The British Ritual of Tea / Afternoon Tea: Etiquette

The British Ritual of Tea / Afternoon Tea: Etiquette
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July has mostly been spent concentrating on fashion accessories of the 1950’s, approaching August I thought it would be fun to put my efforts in to my vintage cake stands and my all-time favourite hobby of eating cake!

I, along with most Brits, put so much faith in to believing a lot can be solved by a cup of tea, after all we drink more than 165 million cups of it each year.  Who hasn’t had a cup of tea that is soothing or sits down to enjoy tea and cake?

There are some traditions which many of us still follow today when making and drinking tea, particularly in the afternoon.

It was around the 19th Century that drinking tea in the afternoon became very fashionable.  Even today, there are a number of tea shops opening up offering afternoon tea but you don’t have to go out to enjoy the experience.  Below I have listed some of the essentials…

What you need

To make it traditional I recommend leaf tea, a tea strainer, milk jug and sugar basin, vintage tea cup and saucer, teaspoon, vintage cake stand, sandwiches, cakes and scones and a linen tablecloth.  For some beautiful cake stands and vintage tea cups visit my Etsy Store.


Royal Albert Tea set

vintage cake stand

How to Serve

If you have invited friends round, as host it is your job to pour the tea in to each cup, do one at a time and hand to your guest one at a time rather than doing a ‘batch’.  The milk and sugar can then be passed round so everyone has the opportunity to add their own.  There is much debate about milk before or after, it really is personal taste.  The reason milk was often added before was due to the delicate nature of the china cup, by adding the cold milk first it protected it from cracking.



If you are opting to add sandwiches cut these in to small squares or rectangles with the crusts removed.  It is also traditional to have a selection of cakes but these should be small, of course you can add some cupcakes (although these are not traditional but they are cakes nonetheless!). Scones are another addition to the traditional afternoon tea and adding jam and cream brings them to the next level.

What to wear

I hear you all asking what on earth has clothing got to do with afternoon tea?  Well, for me it is an excuse to dress up, if you are going to all this trouble with afternoon tea why not dress up for the occasion?

Whatever way you decide to do, overall have fun and enjoy.



  1. Amy
    June 22, 2017 / 7:28 pm

    Yes it just has to be vintage tea cups or it doesn’t count! I just love afternoon tea, the ultimate treat. Lovely post, and from cake lover to another ‘hello’ 🙂

    • admin
      June 23, 2017 / 10:31 am

      Summer just needs vintage tea cups and of course cake! Wouldn’t be the same without cake Amy 🙂

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