A Beginner’s Guide to Afternoon Tea




Legend has it that afternoon tea was invented in the mid-1800s but the Duchess of Bedford in England. Kerosene lamps had just been invented, making a late dinner (around 8 or 9 p.m.) very fashionable, but the trend left the dinner guests hungry for most of the day. The Duchess began inviting her friends over for light bites and tea in the afternoons to stave off fatigue, and thus a tradition was born.

We’re long past the era of kerosene lamps, but afternoon tea is still popular in England and beyond. A typical afternoon tea menu typically consists of a pot of tea and a variety of scones, finger sandwiches, and sweets. The whole experience is highly interactive, but we’ve come up with a few tips to give you the most magical tea experience possible.

  • Dress for the occasion. While we certainly don’t enforce a dress code at the Cottage, you’ll probably want to post an enviable picture of you and your treat tower on Instagram. So put on your favorite dress and get ready to impress, both online and off. Don’t forget to tag us @thecottageinbluffton in your posts!
  • Know how to take your tea. Getting acquainted with afternoon tea etiquette will make you feel like you’re in a scene from Downton Abbey. Hold your teacup by lacing your thumb and index finger through the handle, then support the bottom of the cup with your middle finger. Always bring the cup up to your lips, and avoid blowing on it. If it needs more time to cool off, that’s the perfect excuse to order a glass of champagne.
  • Try all of your treats. Each sandwich and sweet adds another layer of flavor – and enjoyment – to your afternoon tea. You don’t need to start from the bottom of your tower and work your way up. Begin at any level and try all of the treats!

Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or a day out on the town, afternoon tea at The Cottage is sure to create a lasting memory of your time spent with someone special. Our tea options include:

  • Cream Tea. Includes fresh-baked scones, fresh fruit, and a pot of tea.
  • Light Afternoon Tea. Includes fresh-baked scones, a variety of sweets and treats, fresh fruit, and a pot of tea.
  • Full Cottage Tea. Includes assorted finger sandwiches, fresh-baked scones, a variety of sweets and treats, fresh fruit, and a pot of tea.
  • Children’s Tea. For kids 10 and under. Includes kid-friendly sandwiches, fresh-baked cookies and treats, and your choice of a pot of tea, hot chocolate, lemonade, or soda.

If you’re planning on joining us for afternoon tea, please call ahead as reservations are required. We’re excited to present you with a tea experience unlike any other!