font loading for Top nav
Spread of afternoon tea cakes and biscuits, with model pouring tea




Photographer: Tara Fisher

Editor’s Pick: the insiders’ must-haves



Deputy food editor


Afternoon tea is a traditional British pastime that’s endured for centuries: here’s how to enjoy it at home

The Duchess of Bedford is said to have invented afternoon tea in 1840 to quell “that sinking feeling” she felt at around four o’clock, when lunch was a distant memory and dinner was still hours away. While our lives are a little busier these days, there’s still joy in delicate sweet treats. If you’re hosting at home, our Food to Order service has a choice of cakes, finger sandwiches and pastries befitting an elegant spread. Such sophisticated snacks call for proper etiquette: serve loose leaf tea – replenished regularly. Sandwiches should be eaten with your fingers, cakes and tarts with a fork. Enjoy at a leisurely pace and, above all, don’t plan a big dinner.
Shop afternoon tea   Get our daily edit

“CELEBRATE Afternoon Tea Week
by getting friends together
for a stylish spread”