The royal wedding is just around the bend, and if you’re not all caught up in it yet, you’re one of the few stateside who has escaped the excitement about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. If you’ll be tuning in to watch the royal wedding, why not do so over some tea? Though you could absolutely wake up at 4 a.m. (on the East Coast) to watch the pre-wedding festivities, you could also wait until the more civilized hour of 3pm or so, when some stations will be running replays and highlights of the main event. Late-afternoon is, after all, when well-heeled British people traditionally take their afternoon tea. It’s a wonderful custom dating to the 1830s.
Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford, got peckish between lunch and the dreadfully late dinner hour of 7:30. As the tale goes, she would order snacks and tea to her chambers. And thank goodness for the Duchess, who began to invite her friends to join her, cementing a new social trend.
Pro tip if you’re trying to be British about your tea habits: Do bring your best manners, and avoid clunking about as you sip tea and eat snacks. Just don’t call it “high tea,” a reference to working classes who sat at high tables during afternoon tea. (The fancy folk, ironically, sat nearer the earth.) Simply call it “afternoon tea,” and there’s no need to have your pinky out, either. Among those who work for a living, “tea” is now shorthand for “supper.” That tends to come with a big mug of strong, milky, sweet tea.
Do, though, consider snacks. The ideal tea setup has a few savory things, such as the cucumber sandwiches above, as well as sweet options. You’re just trying to curb people’s appetites until supper, after all. Little crustless sandwiches, just as these gorgeous options with salmon mousse, are great to have. But you could also serve this knockout lemon chiffon cake, a tip of the hat to the lemon-elderflower wedding cake on tap for this weekend.
Do be sure to have high-quality tea. Though you could get away with PG Tips in a pinch, it’s comforting to have an excellent option to pour. We are the exclusive carriers of Fortnum & Mason, which has served the royal houses of England for 300 years, and sell their tea commemorating royal weddings, in fact.
Hear “tea,” and immediately the word “scone” follows. Afternoon tea commonly comes alongside scones with jam and clotted cream in the United Kingdom, and although you don’t have to hunt down clotted cream, butter and good jam are a very nice touch.
How delightful is it that Mexico’s wedding cookies are Russia’s tea cakes? Ground almonds spiked with cinnamon comprise these beautiful treats. Just roll them in confectioners sugar before giving them a place of honor on the tea tray. They’re buttery, aromatic, and just the thing to munch on as you watch the royal events unfold.