Afternoon Tea Pairings

Tea time is a cherished midday ritual, allowing us to unwind and connect with friends over a delightful spread of sandwiches, scones, and sweets. But it’s the selection of tea that truly elevates the experience, as each type and flavor brings a unique touch to the occasion. In this article, I’ll guide you through eight ideal pairings for your afternoon tea, ensuring that your midday tea ritual is nothing short of extraordinary.

Now, let’s delve into the world of tea and discover the perfect companions for your tea time.

Key Takeaways:

  • Afternoon tea is a wonderful opportunity to socialize and relax with friends while enjoying a variety of snacks.
  • Tea plays a crucial role in the afternoon tea experience, complementing the menu in delightful ways.
  • There are different variations of afternoon tea menus, including Cream Tea, Strawberry Tea, Light Tea, and Full Afternoon Tea.
  • Earl Grey Tea is a popular choice to pair with desserts, offering a sweet citrusy flavor.
  • Chamomile Tea is perfect for fruity desserts, boasting an apple-like flavor.

What is Afternoon Tea?

Afternoon Tea, also known as “low tea,” is a tradition that originated in the mid-1800s. Named after the low side table from which it was traditionally served, afternoon tea has become a cherished midday ritual. It was introduced by the Duchess of Bedford to satisfy her hunger before the late dinner and quickly gained popularity among the upper class.

A typical afternoon tea is presented on a three-tier tray, showcasing a delightful array of light bites. The first tier usually consists of dainty finger sandwiches with various fillings such as cucumber, smoked salmon, or egg salad. The second tier holds freshly baked scones, served with clotted cream and preserves. Finally, the top tier is adorned with a selection of delicious desserts, including pastries, cakes, and cookies.

This elegant tea time tradition allows individuals to gather, socialize, and relax while indulging in a delightful combination of tea and delectable treats. The three-tier tray not only adds visual appeal but also provides a convenient way to enjoy different flavors and textures throughout the meal.

The History of Afternoon Tea

“The introduction of afternoon tea revolutionized the way people socialized and appreciated tea rituals.”

The popularity of afternoon tea grew rapidly, spreading from the English aristocracy to the middle class and eventually to other countries. Today, afternoon tea is a cherished tradition that is enjoyed in teahouses, hotels, and private homes around the world. It has become an opportunity for friends and loved ones to come together and create lasting memories while savoring the delights of tea and accompanying delicacies.

Types of Afternoon Tea Menus

When it comes to afternoon tea, there are different variations of menus that cater to different preferences and occasions. Whether you’re in the mood for a simple tea with scones or a full spread of finger sandwiches and desserts, there’s an afternoon tea menu to suit your taste. Let’s explore some popular options:

Cream Tea

Cream Tea is the simplest form of afternoon tea, perfect for those who prefer a lighter option. It typically includes a pot of tea, warm scones, clotted cream, and preserves. The scones can be plain or flavored with fruit or spices. Cream Tea is a classic choice that highlights the timeless combination of tea and scones.

Strawberry Tea

For a delightful twist on Cream Tea, Strawberry Tea adds a touch of freshness and sweetness to the experience. In addition to the traditional Cream Tea components, fresh strawberries are also served, enhancing the overall flavor profile. The juicy berries pair beautifully with the scones and cream, creating a delightful treat for your taste buds.

Light Tea

If you’re looking for a more substantial afternoon tea menu without going all out, Light Tea is a fantastic option. It includes everything you would find in a Cream Tea, but with a few additional savory or sweet choices. This could be a selection of finger sandwiches, petits fours, or mini pastries. Light Tea strikes the perfect balance between simplicity and variety.

Full Afternoon Tea

For the ultimate afternoon tea experience, Full Afternoon Tea is the way to go. It offers a complete set of finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and preserves, and an assortment of desserts. The finger sandwiches can include classic fillings like cucumber and smoked salmon, while the desserts range from cakes and tarts to cookies and pastries. Full Afternoon Tea is an indulgent feast that showcases the best of what the midday tea ritual has to offer.

Now that you’re familiar with the various types of afternoon tea menus, you can choose the one that suits your preferences and enjoy a delightful tea time experience.

Tea with Dessert: Earl Grey Tea

When it comes to pairing tea with desserts during your afternoon tea, one standout choice is Earl Grey Tea. This well-known black tea blend is beloved for its sweet citrusy flavor, derived from the essential oil of bergamot. The bright and refreshing notes of Earl Grey Tea perfectly complement the indulgent sweetness of afternoon tea sweets.

Whether you’re enjoying a slice of cake, a delicate macaron, or a buttery scone, Earl Grey Tea adds a delightful layer of flavor to your dessert experience. The subtle citrus undertones add a touch of complexity without overpowering the sweetness of the treats. It’s no wonder that Earl Grey Tea is a popular choice among tea enthusiasts.

To enhance the tea selection at your next afternoon tea gathering, consider offering a variety of Earl Grey Tea options. You can opt for classic Earl Grey, which features a traditional blend of black tea and bergamot oil, or explore variations like lavender-infused Earl Grey for a floral twist. The versatility of Earl Grey Tea makes it an excellent choice for elevating your tea time experience.

The Versatility of Earl Grey Tea

Earl Grey Tea is not just limited to pairing with sweets. Its distinct flavor profile also complements a wide range of other dishes. For a savory twist, try serving Earl Grey Tea with cucumber sandwiches or smoked salmon canapés. The tea’s refreshing citrus notes add a zesty contrast that balances the richness of these savory bites.

Additionally, Earl Grey Tea can be enjoyed on its own as a standalone beverage during the afternoon. Its invigorating aroma and smooth taste make it a delightful choice for tea enthusiasts looking to savor every sip. Whether you’re enjoying it with dessert, as part of a traditional afternoon tea, or simply on its own, Earl Grey Tea is a versatile and delicious option.

Tea with Fruity Desserts: Chamomile Tea

Tea with fruity desserts

When it comes to pairing tea with fruity desserts, Chamomile Tea is an excellent choice. This caffeine-free herbal tea offers a delightful and refreshing apple-like flavor that complements the sweetness of fruity treats. Whether you’re enjoying a slice of fruit pie, a bowl of fresh berries, or a fruity tart, Chamomile Tea adds a touch of floral essence that enhances the overall taste experience.

Chamomile Tea’s light and calming qualities make it a popular choice at afternoon tea parties. Its subtle flavor profile doesn’t overpower the fruity desserts but rather enhances their natural sweetness. With its golden color and soothing aroma, Chamomile Tea also adds a visual element to the tea experience, making it a delightful addition to any tea table.

To truly elevate your tea time with fruity desserts, consider serving Chamomile Tea in delicate teacups alongside a beautiful fruit platter. The combination of the tea’s apple-like flavor and the vibrant colors of the fresh fruits creates a visually appealing and enticing spread. Your guests will appreciate the thoughtfulness and the harmonious blend of flavors that complement each other perfectly.

Chamomile Tea Pairing Suggestions:

  • Classic apple pie
  • Berry-filled pastries
  • Fruit tarts
  • Mixed berry scones
  • Summer fruit salad

“I love how the apple-like flavor of Chamomile Tea enhances the sweetness of fruity desserts. It’s the perfect combination for a delightful tea time experience.” – Tea enthusiast

Next time you’re planning an afternoon tea party or simply enjoying a fruity dessert, don’t forget to pair it with Chamomile Tea. Its delicate apple-like flavor and soothing qualities will enhance the sweetness of your treats, creating a truly memorable tea time experience.

Tea Flavor Profile Best Pairings
Chamomile Tea Apple-like flavor Fruit pies, fruit tarts, berry-filled pastries, mixed berry scones
Earl Grey Tea Sweet citrusy flavor Cakes, cookies, chocolate desserts
Mint Tea Refreshing minty flavor Finger sandwiches, chocolates, fruity sweets

Tea for Caffeine-Free Guests: Mint Tea

If you’re hosting an afternoon tea and want to provide options for your guests who prefer to avoid caffeine, Mint Tea is a fantastic choice. This refreshing herbal tea, available in variations like peppermint and spearmint, offers a delightful and aromatic experience that pairs perfectly with the array of treats on your tea table.

Mint Tea’s invigorating flavor and cool, minty notes make it a versatile accompaniment to various afternoon tea delights. From delicate finger sandwiches filled with cucumber or cream cheese to indulgent chocolates and fruity sweets, Mint Tea adds a refreshing touch that complements the flavors and elevates the overall tea time experience.

To prepare a delightful Mint Tea, simply steep a few fresh mint leaves or a tea bag in hot water for a few minutes. The resulting infusion will delight your guests with its soothing aroma and invigorating taste. Serve it in delicate teacups alongside a selection of treats, and watch as your caffeine-free guests enjoy their own personalized tea experience.

Refreshing Mint Tea Recipe

  • Boil water in a kettle or saucepan.
  • Place fresh mint leaves or a Mint Tea bag in a teapot.
  • Pour the hot water over the mint leaves or tea bag.
  • Let it steep for 3-5 minutes to infuse the flavors.
  • Pour the Mint Tea into delicate teacups.
  • Enjoy alongside your favorite afternoon tea treats!

With Mint Tea as an option for your caffeine-free guests, you’ll ensure that everyone can partake in the joy of afternoon tea. The refreshing flavor profile and versatility of Mint Tea make it a delightful choice that will leave your guests craving more.

Tea for Relaxation: Lavender Tea

Lavender Tea

Lavender Tea is a soothing and aromatic choice that adds a touch of relaxation to your afternoon tea experience. With its distinct lavender flavor and delicate floral notes, this tea creates a calming ambiance and promotes a sense of tranquility. Whether enjoyed on its own or paired with scones, cream, and cookies, Lavender Tea elevates your tea time to a new level of serenity.

A popular blend includes a mixture of chamomile and mint, adding an extra element of relaxation to the tea. Chamomile is known for its calming properties, while mint provides a refreshing and invigorating twist. The combination of these flavors creates a harmonious balance that is perfect for unwinding and de-stressing.

“Lavender Tea is like taking a peaceful stroll through a lavender field, allowing your worries to melt away with each sip.”

When serving Lavender Tea at your afternoon tea party, consider creating a visually appealing table display. Place a teapot filled with Lavender Tea in the center, surrounded by delicate teacups and saucers. Add a touch of elegance with a lavender flower centerpiece or sprigs of fresh mint. These thoughtful details not only enhance the aesthetic appeal but also heighten the overall tea-drinking experience.

Benefits of Lavender Tea:

  • Relieves stress and anxiety
  • Promotes better sleep
  • Soothes digestive issues
  • Helps reduce inflammation
  • Boosts mood and mental clarity
Lavender Tea Chamomile Tea Mint Tea
Relaxing lavender flavor Gentle apple-like flavor Refreshing minty flavor
Perfect for pairing with scones, cream, and cookies Ideal with fruity desserts Great for caffeine-free guests
Creates a serene and peaceful tea time ambiance Enhances relaxation and tranquility Adds a refreshing twist to the tea experience

So, why not indulge in a cup of Lavender Tea during your afternoon tea time? Let the calming aroma and delicate flavors transport you to a place of relaxation and serenity. Whether you’re looking to unwind after a busy day or simply want to enhance your tea-drinking experience, Lavender Tea is the perfect choice to help you find your moment of zen.

Tea with Fresh Fruit: Green Tea

When it comes to pairing tea with fresh fruit, Green Tea is a fantastic choice. With its vegetative flavor and refreshing qualities, it complements a wide range of fruity treats. Whether you’re indulging in a fruit salad, enjoying a fruit-filled pastry, or simply savoring a delicious scone, Green Tea enhances the natural sweetness of the fruits and provides a delightful balance.

Green teas with fruity notes and sweeter flavors are especially suited for this pairing. The subtle hints of fruit in the tea wonderfully complement the flavors of the fresh fruits, creating a harmonious combination that elevates your tea time experience. The light, fragrant nature of Green Tea also allows the flavors of the fruit to shine through, making each bite a burst of natural goodness.

Next time you sit down for afternoon tea, consider brewing a cup of Green Tea to accompany your favorite fresh fruit delights. Its vibrant taste and fruity notes will add a refreshing touch to your midday tea ritual, making it even more enjoyable.


What is Afternoon Tea?

Afternoon Tea, also known as “low tea,” is a mid-1800s tradition that originated in England. It is an opportunity to socialize and relax with friends while enjoying a variety of snacks like sandwiches and sweets. It is served on a three-tier tray and accompanied by different types of tea.

What are the types of Afternoon Tea menus?

There are different variations of Afternoon Tea menus. Cream Tea is the simplest form, consisting of tea, scones, clotted cream, and preserves. Strawberry Tea is a cream tea with the addition of fresh strawberries. Light Tea is similar to a cream tea but includes a few extra savory or sweet choices. Full Afternoon Tea offers a complete set of finger sandwiches, scones with condiments, and desserts.

What is the ideal tea pairing for dessert?

Earl Grey Tea is a popular choice to pair with desserts during Afternoon Tea. It is a black tea blend with a sweet citrusy flavor derived from the essential oil of bergamot.

What tea pairs well with fruity desserts?

Chamomile Tea is an excellent choice to pair with fruity desserts during Afternoon Tea. It is a caffeine-free herbal tea with an apple-like flavor.

What tea is suitable for caffeine-free guests?

Mint Tea, such as peppermint or spearmint, is a great option for caffeine-free guests during Afternoon Tea. It pairs perfectly with finger sandwiches, chocolates, and fruity sweets, providing a refreshing and flavorful option.

What tea is good for relaxation?

Lavender Tea is commonly used to add flavor to scones and baked goods at Afternoon Tea parties. Its sweet and perfumed taste pairs well with scones, cream, and cookies. Lavender tea often comes in variations that include a mixture of chamomile and mint, adding to its relaxing properties.

What tea pairs well with fresh fruit?

Green Tea has a vegetative flavor and works particularly well when paired with fresh fruit. Green teas with fruity notes and sweeter flavors are an excellent choice to complement fruit salads, fruit-filled pastries, and scones.

By Mat Stuckey

Ex professional chef with a passion for cooking and unique flavours.

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