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Afternoon Tea in London

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It's AFTERNOON TEA WEEK (who knew?) so I thought it was a good time to talk about afternoon tea in London!

Afternoon tea is such a fun thing to do while you're in London. And, don't worry, you won't starve to death and need to stop for food afterwards. You will get plenty of food and come away feeling quite satisfied.

First, let's define what afternoon tea is and what it isn't. In the US, we sometimes, actually often, call it "High Tea". That's what my mother called it her whole life. I never questioned what she meant because I didn't know any different. It's not like we had it. I don't recall ever having it, but Mom was a bit of an anglophile (that acorn didn't fall far from the tree) and so we got a lot of stories about British things. Hyacinth Bucket was her Spirit Animal (IYKYK).

Here's a quick run-down of the differences between Afternoon Tea and High Tea so you don't get it wrong when asking where to get Afternoon Tea.

A graphic explaining afternoon tea

  • Time of day: Afternoon tea is typically served between 4pm and 6pm, while high tea is served later in the evening, around 7pm or 8pm.

  • Food: Afternoon tea consists of light snacks and pastries, such as finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and cakes. High tea, on the other hand, is a more substantial meal, typically including meat, fish, or eggs, as well as breads and desserts.

  • Setting: Afternoon tea is typically served at a low table, while high tea is served at a dining table.

  • Origins: Afternoon tea originated in the 19th century as a social event for the upper class. High tea, on the other hand, originated as a working-class meal.

As you can see, they are two very different experiences. Then, we have "Cream Tea" which is just tea and sweets. It's great for those who don't like salmon or curry or other things traditionally served on tea sandwiches.

London has a variety of afternoon tea experiences from heavily themed to in vehicles to very traditional with even a few walk-in places that don't require reservations like any Cafe Concerto location. Let's break them down and offer you some great places to experience afternoon tea.

Moving Afternoon Tea: Buses, Boats and Bikes?

BUSES: There are a couple of types of Tea bus experiences. One is fun for the girls and the other is going to be one the menfolk won't have a problem with - LOL

  1. This one is more of a refined grown-up experience: Tea Bus

  2. This one is somewhere in between. It's a fun bus, but a more modern bus: Tea Bus

  3. This one is for the girls (okay, there were men on it, too)! It's a classic bus with fun decor. I took my daughter-in-law on this one and we loved it: Tea Bus Some women were wearing hats or facinators and fancy dresses for fun!

BIKES: This one is afternoon tea in a bike pedicab. Shout out to all you quirky people. It has 25 five-star reviews, sooo..... LINK

BOATS: there is really only one boat option. But why not cruise and enjoy tea at the same time? LINK

Okay - this one isn't IN a boat on water, but it's tea in the shadow of the Cutty Sark ship in Greenwich. Does that count? LINK

Fancy Afternoon Tea

This is a very crowded lane. There are SO MANY OPTIONS for fancy afternoon tea. The Ritz. The Savoy. Fortnum and Mason. Harrods. They all have their own afternoon tea. And, pay attention to dress codes when you go fancy. The Ritz requires a coat and tie for men. At best, plan on smart casual dress. Don't pay for a high end experience and show up dressed for the gym. You didn't understand the assignment if you do that 😄

Here are a few options you can easily book, though:

Themed Afternoon Tea

So many themed teas! They can be found many places! They change frequently based on what's in demand right now. I haven't seen a Barbie-themed one, yet. But, I'm sure it's coming! Harry Potter themed teas are ever present, though. Check out this one:

There are so many options for a fun afternoon tea experience in London. Hopefully, you'll find one that fits you!

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