Afternoon tea is a meal made up of finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, pastries, and cakes. It was originally created as a private social event for ladies of high society. When Queen Victoria jumped on board, it became a formal occasion for many more people in England.
Afternoon tea, or tea receptions, went from a select few guests to as many as two hundred guests and usually took place between 4pm and 7pm. Guests were allowed to come and go as they please.
Today, afternoon tea is normally enjoyed as an occasional pastime or special indulgence. Lots of brides-to-be, or mothers-to-be take part in afternoon tea to celebrate their news. It’s also very big with tourists.
Below are ten blends of tea that pair best with afternoon tea.
White tea is a naturally sweet brew, whose name is derived from the white hairs of unopened buds of the tea plants. When it comes to afternoon tea, don’t pair this with anything too strong. A nice cup of white tea goes well with scones and sponge cakes.
Exclusively produced in the Fujian province of China, white tea leaves are harvested and immediately dried outdoors in natural sunlight. It can be taken to the next level with some honey or a slice of lemon to your white tea.
Lavender is popular, full-stop. Largely used in fragrances across the world, its aromatic properties make it an enormously enjoyable tea. It’s common in afternoon tea, both in the drink and the flavouring of scones and other baked goods. It can come in different variations with include a combo of chamomile and mint.
Lavender is made from the buds of the Lavandula angustifolia plant native to the Mediterranean. Its flavour has hints of rosemary and mint, with occasional earthy notes. Lavender works just as well in the afternoon as it does in the evening.
Though not a “true tea” as it doesn’t come from the camellia sinensis plant, chamomile is a fan favourite, and something you should definitely consider in a formal setting. This silky and delicate tea has become popular in afternoon tea thanks to its appley flavour, which pairs great with scones and fruity sweets.
Chamomile comes from the Ancient Greek words kamai (earth) and melon (apple) and has long been a beloved herbal tea. If you’re prone to a spot of afternoon tea but find yourself struggling with bitter teas, this will serve as the perfect antidote.
Grown in Southeast Asia, oolong tea boasts a complex flavour that compliments many afternoon tea treats. The darker oolong has a smooth flavour and aroma that pairs better with stronger foods such as a salami finger sandwich or smoked ham.
The least oxidised oolong teas are called pouchongs. One of the most oxidised oolong teas is known as Da Hong Pao and boasts a malty flavour. Though it’s good to bear to mind that the flavour profiles of oolong teas can vary depending on the sunlight, soil compositions, and rainfall.
Darjeeling black tea, from Darjeeling, India, has a flavour that varies depending on the season it’s harvested. Spring Darjeeling has a leafier flavour, while summer Darjeeling has a more fruity flavour. Either pair well with savoury afternoon tea snacks like fruit desserts and pastries.
It’s important to keep the Darjeeling tucked away until you’ve eaten as it can irritate an empty stomach and will not aid in digestion. If taken after a meal it can boost your metabolism and help burn more calories.
Peppermint tea is the most common mint tea in the United States and is 99.9% of the time caffeine free, so if you’re trying to integrate yourself into an afternoon tea session without getting jitters, this is the tea for you. Peppermint mint tea pairs incredibly with chocolate, fruity sweets, and finger sandwiches!
One of the big benefits of peppermint tea is how it eases stomach pain. Peppermint leaves contain compound essential oils like menthol, menthone, and limonene which can help treat upset stomachs and aids digestion.
Ceylon tea, native to Sri Lanka, is a vegetal brew with sweet tones. Packed with antioxidants, it’s a very simple and pure tea to enjoy on an afternoon with friends. As for pairing with food, you’d be a fool not to combine a cup of Ceylon with a savoury sandwich or piece of chocolate.
Ceylon, like some other teas, can vary in taste depending on what altitude its grown at. Some of these reas include Nuwara Eliya, Dimbula, Uva, Kandy, Ruhuna, Uda Pussellawa, and Sabaragamuwa. In colour, Ceylon is either black or green.
Don’t be tricked by the name, green teas are produced from the same leaves as black tea leaves. The difference is that green tea leaves are immediately heated to prevent oxidation, giving them a distinct yellowish colour when brewed in boiling water. Pair it with fruit at an afternoon tea.
With its vegetal flavour, a loose-leaf green tea will not only bring you comfort but have positive effects on your health. Studies have shown green tea to improve weight loss, skin health, and glycemic control.