“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”
Love Afternoon Tea? PIN IT FOR LATER!!
History of Afternoon tea
While drinking tea has been around since at least the 3 BC, the concept of ‘afternoon tea’ was first introduced in England by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, in the year 1840. By four o’clock in the afternoon, the Duchess would become quite hungry with dinner not being served in her household until the fashionably late hour of eight o’clock. At the time, it was quite usual for people to only have two main meals a day, breakfast and dinner. Unable to cope with the hunger, she asked that a tea along with a few slices of bread and butter to be brought to her boudoir in the late afternoon to take in private. Later, the Earl of Sandwich came up with the brilliant idea of adding a filling between the slices of bread as well as sweetening up her snack with cake.
Over time, she began to invite her friends to join her and by the 1880’s became quite a fashionable social event for upper-class women and afternoon tea was acceptable enough to move it from one’s private quarters to the drawing room. High society women wore their finest gowns, gloves and hats for tea in the drawing room, typically between four and five o’clock in the evening.
Today, traditional afternoon tea is served in fancy gardens, hotels and tea rooms which consists of a variety of dainty sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, as well as cakes and biscuits served on a tiered tray. The proper way to enjoy the snacks that accompany an afternoon tea it to work your way up from the bottom tier, starting with your sandwiches and savories, before moving to the second tier with scones and clotted cream before finally ending with the sweet bits, cakes and biscuits. Tea is always served from a tea pot into delicate and dainty china cups while you will also find that some afternoon teas include a glass of bubbly to be enjoyed with the desserts.
Some of the most famous places in England to experience an afternoon tea are in London’s finest hotels and quaint tearooms such as Claridges, the Dorchester, the Ritz and the Savoy, Harrods as well as Fortnum and Mason, but you don’t have to do a high class afternoon tea when any cafe, tea room or tea house will offer a full scale afternoon tea for half the price without the name and just may even be better!
What’s the difference between ‘high tea’ and ‘afternoon tea’?
Not being British, I, too didn’t understand the difference. Many hotels offer ‘high tea’ which derives from the height of the tables on which the meals are served, therefore, high tea being served at the dinner table. Traditionally, ‘low’ or ‘afternoon’ tea was served around four o’clock for the upper class just before the fashionable promenade at Hyde Park. Middle and lower class would have their ‘high’ tea in place of dinner around five or six o’clock in the evening.
Come, let’s have some tea and continue to talk about happy things!
High Tea at Fortnum and Mason’s Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon – London England
By Lady Lorelei from California Globetrotter
When it comes to afternoon tea in London, Fortnum and Mason is classified as a British institution known for catering to the Queen of England and epitomizing the sophistication of a traditional afternoon tea! Located near Piccadilly Square, with over 100 different blends of tea with the Royal Blend made for King Edward VII being among the top ranking since 1902!
Located on the fourth floor, High tea is served in the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon opened by Her Majesty the Queen in 2012. Tables are spaciously spread out, servers are exquisitely dressed and well-educated about the variety of blends and ready to teach newbies like myself.
The Afternoon Tea Menu includes your choice of tea, which I chose the Countess Grey with a hint of orange flavor as well as classic finger sandwiches such as cucumber, smoked salmon and coronation chicken, followed by their famously delicious scones to be eaten with delicious lemon curd or strawberry jam and clotted cream. The afternoon tea is topped off with a plate of decadent patisseries and a choice of cakes from the cake carriage! And the best part? It’s all replenishable and served on their iconic turquoise and gold china set!
After our delightful afternoon tea, we perused the lower three floors of shops, stocking up on my now favorite tea!
In England, everything stops for tea!
St. James Tearoom – Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
By Lady Jessica from Independent Travel Cats
“With a cup of tea in your hand, anything is possible”
Fairmont Royal York Hotel Afternoon Tea – Toronto, Canada
By Lady Lorita from Ting and Things
What’s a better way to experience a royal treatment than having high tea at Toronto’s iconic Fairmont Royal York Hotel? I had an amazing opportunity to try out their afternoon tea service in the Library Bar at Royal York with my friend. The whole tea experience lasted approximately 2 hours long.
Tea was served on fine china along with a 3-tiered platter of hand-crafted sandwiches and fine pastries. I started off by choosing a pot of tea from their loose leaf tea selections. I normally don’t drink tea but I can’t really say I’ve enjoyed afternoon tea if I hadn’t actually tried their tea right? My tea was fragrant combining flavours of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.
Our first bite was the English crumpet with fresh berries topped with honey that came from the beehives from their own rooftop apiary! Second to our table was a plate of hand-crafted sandwiches. Various tomatoes with Mozzarella on baguette, roasted turkey with cucumber & apple cider mayo sandwich, Pears, goat cheese, balsamic berry with greens on baguette, smoked salmon with onions sandwich. Their freshly baked scones with Devonshire cream were delicious. Oh so soft and moist! We ate our way to the middle tier of the platter which consisted of Lemon Almond slices, mincemeat tart, honey white chocolate Madeline’s, flour-less cranberry chocolate cake. My friend called the chocolate cake, “the cake of excellence with a dash of awesomeness”. And there was a reason for it. The cake melted entirely in our mouths! My favourite though, was the lemon almond slices. The slices looked ordinary but they were fresh and “citrusy”. The tiny bits added a crunchy texture to the dessert. I devoured this in a second.
Following the afternoon tea service, we also got a complimentary tour of the hotel. This should be on everyone’s list if you enjoy a fine afternoon tea. You won’t be disappointed!
“A cup of tea is an excuse to share great thoughts with great minds” – Christina Re
La Motte High Tea – Cape Town, South Africa
By Lady Alya from Stingy Nomads
Afternoon tea in Cape Town was our first tea experience. Usually we don’t do fancy dining while traveling but in our own city we decided to go big and explore more fine places. After doing a research about best place in and around Cape Town for the afternoon tea we made our choice in favour of La Motte, a wine farm and restaurant in Franschhoek, a beautiful small town, 80 km from Cape Town. Franschhoek is famous for its fine wines and best restaurants in South Africa.
The high tea experience at La Motte is something very special, as it will be done for you exclusively. You can choose where the tea is served; in a restaurant, on a terrace or in the garden, it’s a great option on a warm sunny day.
For visitor’s choice are several teas; red, green, black, fruit or white teas. Avid coffee drinkers can get a cup of good Java blend coffee. Tea is served in porcelain sets made by a local fine artist and ceramicists especially for Le Motte high tea.
The food menu is exquisite with everything freshly made and baked in a restaurant kitchen. Treat yourself with smoked salmon sandwiches with cream cheese, savoury tart, chocolate truffles, crispy croissants with fillings or not, tea cakes, sausage rolls, macarons, sweet biscuits, cheese cakes and more. Guests can sparkle their tea experience with a glass of sweet or sparkling wine from the estate.
“I would rather have nothing but tea!” – Jane Austen
Afternoon tea at the Ritz-Carlton – Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia
By Lady Keri from Ladies What Travel
The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur is a great spot for afternoon tea in the city thanks to its elegant setting of the light and airy Lobby Lounge. Once seated we perused the tea menu, which is made up of 40 different black, green fruit and herbal infusion teas – including the Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur Blend, exclusively crafted for the hotel.
When our three-tiered tea tray came out we weren’t disappointed – savoury highlights included the warm mini chicken pie and petite chicken and beef burgers. These were a delicious quirky take on the traditional afternoon tea.
Perfectly timed to coincide with us finishing the last of the savouries, our server returned with a plate of freshly baked plain and fruit scones. These went down a treat, and we sat back to enjoy some more tea before moving onto the sweet finale.
This top tier had an interesting mix of sweets, including a nod to local sweet treat, the Chinese egg tart. This was joined by an orange and chocolate meringue, a gooey marshmallow with a coconut base, a strawberry and cream tart topped with pistachios and a very rich dark chocolate cake.
I enjoyed everything about my afternoon tea experience at the Ritz-Carlton – from the food and service through to the string quartet that entertained us. Little touches like unexpected amuse-bouche and cute teapot warmers made the whole experience even more special – and one I’d recommend to any visitors to Kuala Lumpur.
“Life is like a cup of tea to be filled to the brim and enjoyed with friends”
Chesterfield Mayfair’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea – London, England
By Lady Ashley from My Wanderlusty Life
When it came to choosing an afternoon tea experience in London, the land of afternoon teas, they had me at “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” As one of most unusual afternoon teas in London, the Wonka-themed afternoon tea at the Chesterfield Mayfair is every nerd’s dream and, just like a tour through Wonka’s chocolate factory, is so much more than you bargained for. You get the standard afternoon tea service—tea, tiny sandwiches and finger foods, in a fancy setting—but all dripping with theme-y goodness.
Your experience begins with a serving of fizzy lifting drink and, fancy digs or not, I recommend following that up with a good burp, Charlie Bucket-style. In addition to the slew of teas you can choose from, they also offer their very own, specially blended for the occasion, chocolate tea. It may sound strange, but it’s pretty scrumdiddlyumptious. The fresh-made scones (+ homemade snozzberry jam) and finger sandwiches are some of the best I’ve ever had and, thankfully, unlimited. But the real geek pleasure lies in the plate of Wonka-themed deserts: an Oompa Loompa cupcake, a white chocolate golden egg, fizzy lifting lemon cake, a fruit tart, a bubblegum éclair, a blueberry macaron, and of course, a Wonka Bar.
But the themematics don’t end there. Willy Wonka himself (pretty much) greets all the tables and passes out Everlasting Gobstoppers and golden tickets—surprises to be awarded on your return visit that include everything from free bottles of champagne to complimentary afternoon teas and hotel stays.
“If asked, “How do you take your tea?” I reply, “Seriously, very seriously”.
Baccus’ High Tea – Brisbane, Australia
There is always time for tea and cake!
A.C. Perch’s Thehandel Afternoon Tea – Copenhagen, Denmark
By Lady Carolyn from Carolyn’s Absolutely Fabulous Events
The tearooms at A.C. Perch’s Thehandel can be found in Kronprincessgade, or Crown Princess Street, in the heart of Copenhagen’s historic city center. There has been a Perch’s tearoom in Copenhagen for over 182 years and the company has dedicated 7 generations to finding top quality teas from all over the world. They are also a purveyor of teas to Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. With such an illustrious history A.C.Perch’s Thehandel is THE place to take afternoon tea in Copenhagen.
The English style tea rooms are charming and are a perfect place to experience Danish hygge, that cozy, snuggy feeling. The rooms themselves are on the first floor and are accessed through a small courtyard. Although not required it is best to book as the tables fill up fast. The atmosphere is relaxed but not casual. People choose Perch’s for special occasions and there is always a festive air.
A.C. Perch’s offer a spectacular range of teas, over 150 different kinds, which can be purchased afterwards from their old fashioned tea shop downstairs. The menu includes several cakes, scones and tea sandwiches. You can order treats individually or go for the full monty, Perch’s Classic Tea Stand, which comes with a glass of crement. Service is attentive and the staff are knowledgeable about teas if you need some advice.
Tea (n): a hug in a cup
Louis Sergeant High Tea – Wellington, New Zealand
By Lady Nicole from Travelgal Nicole
One of the best places to go for High Tea in Wellington is Louis Sergeant. This French inspired patisserie offers high tea daily for either morning or afternoon tea.
The high tea consists of 5 sweet treats and 4 savoury treats along with a pot of specialty tea or you can upgrade to champagne for a special occasion.
I love to take visitors to high tea as it is a nice treat after a day of exploring and it is also something tasty to tide you over to dinner. And with all of these specialty desserts as well its worth the splurge! It’s also a great place to celebrate a birthday and invite friends and dress up and wear hats while eating. You can also stop in for a French dessert. They have everything from eclairs and macarons to coconut cake and decadent mousses.
Where there’s tea, there’s hope!
Amstel Lounge in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
By Lady Wendy from World Wide Wendy
In case you are looking for a place to enjoy a high tea in Amsterdam, I can highly recommend The High Tea at Intercontinental Amstel Amsterdam. The hotel is 5 star superior hotel, housed in a historical building from 1867. Called the Royal Afternoon Tea, it’s served in the Amstel Lounge from where you have an amazing view over the River Amstel.
Of course, a wide selection of teas are accompanied by 4 courses, including delightful sandwiches with salmon as well as a warm course. All the sweets are homemade by the hotel’s own patisserie and the étagère with profiteroles and many other sweets are a feast for the eye.
The staff is extremely friendly and well informed. They can tell you all you need to know about the different teas.
The high tea is served daily from 12:30pm to 2:30pm and from 4:00pm till 6:00pm.
If you want to enjoy a high tea the way it’s meant to be, Intercontinental Amstel Hotel is the right choice.
“A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong she is until you put her in hot water!” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Planter’s Country Hotel in Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
Perched on a hill slope and overlooking the tropical forest, Planter’s Country Hotel went through several refurbishments but the property owner preserved and maintained the original Tudor concept with interiors complete with vintage finds, modest furniture with floral prints, a fireplace, reading and drawing rooms, and picturesque gardens, thus giving the hotel a quaint countryside charm. With ambiance of a traditional English-style inn, it’s quite aptly to have afternoon tea of scrumptious scones with homemade jam and cream in the hotel’s Rajah Brooke Tea Room.
You can’t buy happiness, but you can tea and that’s kinda the same thing!
Afternoon tea at the Park Hyatt – Sydney, Australia
By Lady Rachel from A Nesting Nomad
Life is like tea… It’s all in HOW you MAKE it!
Afternoon tea at the Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat – Nice, France
By Lady Phoebe from Lou Messugo
The Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat, a legendary palace hotel on the French Riviera, is an elegant affair. We booked for early October and were told it would be in the Rotunda designed by Gustav Eiffel (of the tower fame), but the weather was so lovely that it was served outside on the terrace overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean sea. Under 100 year old Aleppo pines we sipped on pink champagne and indulged in an array of sublime pastries and finger sandwiches, continuing a ritual made popular at the hotel by such icons as Coco Chanel and Jean Cocteau in the 1950s.
The selection of patisseries, displayed traditionally on a three tiered cake stand consisted of a layer of delicate mini fruit tarts and chocolate mousse cake, then a layer of melt-in-the-mouth petit choux (mini cream buns as light as air) and a third layer of savoury sandwiches. Every single flavour created by World Champion of Sugar Arts pastry chef, Gaëtan Fiard, was delicate, exquisite, complex and utterly divine. While the selection initially might not have seemed enormous, and there was no question of continual refills, it turned out to be the perfect amount, leaving us satiated and content without feeling over full: a very French take on a classic English afternoon tea.
As the afternoon cooled into evening, we were brought snuggly soft fleecy shawls to wrap up in, encouraging us to linger on the beautiful terrace, savouring an absolutely delightful experience.
“Would you like an adventure now, or shall we have a cup of tea first?” – Alice in Wonderland
High Tea in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
Afternoon Tea at Westbury Hotel – Dublin, Ireland
By Lady Hilary from HilaryStyle
The moment we walked into the lobby of Dublin’s Westbury Hotel, I knew we would be adding afternoon tea to our trip’s agenda. Afternoon Tea, although not a tradition in the United States, is something we’ve happily adopted during our travels, and make time for it whenever we can.
Indulging in The Westbury’s tea service was the perfect way to while-away a rainy Dublin afternoon. Tea is served in the hotel’s gorgeous lobby, where you’ll be cozy in the generously stuffed sofas and chairs, and surrounded by beautiful blooms, and shinning crystal. Your service includes a choice of teas from around the world (poured into the most adorable tea cups) as well as a variety of savory and sweet treats, including sandwiches, scones with cream and jam, and a delightful selection of patisserie. All this while overlooking the wonderful Grafton Street, one of the city’s most popular shopping areas. If it’s something a little more bubbly you’re after, consider choosing something from the Champagne trolley. Afternoon Tea is served daily between 12.30pm and 5.30pm. Call ahead for reservations.
High Tea at Kayumanis Resorts – Bali, Indonesia
By Lady Jackie from Get Lost with Jackie
When traveling to Bali one might expect lush, tropical rainforests, bright blue beaches, happy locals, temples and traditions, and all the Asian inspired eats you can imagine. What might not immediately come to mind when thinking, “Bali”, is high tea. I, too, was surprised at how many properties, both luxury and budget, have adopted this age old British tradition of afternoon and high teas and are now offering them as (typically complimentary) services to guests.
I wrapped up quite a few afternoon tea’s in Bali in my article, “Where to Have High-Tea in Bali” but there was one property offering that stood out amongst the rest. Kayumanis Resorts has four properties in Bali – in Sanur, Nusa Dua, Jimbaran and Ubud. The high-tea at Kayumanis takes the traditional high tea offerings and puts a Balinese spin on them. You can expect small sandwiches and sweet treats – as with any typical high-tea! You may also find egg-rolls in place of sandwiches or “laklak” cake (which is made with the intention to be paired with tea) in place of scones.
High-tea at Kayumanis is not only delicious but also appealing to the eye. You can pair your high-tea with iced or hot teas (I highly suggest trying the lemongrass tea which is a delicious way to hydrate and refresh in the Balinese heat) or you can opt for coffee (if you do – make sure to order a Balinese coffee!). I’m positive that no matter where which Kayumanis property you opt to have your high-tea in Bali it will be an experience to remember.
“Enjoy simple things with total intensity. Just a cup of tea can be a deep meditation” – Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh