With the hearts of the nation completely captured by our favourite afternoon tradition, we thought it fitting to impart our savoir faire on getting the most out of your next sitting. Read on and prepare for the upcoming National Afternoon Tea week as we give food for thought, with Eclectic afternoon tea essentials, to ensure your etiquette is on point.
Dress to impress
For many, afternoon tea is the perfect excuse to celebrate a special occasion, or simply an afternoon of freedom. As with any dining experience, be sure to dress for the occasion! While the experience is a relaxed affair nowadays, you are still expected to look smart. Gents should avoid shorts or trainers (depending on the establishment!) Ladies, it’s an excuse to don your finest day to evening outfit – afternoon tea is no exception for casual attire!
Time for tea
The perfect partner to any afternoon delicacy, is a nice hot brew. Your server should be able to recommend a blend to complement your palate, and selected menu. Once the pot is down, it’s customary to select a body to ‘play mother’ – who essentially adopts the role of tea pourer. They should serve themselves first and make their way around the table to fill all cups. Stirring, sugar and milk are all down to the individual.
Two things to remember to avoid tea faux pas: when stirring, the spoon is to be directed in a back and forth motion as opposed to stirring in circles. Think elegance and grace. Afternoon tea lounges are no place for bashing fine china! Lastly, and irrespective of preference, milk should be added last. It is firmly believed that doing so assists with being able to gauge your ideal tea strength. Also, traditionally this will have symbolised more about your social status than you’d expect. You have been warned!
We’ve all been there, when the stand is placed on the table with a stunning formation of cakes, sandwiches, scones and colourful garnishes worthy of an insta pic. You panic reach and grab the most appealing item to scoff first. Well, resist those urges and keep up with tradition – sumptuous savoury officially commences the dining rituals. Napkins and plates are there to be utilised but remember to take it easy on the silverware - finger sandwiches (as the name suggests) are to be eaten with fingers, not cutlery!
Scone are the days
Lastly, and the pinnacle of any Afternoon Tea experience, is the scone. Worthy of its own rules and traditions. The first thing to be observed is the temperature, that light fluffy delight should be served warm, perfect to be broken. That’s right, broken, not sliced. Use your knife to break the cake apart, but don’t cut as you would a loaf. Then, apply jam first, and spread butter or cream on top. Finally, enjoy your cake for longer, and eat each half separately – a scone is not to be sandwiched back together!
Oh, and it’s pronounced sc-ON not, sc-OHne. We are in the North, after all.
Team Eclectic x
Join us for a Great John Street Rooftop Afternoon G&TEA party - THREE DATES to choose from at Great John Street hotel, book here