Tea drinking was popularized in England by Charles II of England and his wife the Portuguese Infanta Catherine de Braganza. It was not until the 1840s that the concept of afternoon tea was introduced by Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford. In the 19th century dinner was often served at 9 in the night. Anna who became hungry requested "some tea, bread and butter and cake". The idea became popular throughout the Edwardian era among the wealthy and elite.

Afternoon tea gave people the chance to show off the best china and table linen. Upscale hotels and restaurants became popular meeting grounds for patrons of afternoon tea.

We have compiled a list of must haves to host the perfect tea party.

Top up your tableware

Afternoon tea is ideal for showcasing your favourite ceramics and glassware, so invest in a beautiful set, or top up your existing one to really wow your guests. The Jenna Clifford's Way Rose collection will not disappoint. The vintage floral collection includes a teapot, cups & saucers and more.

Perhaps you are more whimsical and playful and an Olivia de Art tea set would sit better alongside your home décor. Choose your teapot carefully, as this will be the focal point of your table setting.

Arrival Drinks

Making sure milk and sugar are laid on the table, will help you serve your guests as they arrive. Try to get creative with your beverage menu and offer a variety of tea such as peppermint, liquorice infused, Earl Grey, camomile, other herbal blends and of course, classic English Breakfast Tea.

The Menu

There aren't any rules when it comes to the food, but a standard afternoon tea comprises a tier of sandwiches, a tier of cakes and one of scones or teacakes. However, you could also throw in pastries, petits fours or biscuits.

Delight yourself with this decadent recipe for your next afternoon tea soiree.

Clementine Meringue Tarts
Source: My Favourite Recipes - Sweet Treats

Preparation Time 15 minutes plus cooling | Cooking Time 45 minutes
Calories per portion 161 Kcal | Fat per portion 7.8g | Makes 24

500g shortcrust pastry

For the curd
2 tablespoons cornflour
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Zest and juice of 3 large clementines
175g caster sugar
40g butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten

For the meringue
2 egg whites
75g caster sugar

1. Mix together the cornflour and a little lemon juice in a bowl until smooth. Place in a saucepan with the remaining lemon juice, clementine zest and juice, sugar, butter and eggs. Cook over a low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring, until smooth and thickened. Leave to cool for 2 hours.

2. Preheat the over to 180 °C. Roll the pastry out to 5mm thick and stamp out 24 rounds with a fluted cutter. Press into 2 x 12-hole bun tins. Spoon 1 teaspoon of curd into each case and bake for 10-12 minutes until the pastry is cooked but still pale.

3. Whisk the egg whites with an electric hand whisk until soft peaks form, then whisk in the caster sugar until stiff and glossy. Spoon over the tartlets and bake for 10 minutes until pale golden. Leave to cool for 10 minutes.