No longer just for the upper classes and social elite, afternoon tea is a popular past time for those who love to catch up with friends and family over a pot of tea and some bite-sized treats.
Afternoon tea dates back to the nineteenth century, when the norm was to have just two meals per day, and many would find themselves a little peckish whilst waiting for the 8pm dinner time to come around.
Today, it’s a firm favourite for groups of friends, cosy couples and even business professionals, who enjoy a little strategy over some freshly baked scones.
Here, we follow guidance from The Mere on the best way to do afternoon tea.
The Mere loves to add their own special touch to afternoon teas…
You shouldn’t be surprised to find man-sized bites and beer shots in their Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea, or cute cake pops with milkshakes in their children’s version.
The ‘proper’ way
There are no hard and fast rules – it’s best enjoyed the way that makes you the happiest – however, if you should find yourself taking afternoon tea amongst royalty then here’s the ‘proper’ etiquette…
1. The tea
Sugar is placed in the cup first, then thinly sliced lemon (unless you’re having milk).
Milk goes in after the tea (don’t argue, that’s how it is – you won’t know how strong the tea is before pouring it into the cup, and so adding the milk last allows you to control the strength).
A light flick of the teaspoon above the cup when finished (to shake off the drips) is elegant – but bashing the spoon on the side of the cup is considered boisterous!
Leave that pinky down.
2. The sandwiches
The correct order when choosing from the tea stand is to eat sandwiches first, scones next and cakes last – although the order has changed over time, as guests like to eat the scones first while they are still nice and warm!
Tea sandwiches must have their crusts cut off and be cut into triangles, rectangles or (as the royal household prefers) small squares.
Finger sandwiches are made small enough to be enjoyed with the hands, so cutlery isn’t necessary.
3. The jam or cream debate
There’s been much debate over whether it should be jam then cream or cream then jam. It depends on whether you’re more in favour of the Cornwall or Devon way of doing things.
The Cornish like to show off their clotted cream and so place it in pride of place, on top of the jam, whereas Devonians are said to prefer their cream seeping into the warm scone below.
Whichever way you like to take yours, whichever side of the debate you’re on, we can say one thing for certain: when you’re at The Mere you can make yourself at home.
The Mere serves its Afternoon Tea every day in Browns and the Lobby Lounge.
To book, contact the reservations team.