How to serve afternoon tea at its best?

by carol

This question sparked a bit of a debate... but even though there were many opinion, a few things we all agreed on.

While there's nothing wrong with a cuppa and biscuit by the computer, afternoon tea traditionally served is a real treat.

First of all, the tea needs to be made in a proper teapot. There are all sorts of them around, from the really old-fashioned ones to some rather beautiful modern glass numbers.

Use loose tea rather than teabags. You want one teaspoon of tea per cup and one for the pot.

Before you put the tea in, you warm the pot with some hot water. Otherwise, the cold pot will cool the hot water and your tea will not brew properly.

Make sure your water is boiling before you pour it over the tea leaves. Put the pot somewhere warm and leave it for 5 minutes to steep, before pouring out tea. Offer milk and sugar separately.

To make the most of your tea, find some lovely teatime treats like these or try offering dainty tea sandwiches to your guests. Actually, both would be REALLY traditional.

And what aspects of tea drinking could we not agree on? Well, there were two:

  • should you put the milk in the cup before adding the tea or pour the tea first?

  • Is a tea cosy essential for a proper afternoon tea?

Unfortunately, I simply don't have the answer to those.

Comments for How to serve afternoon tea at its best?

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by: Kasy

I think, the English people do have a great skill in making a tea really special and delicious. There are so many secret recipes with them which they use to make these magic happen. Sharing those tricks is an excellent thing.

How to serve delicious afternoon tea
by: denise gibbs

Tea should be English breakfast for tea with milk and earl grey for tea without milk or with lemon slice . Warm a china tea pot with boiling water and place loose leaf tea in the ratio of one teaspoon per cup plus one for the pot after you have thrown warming water away . Pour water straight from the boil onto leaves. Boiling water is very important to the brew . I prefer to put milk into the cup first as it can be measured more accurately that way and I can pour some away if I add too much. For the best taste use china cups or beakers, it really does make a difference!ENJOY

Milk in first (or not)
by: Tolkny

This was something I did not understand and may have become a class issue.

I think originally, from what I have read, (I wont search to reference it now) it was basically a very practical matter. Hot liquid poured into a porcelain vessel was at risk of breaking. So unless one had high quality porcelain, it would have been safest to slightly cool the tea by pouring in cold milk first. From that a way of showing you have fine china cups is to pour the tea in first, hence it coluld be come an issue of class.

Milk before or after
by: Anonymous

If you put the milk in after you are demonstrating that you are confident your drinking vessel is well made and will not break, with the addition of hot tea. So I guess it is a mark of confident affluence, which no doubt some equate with 'class'!

milk before tea
by: SmugglingPeanuts

The reason they poured the milk in the tea cup before the tea was poured from the pot, was to prevent the fragile, beautiful china they used from cracking from the heat of the freshly brewed tea.

Tea etiquette
by: James (London)

You should always add milk or sugar AFTER the tea has been poured.

To put milk in the cup before you pour the tea would be frowned upon in any smart hotel. Of course, in the privacy of your own home, do anything you like!

Afternoon tea
by: Doreen

Well with the world of tea bags (My parents thought were terrible) many of us don`t have milk in tea anymore so that solves that problem....I like lactose free milk...skimmed far too watery here in Oz warming the pot first would be norm from Granmas days...then for family pot three teaspoons of tea leaves and that should be more than enough for four people Pour the boiling water into the teapot close the lid and leave for 2-3 minutes then stir the pot well and close the lid and pop the cosy back on!!!!!Milk added as desired and type of milk too!!I Indian tea days were perfect as they had it all off pat!!!!!!

Afternoon Tea at it's best
by: Hannah Dennison

I'm dead curious about the milk before tea rule and always thought it was a class issue. Would love to know if you find out!

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