smei afternoon tea

National Afternoon Tea Week

Celebrating a Great British Tradition – it’s Time for Tea.

A quintessentially British tradition established in the middle of the 19th Century,1 whilst afternoon tea is no longer confined to the upper echelons of society, it’s safe to say this well-known self-indulgent treat will be enjoyed for many future decades to come. In fact, this tasty afternoon refreshment is so popular, it has its own place in our Great British calendar.

National Afternoon Tea Week takes place 9 – 15 August 2021, and although we don’t need an excuse to tuck into a plate of neat little sandwiches, delicate cakes and scones paired with jam and fresh cream (are you drooling yet?) accompanied by a cup of English tea - the week is a great opportunity to attract fresh footfall into your establishment.

Afternoon tea is a popular way to celebrate special events including birthdays, baby showers, students leaving school, colleagues leaving work, or simply just good friends getting together.

One trend to come out of the pandemic is more people are supporting local cafés and smaller businesses in their community. There has been a collective attitude to support the businesses closer to home to help them survive, so why not promote you are offering afternoon tea in your local area?

So, whichever type of café you run, what’s the secret to serving the perfect afternoon tea, and most importantly, do you know afternoon tea etiquette?

Who pours the tea?
It’s the duty of the person sitting nearest to the teapot to pour, so depending on the nature of your establishment, if your waiting staff usually place teapots on tables, make sure it’s placed next to a responsible adult, not little hands that want to help.

What comes first, milk, or tea?
If you’re serving in bone china, the milk needs to go in first, to protect the china. If your crockery is more robust, then it’s down to personal preference which order the milk or tea is poured.

How do your sandwiches shape up?
According to etiquette expert William Hanson,2 sandwiches must have their crusts removed. They can be cut into triangles, rectangles or – as the royal household prefers – in small squares, but never serve them in large diagonal crosscuts.

Sandwich fillings have evolved over time. Of course, the traditional cucumber option is still a staple contribution to a traditional afternoon tea, but there are no restrictions; why not try something new and incorporate a vegan range?

Cream, or jam on top?
There’s an ongoing debate over which comes first when it comes to scone preparation – the cream or the jam. According to Devon Heaven,3 people in Devon typically spread the clotted cream first followed by jam, whereas the Cornish tradition is to spread jam first, then top with cream. This isn’t a subject to be taken lightly, there are arguments for and against both options; what’s your preference?

And finally, no afternoon tea discussion would be complete without the question, ‘Is it scone (to rhyme with “gone”) or scone (to rhyme with “cone”)?’ Well, we will leave that for you to decide…

There are additional benefits to offering afternoon tea on your menu, whether temporarily or permanently. Visually they look attractive and therefore make great social media content for those food-photographing customers who like to tell their friends where they are and what they’re eating.

But don’t forget, issues and risks can brew up in any café business so it’s important to protect against these day-to-day challenges. Comprehensive café insurance gives you peace of mind, protecting you, your customers, and your reputation should a storm in a teacup arise.

To find out more about our specialised insurance cover for cafés, or to obtain a no obligation quote for your business, contact the team at smei on 0330 134 4564.


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