Afternoon tea ideas for your next get together

Make the perfect afternoon tea for the jubilee from home with our helpful guide


by Lorna White |

We know they’re a rather naughty treat, but there’s something special about indulging in a traditional afternoon tea. From dainty finger sandwiches to scones and cakes, there’s nothing better. For your next tea party, we've got the best afternoon tea ideas to please your guests.

With it being National Afternoon Tea Week, we've put together a guide on hosting your very own afternoon tea. From which sandwiches to consider and which cakes to select, to where to buy them from if you're too busy to prepare them.

As well as preparing your own, we've also included afternoon tea experiences and afternoon tea deliveries as a little treat. After all, you'll want to enjoy it without worrying too! Without further ado, here are the best afternoon tea ideas in celebration of National Afternoon Tea Week.

Afternoon tea experiences

From champagne high tea experiences to fun afternoon tea bus tours, Virgin Experience Days have hosted some afternoon tea experiences in time for National Afternoon Tea Week for you to indulge in. Take tea in some of the most renowned spots, like the infamous Bentley Hotel or Harrods Tea Rooms.

Champagne Afternoon Tea for Two at the 5 Star Bentley Hotel, London

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For the ultimate treat at such a reasonable price, take afternoon tea for two at London's 5 star Bentley Hotel. Relax in the Peridot Restaurant and enjoy helpings of finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones and divine cakes. Quench your thirst with a choice of tea, coffee or champagne.

Champagne Afternoon Tea for Two at The Harrods Tea Rooms

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For an unforgettable afternoon, why not take afternoon tea for two in Harrods Tea Rooms? Decorated with opulent 1920s glamour, indulge in fresh sandwiches, warm scones and Harrods own strawberry preserve and lemon curd. Accompanied with champagne and a pot of tea of your own choice.

Fortnum & Mason Champagne Afternoon Tea for Two in The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon

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In Fortnum & Mason's elegant Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, enjoy afternoon tea for two with a glass of champagne and expertly selected tea. On hand will be tea experts to advise you on which tea is right for you from Fortnum & Mason's extensive selection of blended teas. Along with delicious treats, specialist dietary menus are also available to choose from.

Afternoon tea drinks

Arguably, one of the most important aspects of afternoon tea is the tea, of course! If you're looking for traditional tea blends, there's Afternoon Tea, Earl Grey, English Breakfast Tea or Darjeeling and more. You can also add a hint of tartness or earthiness with a fruit tea or green tea selection.

And of course, if you're looking for an alcoholic beverage, there's champagne, bellini, Prosecco or Pimms. There are also non-alcoholic alternatives to these if your guests are wanting an alcohol-free drink while joining in on the festivities. Here are a few suggestions on afternoon tea drinks you can serve to your guests.

Fortnum's Famous Tea Selection, 60 Tea Bags, 120g

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For a divine selection of traditional teas, Fortnum & Mason have all you'll need for your afternoon tea gathering. From Earl Grey to Breakfast Blend, your guests will be able to sample teas of different flavours. If you're looking for a selection of fruit tea or flavoured tea, Fortnum has a wide variety of tea available.

Flavoured Coffee Gift Set

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For guests who prefer coffee? This coffee gift set from Whittard has flavours of hazelnut, vanilla, salted caramel and amaretto for them to try. Flavoured coffee adds an extra special touch and gives guests an opportunity to try something they might not have been able to try otherwise.

San Leo Prosecco Brut NV

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If you're looking for something with bubbles, this bestselling Prosecco from Waitrose may just refresh your guests. Perfect for a summer afternoon, add some opulence your afternoon tea with some sparkling wine.

Fortnum's Sparkling Tea, 0% ABV, 75cl

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For non-alcoholic fizz, Fortnum & Mason's sparkling tea combines flavours of black, white and green tea. With a refreshing hint of jasmine, lemongrass and tropical fruits, your guests can join in with festivities with an alcohol-free drink.

Afternoon tea scones

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Above all, it’s not an afternoon tea without a homemade scone with fresh cream and jam. No doubt you’ll already have a trusty scone recipe you always use, whether it’s with currents or without, but make sure you make enough for one scone each.

It’s best to serve your scones whole on the middle plate of your stand with some jam and cream on the side for each scone. After all, we know how opinionated people can get about what order to spread on your cream and jam, so it’s best to leave it up to your guest!

Rossa's Cornish Clotted Cream is renowned across tea rooms as being the best clotted cream. Whether it's cream or jam first, you can't deny this clotted cream belongs with a freshly baked scone.

Booths Butter and Clotted Cream Scones 4 Pack

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Made with butter and clotted cream, these scones are soft, sweet and fresh. Ideal for afternoon tea, this mouth watering four pack of scones can warmed in the oven or the microwave. Add clotted cream and jam for an iconic afternoon tea treat.

Bonne Maman Preserve Strawberry 13oz

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This delicious strawberry preserve will add some sweetness to your scones. Made from 100 per cent natural strawberry preserves made in France, this jar is packed full of natural flavour.

Afternoon tea sandwiches

After that, you’ll want to start with your sandwiches. The beauty about making your sandwiches at home is that you won’t have to leave the ones you aren’t so keen on. That way, you can make the exact flavours you, your friends and family prefer.

As you’ll probably want your afternoon tea to feel a bit special, it’s a good idea to go for more premium fillings, like the more expensive ham and beef with some very tasty spreads. We’ve listed some of our favourite sandwich filling ideas that aren’t too tricky to make:

Afternoon tea sandwiches

Afternoon tea sandwich ideas

Ham and mustard

Egg and cress

Smoked salmon and cream cheese

Cucumber and cream cheese

Cheese and pickle

Coronation chicken

Roast beef and horseradish

Prawn sandwiches

We recommend choosing three or four different sandwich options to ensure there’s enough variety. Try to allow for each person to have one of each sandwich flavour when you’re buying your ingredients. In other words, if you were serving afternoon tea for two, you might want to make eight sandwich fingers in total, with two of each flavour.


When it comes to the bread, we recommend going for either a white loaf or a brown loaf. You can mix this up depending on your filling and what your guests prefer, but make sure it’s a good quality loaf that’s pre-cut, so it will look as neat as possible to take some of the pressure off you.


You’ll want to cut off the crusts of your bread to achieve the perfect afternoon tea sandwich. We’d recommend removing the crusts after you’ve made the sandwich for the neatest results. You’ll need a very sharp bread knife to cut the sandwiches into finger shapes, so it’s worth investing in a decent knife.


If you’re feeling adventurous, you might even want to have a go at using a biscuit cutter to make your sandwiches into some interesting shapes! To keep your sandwiches as fresh as possible, it’s a good idea to make your sandwiches on the morning of your tea. Then once you’re ready to serve it, pop your sandwiches on the bottom layer of your tea stand.

Afternoon Tea Sandwich Fingers (20 Pieces)

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For premade afternoon tea finger sandwiches, Marks & Spencer have them all. From popular flavours like egg and watercress, beef and horseradish, prawn mayonnaise, honey roast ham, farmhouse cheddar as well as smoked salmon and cream cheese.

Afternoon tea cakes

On the top layer of your afternoon tea stand, you’ll want a variety of tempting treats to finish off your afternoon tea. It’s totally up to you what you serve as the sweet option. You may want to make a number of large cakes, which you can serve in slices, or you might want to go for smaller desserts, like mini tarts, brownies, macarons or cupcakes.

Afternoon tea cake ideas

Victoria sponge

Lemon drizzle cake

Carrot cake

Chocolate fudge cake

Coffee and walnut cake

While making a cake or two might be easy, you might want to buy some cakes from a patisserie or local bakery if you’re short on time or nervous about getting the cakes right. Here are some traditional cakes your guests will enjoy.

Victoria Strawberry Sponge Cake

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For a traditional Victoria Sponge with a twist, this deliciously decorated cake by Cutter and Squidge will no doubt impress your guests. Topped with dried strawberries, white chocolate crispy pearls and a dusting of strawberry powder, cut a slice of this beauty and enjoy with your afternoon tea.

Carrot Cake

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A classic when it comes to afternoon tea, this carrot cake features candied orange peel and zesty orange buttercream for a complimentary citrus flavour. Not to forget the spiced carrot sponge that will have you and your guests reaching for seconds.

Vanilla Naked Cake

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Light sponge is decorated and filled with fluffy buttercream. For something that all your guests can enjoy, the Vanilla Naked Cake from Marks and Spencers will be a hit. You can decorate with toppings of your choice, from fruit to edible flowers, or leave it exactly the way it is.

Afternoon tea small dessert ideas

Macarons

Mini tarts

Brownies

Blondies

Profiteroles

Mini eclairs

Small pots of mousse

Likewise, if you won't have time to make your own, there are plenty of desserts that you can buy premade at your local patisserie or bakery. Here are some suggestions that you may like.

Iceland Luxury 12 Macarons 132g

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A popular choice as a small dessert, with a crisp texture and sweet filling, there's nothing like cleansing the palette with macaroons. In flavours of vanilla, lemon, salted caramel, chocolate, strawberry and pistachio, take your pick of these delicious vegetarian-friendly desserts.

Mixed Mini Brownie Box

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Serve these wonderfully baked vegetarian brownies up to your guests and have them choose between a selection of different flavours. From peanut butter fudge to Nutella bites, there are flavours to suit everyone!

Classic Patisserie Box

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For a delicious selection of gateaux, Feuille and cheesecake, this patisserie selection box can decorate your cake stand. Made from vegetarian-friendly ingredients, these mini desserts will be suitable for a wide range of guests.

Afternoon tea stands

Let's not forget the pièce de résistance of afternoon tea - the stand! There are lots of stands to choose from, but we've chosen a few traditional afternoon tea stands to serve your guests.

Tropics Cake Plate

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This colourful stand has a tropical theme, making it perfect for a summer tea party. With lovely gold detailing, this afternoon tea stand is a showstopper with a surprisingly affordable price tag! There are also matching teapot, mugs and side plates to match.

Sara Miller Chelsea Collection Cake Stand, Green

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If you're looking for something a little more special, we love this stunningly designed cake stand that really will bring the wow factor. Each plate in the cake stand features Sara's signature designs embellished with 22-carat gold that sparkles in the light, and you can also buy the matching teapot, cups and accessories.

Royal Albert Old Country Roses 3-Tier Cake Stand

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This traditional fine bone china Royal Albert cake stand features a painterly floral design that's just timeless. If you're looking for a cake stand that's a centrepiece and can be put on display in your china cabinet, this is it. Due to its delicate nature, however, this cake stand can't be put in the dishwasher or microwave.

Afternoon tea delivery

Finally, if all else fails - you can get afternoon tea delivered right to your door. If you're pushed for time, some beautiful premade boxes can be sent to you in time for your tea party. From letterbox deliveries to hampers, why not treat your guests to a premade afternoon tea?

Ultimate Afternoon Tea Selection

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The perfect selection for your tea party, these sweet treats from Marks and Spencer includes Victoria Sponge Cake, strawberry and clotted cream sponge roll, brownies, biscuits, Bakewell tarts, as well as tea and coffee.

Afternoon Tea At Home UK Delivery

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Wanting to treat yourself and someone special to your own premade afternoon tea? This delivery box is complete with scones, jam, clotted cream, brownies, lemon drizzle and English Breakfast tea for the perfect indulgent treat.

The Kensington Teatime Hamper

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For a luxury afternoon tea, this beautifully presented hamper provides all the goods. Containing Devon scones, Victoria Sponge cake, strawberry jam as well as delicious biscuits to dip in a cup of tea of your choice.

Afternoon Tea Letter Box Hamper

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For afternoon tea delivered straight through your letterbox. Featuring a gorgeous vintage design, this beautifully presented letterbox delivery will have your mouth watering. Containing shortbreads, dark chocolate, raspberry jam and a selection of tea.

Madame Valerie's Afternoon Tea

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Treat yourself to freshly baked afternoon tea from Madam Valerie's Pattisserie. Choose between tea for two or tea for four, and get it delivered on the next available delivery slot. With cakes, scones and tea galore, you won't have to worry about preparing your afternoon tea - Madam Valerie's Afternoon Tea has everything you'll need.

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