Tea time

afternoon tea london

Afternoon tea has become one of the most popular British pastimes of late, with TV shows such as the Great British Bake Off encouraging us to partake in this quintessential tradition. But are you aware of afternoon tea etiquette? At the Grand Royale Hotel London, we know a thing or two about afternoon tea and are on hand to help you become an afternoon tea master.

Afternoon Tea


Let’s start with the dress code. Although every place will have different standards, if you want to go all in and look the part while you’re sampling some of the finest nibbles in the area, you’ll want to heed our advice.

Most afternoon tea venues have a relaxed ‘smart casual’ dress code for afternoon tea. Men don’t need to wear a jacket, tie and shoes – unless of course it is specified – just steer clear of trainers and caps. Most gentlemen instead prefer to wear a collared shirt and smart jeans or trousers. It’s also important to wear clean shoes.

Ladies on the other hand may prefer to dress up a little bit. Whether it’s putting on a new skirt, going all-out in a dress, or even just popping on a pair of heels, you’ll often spot a lady looking a little more glamourous than usual at afternoon tea.


The next port of call is the tea itself. People often have a myriad of questions when it comes to their tea, so we aim to answer all your queries.

How long should I let my tea brew?

Your personal tastes and the type of tea requested will dictate how long you should leave your brew, to well, brew. Traditional teas, such as afternoon, earl grey, and royal blend will usually be ready to drink after around five minutes. Creating a warming taste that will sit on the palette and draw through the flavours of the leaf, a decent brewing time will ensure the perfect blend. Herbal teas on the other hand, which have become increasingly more popular at afternoon tea, generally don’t require quite as long to get the perfect flavour. Between two and four minutes is usually sufficient to get the detoxifying essences.

Can I dunk biscuits in my tea?

This may be a favourite pastime in UK homes, but when you’re out and about enjoying a fine afternoon tea, we suggest you keep the biscuits away from your cup.

What flavour of tea should I drink?

With hundreds of varieties of tea available, the choice really is yours. Traditional English tea is the norm with afternoon tea, but as mentioned above, herbal teas have become common for those wanting to add a different flavour to their meal. Whichever type of tea you decide on, we always recommend you choose loose or leaf tea to enhance the flavour of your food.

Should I add milk to the tea, or tea to the milk?

A hot topic amongst tea drinkers. Putting milk in first is said to offer up a better combination of the liquids initially, while also protecting the delicate china from the boiling liquid. However those who prefer to add milk to their tea do so because they know exactly how much they need to add to give it the perfect colour.

Jam or cream, cream or jam?

It’s not afternoon tea without freshly baked scones. And it’s not afternoon tea without this debate. Everyone has their own opinion, but to set the record straight, the Devon tradition is to add cream first with jam spread on top. The Cornish tradition on the other hand is to spread the jam on the scone, and top it off with a dollop of cream. Whichever you prefer, we’re sure it’ll taste delicious!

So there you go; the most common afternoon tea queries answered to help you carry yourself with decorum at all times. If you’re looking for the perfect spot for afternoon tea, look no further than the Grand Royale Hotel London. One of the best London restaurants, we specialise in flavoursome food from dawn until dusk, with afternoon tea a speciality.