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Ideas for the Perfect Afternoon Tea

There’s something undeniably charming about the tradition of afternoon tea. A quietly, elegant British ritual, it is a delightful way to indulge in life’s little luxuries and enjoy time together with loved ones. During the week dedicated to afternoon tea, Burghley Retirement Living is exploring the tradition of this enjoyable, versatile celebration, in this blog dedicated to the timeless pleasure of afternoon tea.

Read on for the history and benefits of this very British ceremony, as well as ideas for the perfect afternoon tea served in your luxury retirement apartment, or shared with family, neighbours, or out with friends.


The story of afternoon tea traces back to early 19th-century England when Duchess of Bedford, found herself craving a light meal in the afternoon to quell her hunger. At this time, the fashion was to eat just two main meals a day, making the stretch between lunch and dinner a long one. The Duchess began inviting friends to join her for tea, sandwiches, and cake, and soon the custom spread throughout the upper echelons of British society. The tradition of afternoon tea was born.


Since then, afternoon tea has become a British tradition, but it is not merely about sipping tea and quaffing cakes; it’s a ceremony, a refined experience with customs passed down through the ages.

Typically, afternoon tea is served between 3pm and 5pm. A three-tiered stand is laden with dainty finger sandwiches on the bottom, freshly baked scones with clotted cream and jam in the middle, and an assortment of delicate pastries and cakes on the top tier.

The tea? That should be loose leaf, mindfully, lovingly brewed in a China teapot and served in real China cup and saucers.

Should you pour milk or tea first? Well, that is a subject of much debate. The royals, including the late Queen Elizabeth II was firmly on the ‘tea in first’ side of the debate: CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

Whereas, the correct way to make tea according to science is, milk first: CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

Whichever you decide, one of the joys of afternoon tea is undoubtedly savouring a variety of teas. From classic Earl Grey to flavoursome blends of fruit and flowers, each style offers a unique taste and aroma. If you’re hosting an afternoon tea celebration, perhaps in the communal lounge at your Burghley Retirement Living community, why not sample some of the more unique and exotic varieties to add an extra element to your day. Go on – be brave!


A huge positive of afternoon tea as a way to entertain is the versatility of the format. It can be enjoyed by people of all ages from young children right through to those in their retirement.

Your day can be loose and informal or grand and upscaled. For residents in a luxury retirement village such as a Burghley Retirement Living property, it’s easy to find a balance that’s suitable for your afternoon tea event. Make use of the lounge and public spaces if you want to invite neighbours and loved ones or hold a smaller gathering in your own apartment. During the school holidays why not invite the grandchildren over to your luxury retirement village for a special children’s afternoon tea?

Afternoon tea is best enjoyed with friends, family, or even new acquaintances. The shared experience of sipping tea and savouring delectable treats creates a warm atmosphere that fosters connections and laughter. Everything that Burghley Retirement Living stands for.

lemon cake at Burghley Retirement living


There’s absolutely nothing wrong with visiting your local bakery or delicatessen and buying a selection of cakes, pastries, and sandwiches to cater your afternoon tea event. However, if you love to bake yourself, one of the benefits of retirement living is having the time to spend doing the things you enjoy. So, here are just a few ideas of afternoon tea staples that can be easily made at home:

Paul Hollywood’s Lemon Drizzle Traybake

A simple, zingy recipe from the king of baking himself. This tasty lemon traybake takes just 30 minutes to make. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

Rhubarb and Custard Scones

A twist on traditional scones bringing in a very British flavour combination, ideal for those who like to put their own stamp on centuries old recipes. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

Easy Coronation Chicken

A sandwich filling that’s enjoying a renaissance since the King’s Coronation. Whip this up and use as a filling for dainty finger sandwiches or miniature pies. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO


The setting of your afternoon tea plays an essential role in enhancing the experience. If you decide to head out to enjoy the ritual then there are many upscale hotels, historic tearooms, and elegant restaurants where you can sample afternoon tea in grand, opulent, or quaint, traditional surroundings.

Here we’ve selected a few of our favourite venues near to our luxury Burghley Retirement Living communities in Derby, Brighouse, and Thornton-Cleveleys.

Cathedral Quarter Hotel, Derby

Stepping into the grand foyer at this lovingly restored four-star hotel you will be instantly transported to a world of opulence. It’s just a 9-minute drive from Albany Lodge, making it the perfect setting for an elegant afternoon tea for Burghley Retirement Living apartment owners. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

Linden Tea Room, Thornton, Cleveleys

This traditional tearoom offers two options – a traditional afternoon tea and a luxury upgrade that includes a whole selection of extra goodies. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

Crow Nest Park Golf Club, Brighouse

Enjoy delectable treats while taking in the stunning views of Crow Nest Park, you can even enjoy a quick round of golf to work up an appetite. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

So, if you find yourself yearning for a taste of refinement and elegance, treat yourself to the timeless pleasure of afternoon tea. And that isn’t just reserved for Afternoon Tea Week. After all, there’s nothing quite like the experience of indulging in a perfectly brewed cup of tea, savouring sweet delicacies and chatting with friends. What better way to spend any afternoon.

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