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A cup of tea is a simple pleasure that you can enjoy any time of day. But there’s something special about afternoon tea, a tradition that dates back to the Victorian era. Join me as we explore the origins of this charming custom and discover why it remains so popular today.

The origins of Afternoon Tea

While the origins are a little murky, the most likely story is that it was introduced in the early 1800s by Anna, the Duchess of Bedford. At the time, it was customary for people to eat a light breakfast, followed by a large dinner around midday or early afternoon. The Duchess found herself feeling hungry later in the day, so she began ordering light snacks of bread, butter and biscuits to be brought to her room. She would invite friends to join her, and the tradition of afternoon tea was created!

Although the idea was born out of necessity, it quickly became a cherished ritual. In Victorian England, tea parties were often used as an opportunity for young ladies to display their etiquette and social skills. 

While initially only enjoyed by the wealthy elite, afternoon tea eventually became more accessible to the masses as tea rooms began popping up all over England. These tea rooms were often decorated in an opulent style and became popular social destinations for women.

As the popularity of afternoon tea grew, so did the food options. Today, you can find all sorts of delightful offerings, from savoury dishes to sweet treats. So next time you feel peckish in the afternoon, don’t forget to try out this time-honoured tradition!

How Afternoon Tea has changed

Afternoon tea has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the 1800s. Today, people from all walks of life enjoy partaking and consider it a quintessentially British pastime. Whether you’re enjoying a simple cup of tea and a slice of cake in the garden or indulging in a luxury champagne afternoon tea at a fancy hotel, this centuries-old practice is sure to delight. And while the food served at tea parties has evolved over the years, one thing remains the same: it’s the perfect excuse to relax, catch up with friends and family, and enjoy some tasty food and drink.

What to serve for Afternoon Tea

If you’re planning on hosting your own tea party, you might be wondering what to serve. While there are many tempting options out there, here are a few favourites.


Whether you prefer them plain, fruity or savoury, scones are a must-have at any afternoon tea party. Serve them warm with butter, jam and clotted cream for an authentic taste of Britain.


Finger sandwiches are a classic tea party staple. Fill them with your favourite fillings, such as cucumber, smoked salmon or egg mayonnaise.

Cakes and pastries

No tea party would be complete without some delectable cakes and pastries. From Victoria sponge and lemon drizzle cakes to macarons and éclairs, there are endless options to choose from.


Include some fruit on your menu for a refreshing and healthy option. Slices of fresh melon, grapes and berries are always a hit.


If you’re looking for something a bit different, why not include some cheese on your spread? Serve a selection of your favourite cheeses with crackers and chutney for a savoury twist.


And let’s not forget the most crucial element of all: tea! Whether you prefer Earl Grey, Darjeeling or something fruity like Hibiscus, make sure to have a pot (or two) on hand to enjoy with your nibbles.

Places to Visit for Afternoon Tea

If you’re looking for the perfect place to enjoy afternoon tea, there are plenty of great options out there. But how do you choose the right one? SquareMeal is my go-to website for finding afternoon tea spots throughout the UK. They have an extensive list of restaurant options, complete with reviews, so you can be sure to find the perfect place for your taste and budget. Some of my top picks for future visits include:

The Pump Room – Bath

The Pump Room is one of the UK’s most iconic afternoon tea spots. Located in the historic Roman city of Bath, this beautiful World Heritage Site looks like the perfect place to enjoy a cup of tea and some delicious food. The Pump Room has been serving tea since 1706, and it’s said that Jane Austen was a regular visitor. Definitely somewhere I’ll be adding to my list!

Chatsworth House – Derbyshire

Chatsworth House is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Peak District, and it’s easy to see why. Its stunning grounds and beautiful architecture make for a superb tea party setting. While perusing SquareMeal, I discovered they offer an adorable children’s afternoon tea which sounds ideal for my little ones.

Metrodeco – Brighton

Pegged as an “art deco haven”, Metrodeco in Brighton looks like the perfect spot for an afternoon tea with a twist. With its beautiful decor and tantalising menu, it sounds like the ideal place to relax and enjoy some good company. Next time I’m in Brighton, I’ll definitely be giving Metrodeco a try!

The Ritz – London

Possibly the most well-known afternoon tea venue in the world, The Ritz in London is synonymous with luxury. This world-famous hotel is known for its lavish surroundings and scrumptious food, making it the perfect place to indulge in a spot of afternoon tea. And if you’re feeling extra fancy, there’s the option to add a glass of champagne to your order!

Warner Bros Studio – Watford

As a self-confessed Harry Potter fan, I was thrilled to discover that Warner Bros Studio offers an afternoon tea experience! This unique afternoon tea is served in the Great Hall, making it the perfect place to enjoy some Harry Potter-themed treats. I’m not sure I could think of anything more magical!

So there you have it: everything you need to know about afternoon tea. I hope this has inspired you to give it a try! Whether you’re looking for somewhere luxurious, quirky or family-friendly, there’s definitely an option out there for you. 

Don’t forget to get in touch and let me know where your favourite afternoon tea spot is! I’m always on the lookout for new places to try. Happy eating!