How To Host The World’s Best Afternoon Tea

Author: Nikki Barnett   Date Posted:20 July 2020 

The divine tradition of high tea at home


Afternoon tea is a wonderful tradition enjoyed by so many people the world over. For some, it means a luxurious day out in an elegant hotel, but here at The Hamper Emporium, it means a mouth-watering get together with friends.


It’s the perfect idea for a birthday, hen party, baby shower or simply just catching up with friends. Organising your own afternoon tea party means you are in control of the cost and can choose all your favourite cakes, sweets and finger food.


So, why not treat your friends to an afternoon of panache and sophistication? We've compiled all our tea party ideas and advice for hosting a high tea party, from setting the scene down to some fun etiquette!


Location is the key to everything


Whether you're planning a friendly gathering or an intimate ‘tea for two’, the most important task is deciding on the ideal venue. You will need lots of table space for setting out the delicious range of tempting food and fluffy scones. Also, think about small tables so guests can mingle and have space to put their gorgeous teacups down safely!


An afternoon tea party doesn't have to be inside if the weather is good, so why not take it outside? A pretty terrace, balcony or garden is the perfect setting for a picnic-style afternoon tea with a twist. Picnics are always popular, and you can make it as luxurious as you want. There’s nothing nicer than drinking from fine bone china in a relaxed atmosphere with the sun shining down.


Setting the afternoon tea party scene


Fine china is an absolute must-have, but don’t worry about it coordinating. Using a mix of beautiful plates and teacups is a really colourful way to set the scene - just make sure you have enough. A nice idea is to ask your friends to each bring their personal favourite to the event. It’s a fun way to involve everyone, and they might even wash their own pots!


Dress your tables with a variety of bright, chintzy floral tablecloths to set the party mood. Then add some colourful bunting, candles and interesting finishing touches. You could make name-places, or even bake cookies and ice them with your friend’s initials. Design some cute takeaway bags, so they each have a small gift to remember the day with.


Making the perfect cup of tea


Whether you choose tea bags or the finest grades of loose tea, planning how to host a high tea is a special occasion. Make sure you use lovely teapots in the traditional way by warming them first. Then add the tea and boiling water to the pots and let the tea steep for at least 5 minutes. Remember, it’s the main attraction!


You will want to offer a full range to satisfy the cravings of your tea-loving friends. Like wine, the different varieties pair well with different foods. You could even host some fun tea tasting. Darjeeling is wonderful with sweet scones and cakes, and Earl Grey is perfect with savoury flavours. Add in some choices of camomile, herbal, fruit and breakfast tea and you are all set to go.


The etiquette of hosting a high tea


If you want guests to have a crème de la crème experience, here are some of the traditional rules of etiquette for a perfect afternoon.


  • Always greet other guests formally

  • When it’s time for afternoon tea, place your unfolded napkin on your lap

  • Sugar or lemon slices must always be put into your cup first

  • Milk is always added to your cup last

  • When you stir your tea, the spoon must not touch the sides and should then be placed on the saucer

  • Your cup should be held delicately and never grasped with both hands

  • Food should be eaten in the correct order which starts with sandwiches, then scones and lastly cakes and sweets

  • The traditional way to eat scones is to cut them in half, cover them with jam and then add a layer of cream


High tea menu ideas for connoisseurs


What is served at high tea? Well, the best fun about hosting a high tea party is deciding on the food, whether you decide to pair it with different teas, or not. Prepare as much as you can in advance and don't stress yourself by doing anything too ambitious. You don’t need to serve huge portions, as guests will enjoy trying a little bit of everything.


A menu for high tea parties at home doesn’t come with a rule book, so you can be as adventurous as you like. Hosting a high tea is all about the fun. Generally, it should include tiers of light sandwiches, like cucumber, egg mayonnaise or smoked salmon. If you follow the correct etiquette, these should always have the crusts cut off.


Then add in selections of your favourite cakes, along with warm scones, jam and cream. If you want to spice up your high tea menu plan a little, then you could also offer buttered tea cakes, pastries, biscuits and petits fours.


It’s always time for a tea party!


Any celebration is a great excuse for high tea at home ideas, laughter, and an overdue get-together with loved ones. If you can’t decide what to serve for afternoon tea or you simply have no time to cook, then it’s easy to order pre-prepared food and take all the credit. Hampers are also the perfect solution, especially if it’s a romantic party for two.


What could be nicer than sharing a delicious gourmet food and wine hamper with that special person? They are packed to the brim with flavour and taste sensations, nibbles and luxuries. Then, as the tea party host, you only need to make sandwiches and tea.


Whatever event you host your next high tea party for, enjoy a cup for us!


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