When most of us think of tea, we might imagine a warm drink served with a biscuit or two on a cold day. But the British have turned tea into an art form; afternoon tea is one of their most cherished traditions.
If this is your first time attending an afternoon tea, you might wonder what to expect. In this article, we’ll introduce you to the traditional English afternoon tea set and tell you everything you need to know about hosting your tea party. We’ll also give you tips on what to serve and answer common questions about British tea sets. So please sit back, relax, and let us teach you all about the allure of an English afternoon tea set.
What Is an English Afternoon Tea Set?
An English afternoon tea set is a type of tea set that is used for serving afternoon tea. It comprises a teapot, cups, saucers, and a plate for cakes or pastries.
The English afternoon tea set is different from the breakfast tea set in that it is smaller and typically has finer china. It is also for an other kind of tea—afternoon tea, as opposed to breakfast tea.
The English afternoon tea set is a beautiful addition to any household and makes hosting a tea party much more special.
What to Serve at an English Tea Party?
When it comes to English tea, the options are endless. You can combine a traditional tea set or mix it up with a breakfast tea set. Either way, you’ll want to serve various teas and snacks.
Your guests will love different sampling types of tea, so make sure to have a wide selection. You can add classics like scones and clotted cream or get creative with fun toppings like fresh fruit or jam. And remember the biscuits! Serve up a variety of cookies and pastries for your guests to enjoy.
With so many delicious options, your guests will be spoilt for choice. So why not host an English tea party and discover the allure of this timeless tradition?
Traditional English Tea Set Components
When you think of a traditional English tea set, the first things that come to mind are a cup of tea, a scone with clotted cream and jam, and a slice of cake. And you’re right—these are all components of a classic English tea set.
But what do they all mean? Let’s break it down:
A cup of tea: This is the essential part of an English afternoon tea set. Tea is served in small cups or glasses, with milk and sugar added according to your preference.
A scone: A scone is a type of bread popular in the UK. It’s made with flour, milk, butter, and sometimes currants or raisins. It’s usually served with clotted cream and jam.
A slice of cake: Tea sets always include a piece or two of cake. It can be anything from a simple Victoria sponge cake to a more elaborate layer cake.
Other accompaniments: In addition to the tea, scone and cake, you might also find treats like cookies, pastries or mini sandwiches at an English tea party.
Differences Between a Coffee and Tea Set
Do you know about the differences between coffee and tea sets? For starters, there are typically more pieces in a tea set than in a coffee set.
A traditional European tea set includes a teapot, creamer and sugar vessel, waste bowl, and four to six cups with saucers. American tea sets can also have demitasse cups for serving espresso. On the other hand, a standard coffee set is typically much more straightforward and includes just a coffeepot (often with matching cups and saucers).
In terms of design features, traditional English afternoon tea sets usually feature delicate floral patterns or embossed designs. At the same time, the American versions tend to be more modern-looking with geometric shapes.
If you’re looking for something special, you should shop for antique copper or silver-plated sets because these will really stand out. Of course, these are also going to be more expensive as well.
Choosing the Right British Tea Set
When you shop for your English afternoon tea set, there are vital things to remember. First, do you want a traditional English tea set or one that is more modern? You’ll find a vast selection of both available, so take your time and find something that speaks to you.
Second, it’s essential to consider the size and number of pieces needed to serve all your guests. A three-piece set consisting of a teapot, creamer and sugar bowl should be enough for most gatherings. If you’re planning on having a more significant number of guests, consider purchasing a complete dinnerware set.
Thirdly, consider the quality of the materials used in the set. Higher quality sets will last longer and be better able to withstand the wear and tear of daily use. Additionally, look for groups that include fine details like hand-painted designs or intricate engravings for an added touch of luxury.
Best Brands to Look Out for When Shopping for a Tea Set
When shopping for a tea set, you’ll want to look for brands specialising in quality materials and craftsmanship. A good tea set should be sturdy and look good for years to come, so it’s worth investing in a good brand. Some of my favourite brands include Lenox, William Sonoma and Wedgwood. And my favourite e-commerce website for English tea sets is teasetbox.com.
Lenox offers a wide range of classic tea sets made from premium bone china. They also have some beautifully patterned pieces with golden trimming that are perfect for hosting afternoon tea parties. Williams Sonoma has an eclectic range of tea sets and other dinnerware and kitchen accessories with a modern twist. With its signature Jasperware collection, Wedgwood offers classic and contemporary designs that capture the British charm of high tea parties.
These top brands are all known for their timeless pieces, so you can rest assured your purchase will stand the test of time. As they always say, “good things come in threes!”
So, what is an English afternoon tea set? It’s a set of dishes specifically used to serve afternoon tea. It usually includes a teapot, cups, saucers, a milk jug, and a sugar bowl. The set may consist of a cake plate, a bread plate, and a teacup stand.
English afternoon tea sets are typically made of china or porcelain and come in various styles and designs. The most popular tea set brands include Royal Doulton, Noritake, and Wedgwood.