20 Recipes That Are Perfect for an Elegant Afternoon Tea Party
A previously elegant social event that is now a gathering for all, the tradition of serving afternoon tea dates back to the 1840s in Britain. While it's hard to pinpoint exactly when, or why, the tradition of afternoon tea started, many reports link it to Anna, the Duchess of Bedford. The Duchess was said to have had mid-afternoon hunger pains and wanted to fill the long period of time between lunch and dinner with small bites such as finger sandwiches and sweets, as well as tea. Within a few decades, the event became a parade of pageantry, where hosts could show off their impressive collection of china, fine linens, and exquisite taste in the form of pricy teas and dainty fare.
You don't need to be a duchess to take afternoon tea. Grand hotels offer it, so do some restaurants and cafés, but we think this grand tradition is best enjoyed in the comfort of your own home. In addition to serving a selection of teas, a variety of small foods, both savory and sweet, are essential. Our recipes will give you a sense of what to serve at your next afternoon tea.
Considering the British history of this event, scones are must. Rhubarb-Buckwheat Scones and Herb-Cheddar Scones offer something for everyone. And what's afternoon tea without cucumber sandwiches (the two are practically synonymous)? An open-faced Scandinavian Shrimp-and-Cucumber Sandwich has a gorgeous mix of bright colors and Vegan Cucumber Tea Sandwiches won't make the dairy-averse feel left out.
Care for something sweet? Rose Raspberry Macarons, while technically French, are a delight to eat. Other special occasion sweets include Polka-Dot Petit Fours, Orange Madeleines, and Mini Chocolate Cakes with Dark-Chocolate Ganache. Set a couple of hours aside in the afternoon to enjoy tasteful blends of tea and treats (oh, and keep those pinkies down—it's an antiquated habit!).