Our guide to the perfect Mother's Day 2021 Afternoon Tea

Thursday, 25 February 2021  |  The Tea Makers of London

It's true, Mother's Day is now just around the corner, and we can see no better, more British way than to celebrate this special occasion for your mum with a delicious Afternoon Tea service enjoyed safely at home. Get ready for our mother’s day gift suggestion, with thin slices of finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, cakes and, of course, the English Breakfast and Earl Grey teas!

First, a brief history of Afternoon tea.

No Afternoon Tea is complete without an anecdote, and our favourite one is how it all came to be.

The story begins back in the 19th Century, where it was commonplace to have only two meals a day, Breakfast and Dinner. With dinner typically served at 8 pm, this created a long pause between meals, which would set stomachs grumbling. Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, often complained about having that sinking feeling in the afternoon, and so she would take a pot of tea, which was becoming very popular during the mid-1800s, and a small meal to her bedroom to consume privately.

Before long, the sociable Duchess of Bedford took her habits out of the bedroom and into the Drawing Room by inviting her friends to come and enjoy an Afternoon Tea with a walk in the fields. As you can imagine, it did not take long for this to become popular amongst wealthy aristocrats before then becoming commonplace at fashionable establishments and hotels. In fact, the phrase 'at half-past three, everything stops for tea' became very well known.

As we all love, it may be interesting to know that scones played no part within Afternoon Tea until the 20th Century...

Afternoon tea delivered

Back in our modern age, a civilised High Tea has now become ingrained in British tradition. Sadly with recent lockdowns, we can only ponder our many happy memories of heading to our favourite cafe, or rural tea room, searching for stacked plates full of bite-size treats and a cream tea. However, you can now get an exceptional Afternoon Tea service delivered across the UK. 

London-based Kettle & Crumb is a great caterer offering just that to the UK mainland, and you know it's going to be good because they feature our teas and have excellent reviews. Alternatively, for those who may know of The Chesterfield’s excellent reputation, they too are offering High Tea delivered to London residents, which again is exceptional and features The Tea Makers of London teas.

Creating afternoon tea at home

If you would rather not have the complete experience delivered, are part of the same support bubble and would like to take the time to treat your mother to a bespoke experience, then it can be fun to create your own. For example, you can tailor the teas to her very tastes, mix flavours, and offer some long-term benefits. 

Selecting the perfect tea

When thinking of an Afternoon Tea, traditionally, you may be served with strong Black Teas that can be enjoyed with milk and sugar, such as English Breakfast, Earl Grey or delicate Darjeeling. Certainly, you cannot go wrong with any of these, particularly if they are of excellent quality, but there are more options for the adventurous.

At The Tea Makers, we offer over 200 teas, each deliciously unique. If you would like your mum to explore some teas and blends with a slight twist on the originals, our suggestions are below.

Mary Grey - A lighter alternative to Earl Grey

Assam Breakfast - A rich and malty Black Breakfast Tea: 

Ceylon Breakfast - A full-bodied Black Breakfast Tea with a bold caramel aroma:

Glenburn White Moonshine Flush - This very rare White Tea is very refreshing with a light fruity and floral flavour: 

 

Alternatively, if you wish to give a modern take on an Afternoon tea, we have some incredible green teas and herbals that make the perfect cup of tea:

Rooibos - Our most popular herbal is an ideal, caffeine-free alternative to English Breakfast: 

Chai of Madagascar - Exquisitely floral, this caffeine-free herbal is a flavour like nothing else: 

Flowering tea - Bring a delicious, theatrical experience to the table with tea that blooms in boiling water: 

Considering a selection of teas

For those who are considering a more extravagant Afternoon Tea Party and would like to take their mother on a journey through the flavours of a particular tea type, a Discovery Collection is an excellent and affordable way to explore. These include five premium sample teas and blends in loose-leaf variety, and they are available for all tea types. Our dedicated Discovery Page is here.

If you’re looking for simplicity at your Afternoon Tea, this is also no problem, an Envelope Gift selection, just like you would get in a tea room, would be ideal.

Brewing your afternoon tea

Once you have selected your chosen tea, brewing it correctly can make a massive difference to the flavour. Do take the time to get the correct water temperature, loose-leaf weight, and steeping time. At The Tea Makers, these are included on both the product page and the packaging, however if you have purchased a tea without this crucial guidance, this article by The Spruce Eats can be helpful: https://www.thespruceeats.com/tea-brewing-temperature-guide-766367

Presenting your afternoon tea

When you are ready to brew your tea, selecting the right teaware can be more than just making the tea served look good. Good quality teaware can make brewing loose leaf effortless and allow the heat to be retained during the brewing process and longer. We have a comprehensive selection that is ideal. However, if you already have your own, here are some top tips:

  1. The material that your teapot is made from is important. Try not to brew your tea in metal pots or unglazed articles as they can both affect and retain the flavour. For example, unglazed teapots can tightly hold on to the bitter tannins. We like glass.
  2. Preheat your teaware. All it takes is to pour some hot water into your teapot before you start brewing, allowing your loose leaf to infuse at the correct temperature.
  3. If you like your tea to stay hot, double-walled glasses can act as a thermos and keep your beverage hotter for longer. Here’s our example of one 
  4. Give your teaware at least a small clean in between uses to remove the tannin residue.

 

Selecting your cakes

If you have gone to the trouble of brewing and presenting your tea beautifully, then baking your own cakes and scones is our favourite way. Even if your attempts do not end up being the most beautiful, it’s the thought that counts. If this is something that you find daunting, it is always important to remember that you do not have to go wild with your baking, just a small selection will add a lovely, personal touch that will not go unnoticed.

We have selected some fantastic Afternoon Tea recipes that are suitable for bakers of all skills:

Scones: This five-star rated recipe by BBC Good Food has just five minutes prep and takes 10 minutes to bake - https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/classic-scones-jam-clotted-cream

Lemon Drizzle Cake: Lemon Drizzle cake is a classic. Delish has perfected their recipe which takes just over an hour to make and rewards you with a soft, vibrant and sweet cake: https://www.delish.com/uk/cooking/recipes/a28867437/lemon-drizzle-cake/

Victoria Sponge: Is there any other cake that feels more fitting for Afternoon Tea? We don’t think so. Olive Magazine has this classic perfected: https://www.olivemagazine.com/recipes/simple-victoria-sponge/

Strawberry Jam: It may still be early for Strawberries, but if you are feeling adventurous, there is nothing more rewarding than a homemade Strawberry Jam. This recipe by Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen is wonderful: https://charlotteslivelykitchen.com/homemade-strawberry-jam/

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The Tea Makers of London