How to host a joy-filled afternoon tea experience

It’s always delightful to experience afternoon tea in all its splendour. Spending time with your loved ones while a waiter ensures you have a luxurious experience is always amazing.

However, while the formalities of taking tea at the Ritz is always splendid, I always prefer to take a much more relaxed approach when throwing a party at my home. To me, afternoon tea should be relaxed, fun and friendly rather than caught up on decorum. That being said, knowing the etiquette can help you create a classy affair that will truly impress your guests.

From the menu to the pouring, I’ve put together some of my best tips so that you can host afternoon tea in a way that suits you, whether that’s with all the formality of the Ritz or just a catch-up with some old friends. Either way, it’s bound to be an afternoon filled with joy.

Master your menu

Afternoon tea is much more than a cup of tea and a chance to chat, it’s an opportunity to truly indulge yourself and your guests. So, every occasion should have light cakes, scones and sandwiches on offer. The filling is completely up to you, but traditional choices include cucumber, smoked salmon, coronation chicken and egg mayonnaise.

As always, the little touches are the most important, so all your sandwiches should be served with the crusts cut off. This was popularised back in the 19th Century when Anne Maria Russell, the 7th Duchess of Bedford and originator of afternoon tea, was quite insistent about this. As the first snack to be served, the sandwiches should be enjoyed as true finger food, so strictly no cutlery allowed.

Limoges porcelain cake stand with scones

Scone but not forgotten

As scones make up the second course, there’s plenty of etiquette involved in the presentation and how they should be eaten. First of all, they should be always be served warm, this makes it easier to break it in half, especially as you’re doing it by hand. Next, you can spread your jam and cream over the halves and with each slice eaten separately, there’s no need to argue about which bit goes first.

The sweet treats should continue long after the scones have finished, and a selection of cakes and sweets will round off the afternoon delights. If you need cake inspiration, then I recommend my English Rose Cake, it’s delicious and sure to be a hit with all your guests.

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When it comes to the presentation of this final course, I love the Limoges Porcelain collection including my beautiful selection of peacock cake stands available in amethyst, turquoise and emerald.

Pour like a professional

If you’re hosting, then you should be in charge of pouring the tea for all your guests. There aren’t many things more British than a good cup of tea, so of course there are rules to ensure the pour is done properly. Afternoon tea etiquette tells us that if any of your guests require sugar, then this should be added to the cup first. Next, we add the milk before the water as it creates a better mixture resulting in the best cup of tea.

Finally, there’s one big mistake to avoid whether you’re a host or guest and that’s dipping your biscuit. However, I always say rules are meant to be broken and biscuits are made to be dunked, so whether you choose to follow this rule is up to you.

If you’re entertaining guests, you’re going to want to bring out a gorgeous teapot, worthy of being the centrepiece to your afternoon tea. We have a range of unique teapots including the signature peacock and blossom designs, as well as an amazing range from Saint Hubert that will leave you looking for any excuse to get a cup of tea. To complement this, I suggest my selection of teacups with intricate designs that will leave your guests admiring their beauty.



There’s one topic I’ve purposely left until last, and that’s alcohol. It’s only natural to want to get the drinks flowing when you’ve got everyone together for a lovely occasion such as afternoon tea. So, I’m delighted to tell you that it is perfectly acceptable to pop the cork and get the champagne flowing, thank goodness!

While the traditional British etiquette will help you create an afternoon tea experience filled with extravagance and splendour, I firmly believe that rules were made to be broken. The best part about hosting is that you get to leave your signature touch on every aspect, from the layout of the table to the sweet treats on offer.

Whether you choose to follow etiquette or completely forgo it, the main thing is that everyone is happy. With wonderful friends, delicious homemade cakes and refreshing drinks, you can easily create your own joyful afternoon tea experience.