm from the oven) served with jam and cream, a selection of sandwiches (usually egg, ham, salmon, cucumber) and finished with a selection of delicious cakes. This is all washed down with lots of cups of tea.

Afternoon Tea selection

4. Tea was first drunk in China and it’s said that Catherine of Braganza, the consort of Charles II first introduced tea to England.

5. The British government placed taxes on tea, which meant smugglers played a big part in bringing tea into the country. They found that churches were excellent places to hide their smuggled goods.

Lapsang Souchong tea

6. I chose Lapsang Souchong tea, which has a very smoky taste, while Mr. Munro chose Nepal Masala Chai tea with cinnamon, ginger and cloves.

7. No one knows where scones originated, but they’ve always been associated with England, Scotland and Ireland. It’s thought that they most likely came from Scotland.

8. Our scones came served with whipped cream and raspberry jam. Personally, I prefer them with clotted cream. Yum!

9. Clotted cream is thick cream, which is obtained by heating milk slowly and allowing it to cool. The cream content rises to the top in coagulated lumps. It’s decadent and delicious and not exactly good for you Who me?

10. John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich is associated with the sandwich. He loved to gamble and didn’t want to leave his game. He ordered his valet to bring him meat placed between two slices of bread. Other men called for meals the same as Sandwich.

11. We had egg, salmon and ham sandwiches, but most British afternoon teas have cucumber sandwiches. Here’s a link to two versions of a cucumber sandwich that look delicious.

12. Cakes. Yummy cakes in small bite sized pieces. We had chocolate cake, lemon meringue pie, sticky date, lemon friands, a flourless nut cake. Chocolate eclairs are also a good addition. Just saying!

13. My favorite place to have afternoon tea is the Ritz in Picadilly, London. It takes place in the Palm Court, and there’s a dress code. No jeans allowed. This is something that must be booked ahead of time—weeks ahead—but it’s well worth it with relaxing piano music and very attentive waiters. Here’s the menu for the Ritz afternoon tea.  I highly recommend this experience if you’re ever in London.

Are you a fan of afternoon tea? Do you have a favorite afternoon tea spot?

27 comments to “The One About Afternoon Tea”

  1. Wonderful list..I’ve never done afternoon tea and it sounds splendid.

  2. It’s a lot of fun, Savannah. I drag off my hubby whenever I can :)

  3. Oh, you are KILLING me. I have never had a traditional tea like this and I want to so badly! The clotted cream! The tea sandwiches! The scone!

  4. Lydia,

    You know you could always get your friends together and do your own version. It would work great for a get together with girlfriends or even for a book launch :)

  5. I’d hate to have to go that many hours between meals.

  6. Exactly! Afternoon tea was a very practical idea to fill the gap.

  7. I am a tea drinker as well as coffee. I’ve never had the types of tea you had but I would try them. Just this morning I had a Bigelow Tea flavored with the rind of oranges and sweet spices. I love this one because it reminds me of Halloween. The orange and cinnamon or whatever spice it has in it puts off a scent that really takes me right to Halloween…lol

    Scones and cakes and tea sandwiches oh my! You’re talking my language now…I love me some sweets..A selection of cakes and scones sounds like heaven.

  8. Your tea sounds a little about the one hubby had. There are so many wonderful teas available – something for everyone.

  9. Sounds fun!


    My TT is at

  10. It was, Paige. Thanks!

  11. Ah Shelley – I LOVE afternoon tea! There’s a place in Oxnard, California called Fresh & Fabulous that serves tea only on Saturdays, and you must make a reservation – but it’s a lovely tea. They have a tea menu – for the actual tea itself. The sandwiches and scones are a delight, as is the quiche and salad and dessert.

    Oh dear…now I’m hungry…

  12. LOL it’s a delightful tradition and one I totally subscribe to!

  13. Oh, I just love tea. My family are all coffee dinker but not me. :)

    I’d love to have a real after noon tea at least once. There’s a place in Fresno that serves a real English tea, I’ll have to take my daughter one of these days.

    My favorite tea is green roasted tea.


  14. Coffee is usually available at afternoon tea if you prefer it, so don’t let the fact that you’re the only tea drinker put you off.

  15. I haven’t done an afternoon tea, but it looks very cool. I thought about doing one at a Disney world hotel.

  16. Why didn’t this transfer to America? It’s a lovely tradition.

  17. That’s what happens when you leave the Commonwealth – you miss out on a few traditions ;-)

    Have you watched any of the Jubilee celebrations? I can’t believe how long the 86 year old Queen has stood watching the celebrations, out in the cold!

  18. Wow, afternoon tea was invited? Cool. I think I’ll have a cup now.

  19. Afternoon Tea is a delight and an experience which should be on everyone’s bucket list. I have created an online guide to the history, etiquette, the difference between afternoon and high tea. If can alwasys have your own tea party and I have a list of a number of recipes you can make yourself for your own tea party. Enjoy!

  20. Thanks for sharing the link to your site. I agree that afternoon tea should be on everyone’s bucket list.

  21. I love tea and this is a great post. I learned so much. Thank you for sharing.

    The Food Temptress

  22. Thanks for stopping by, Rekaya. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  23. The only proper high tea I’ve had was in Hong Kong, at a high end hotel. It was lovely and way too expensive!! When I lived briefly in Sydney in the late 80s, I had tea quite regularly at various little places around the city, but it was really just scones and cream and jam (and tea). Very yummy, though.

    I am actually planning a tea as a luncheon for my workplace as we celebrate the London Olympics in August. So your link to the Picadilly will come in handy, and I’ve been pinning all kinds of tea ideas to a special board on Pinterest…

    Thanks for your lovely list!

  24. I think that’s a fun idea for a workplace celebration. Afternoon tea is usally expensive in hotels, but it’s always an experience!

  25. Can honestly say that I have never acquired the taste for tea. I’m more a hot cocoa/lemonade gal, depending on weather.

  26. Oh gosh, tea. Yum. I love it. Cups of as well as all the scones-cakes-sandwiches thing. I find it an astonishing commentary on the aristocracy that Lord Sandwich was immortalized by putting a bit of meat between two pieces of bread, something I’m sure his farmworker tenants had done for generations.

  27. They’re a great combination – tea and cakes.
    Good point – he stole the idea :)