Across the land, kettles are being boiled, cakes are being baked and napkins are being folded to commemorate a very special time of year: National Afternoon Tea Week. Time to get your teacups and saucers at the ready.
In honour of this important event in the foodie calendar, we decided to host a slap-up afternoon tea (not that we needed any excuse). Each of us brought a treat to the table – cute little sandwiches filled with cucumber, smoked salmon and cream cheese and egg and watercress; scones with cream and jam; mini cupcakes; iced biscuits inspired by a Pinterest pin; and melt-in-the-mouth strawberry, cream and meringue bites (a bit like a tidy Eton Mess – we like to call it an Eton Neat). After devouring the lot, we decided we could certainly get used to this afternoon tea lark.
If you fancy hosting one yourself, check out our Time for Tea Pinterest board for inspiration. We particularly love these cute stamped cookies and the neat presentation of this stack of goodies from Quarter Bar in London. Be sure to get some extra-special tea in for the occasion too – we’re fans of varieties from Teapigs and Pukka.
Alternatively, put your tea party in the hands of the professionals by booking a spot at one of these purveyors of afternoon tea-based loveliness.
Bettys has been serving tea since 1919, so it’s pretty safe to say they know what they are doing when it comes to creating the perfect afternoon tea party. There are six Bettys tearooms in Yorkshire – the first was set up in Harrogate by Swiss founder Frederick Belmont, with a flagship café opening in York not long afterwards.
The company is run by the same family today, and still stays true to Frederick’s original values: to be devoted to doing things beautifully, from baking scrumptious sweet treats, to offering the best in traditional hospitality. This extends to their wonderful afternoon teas too; expect dainty sandwiches, delectable handmade cakes and top-quality speciality teas, all served in splendid surroundings.
Cox & Baloney
This gorgeous boutique on Cheltenham Road in Bristol is packed with vintage goodies, from pretty dresses to floral tea sets. You could be forgiven for spending quite some time browsing the wares on offer here – and working up an appetite in the process – so a post-shop afternoon tea is a must. This comes served on adorable vintage china and features a generous selection of finger sandwiches (I can recommend the Brie and cranberry) and moreish homemade cakes and scones – and, of course, plenty of tea to wash it all down with. They even offer their own lovely loose tea blends to take home with you.
The Brasserie at Charing Cross
Regal, opulent and timeless are all words that could be used to describe this beautiful brasserie, although even they don’t do it justice; this really is a must-see venue. The Grade II listed Charing Cross Hotel is just minutes away from the West End and boasts captivating views of the city from its floor-to-ceiling windows. The restaurant features a blend of Victorian elegance and sleek, modern style, and this is reflected in its afternoon tea offering, which offers a refined take on this classic British treat. You’d be hard-pushed to find a better setting for a spot of afternoon indulgence.