Clotted cream, jam and pointed pinkies: the etiquette of afternoon tea


There are few traditions as cherished by visitors to London than indulging in the decadent yet elegant afternoon tea. However, when served with one, what is the etiquette for eating and drinking its constituent parts…?

Which first – milk or tea?

One of the most burning questions for those new to the afternoon tea is always whether to add tea then milk to a cup or tea or, the other way around, milk then tea. Well, there are advantages to both approaches. Adding tea first (or just a drop of it) enables you to try out a specific tea flavour before committing to a full cup and or flavouring the beverage to your taste. Conversely, adding milk first may, so the thinking goes, offer a better blend of the two liquids once the cup of tea’s fully poured.

Which first – cream or jam?

Another ‘which comes first?’ quandary; this time concerning the topping on those oh-so delicious, freshly baked scones. The cream tea, as it’s called (a scone with cream and jam), was created in either the English county of Devon or across the border in its neighbouring county of Cornwall. Now, Devonians maintain the cream should always be spread first and the jam second, while the Cornish prefer jam first and then clotted cream on top. Whichever you opt for is, let’s be honest, unlikely to offend either county!

Pinkies – out or tucked in?

The last bone of contention concerned with a traditional afternoon tea is far more clear-cut – you should never allow your little finger to stick out while sipping your tea from a cup of delicate bone china. For some reason, over the decades, the idea this is the correct ‘posh’ way of drinking tea from a cup has persisted, but it’s sheer nonsense and merely looks affected and rather silly. Note: afternoon tea’s all about elegance not self-mockery.

So, should you be booking with us at the Park Grand Lancaster Gate in the near future and dying to sample and savour an afternoon tea, just what can you expect? Well, at our accommodation we offer four – yes, that’s right; five – different kinds for you to choose from. It’s our aim to spoil you, indeed…!

Traditional Afternoon Tea

The genuine article; this traditional version comes complete with assorted teas to select from, as well as freshly-made finger sandwiches, scones, tartlets, macaroons, muffins and cream doughnuts.

Chocolate Afternoon Tea

Perfect for those with a sweet tooth, this version’s all about indulgence; in addition to assorted teas finger sandwiches and macaroons, choose between chocolate scones, chocolate Swiss roll, chocolate muffins or a triple chocolate loaf bite, banana and walnut cake.

Champagne Afternoon Tea

Fancy adding a little fizz to your afternoon’s extravagance? If so, this is the afternoon tea for you. Featuring the same menu as the Traditional Afternoon Tea (see above), this version also offers up a chilled glass (or two) of Champagne. Who could say no to some bubbly?

Indian-inspired Afternoon Tea

A unique offering, this version brings more than a touch of the Orient to your one-off treat. Our Indian afternoon tea then adds to the assorted sandwiches a choice between Assam or Darjeeling tea, complimented by Mumbai’s top teatime-snack, the ‘Bombay Aloo Bonda Pav’ – it’s a spiced potato croquette with a crispy texture and sweet and spicy chutneys layers; all of it wrapped up in soft, tasty bread.

Ice Cream Afternoon Tea

Finally, one for all the family, this summertime-suitable offering sees you served up with a classic cream tea (all assorted sandwiches and just-baked scones with clotted cream and jam) along with an irresistible cornucopia of ice cream flavours, cones, an ice cream sundae and even a glass of pink Champagne. (N)ice cold, for sure!