Afternoon Tea Fit for a Duchess

Some traditional and modern High Tea ideas.

One day in Victorian-era England, the Duchess of Bedford simply could not stand the wait between lunch and dinner, so she ordered a tray of tea and pastries, invited some friends, and the tradition of afternoon tea was born, or at least that’s how the story goes.

These days afternoon tea is often called high tea and you will find it everywhere from big city hotels to smaller tea rooms. Or you could gather friends and family and have an afternoon tea to remember at home. Here are some traditional and not-so-traditional menu ideas:

Sweet Warm Scones with jam and cream are a must. Lemon Curd Tarts bring some tang to the affair, while Melting Moments Biscuits provide perfect finger food. Small bites do make serving easy, but a showstopper like Gary’s Black Forest Cake creates a stunning and delicious table centrepiece.

Savoury Sandwiches are afternoon tea staples, but you could up the ante with Movida chef Frank Camorra’s Cornets with Chicken Liver Pate which are cute mini-cones filled with creamy pate and drizzled with Pedro Ximinez syrup. Other savoury options include Neil Perry’s Caramelised Leek, Goats Cheese and Sage Tart with Baby Leaf Salad and Gary’s Ocean Trout on Rosti.

Drinks Ditch the tea bags and brew good quality loose-leaf tea. For a more spirited afternoon, you could serve sparkling wine, or better yet, a Pimm’s Original – combine 50ml of Pimm’s, 150ml of lemonade, a few strawberries, an orange slice, some mint leaves, and a couple of cucumber sticks in a highball glass with plenty of ice. Better yet, multiply the quantities and make a jug, so there’s plenty for everyone.