Afternoon tea ideas: 8 delicious treats for your summer garden party

From classic bakes to fancy finger food, these afternoon tea ideas are guaranteed to wow party guests

afternoon tea ideas
(Image credit: Future / Jody Stewart)

Looking for afternoon tea ideas? From traditional scones to fancy macarons, these tasty treats are perfect for adding pizzazz to your socially-distanced garden parties this summer. Whether you’re after sweet or savoury, traditional how-granny-used-to-make bakes, or exciting ways to give your afternoon tea a twist, we have all bases covered.

Of course it wouldn’t be afternoon tea without scones, so we’ve shared recipes for both fruit and cheese, along with afternoon tea mainstay bakes: the classic tea loaf and iconic lemon drizzle. For those star bakers out there, why not go one step further and wow guests with some sophisticated Earl Grey macarons or rose and dark chocolate shortbread? You could even trade in the supermarket jam for your very own with our tasty mixed berry jam recipe! 

For more food and recipe ideas, go to our dedicated hub page. But the question is, jam or cream first? Consider yourself an afternoon tea connoisseur? Don’t forget to see how you score in our afternoon tea quiz!

1. Classic scone recipe

Scones topped with plenty of clotted cream and jam are the centrepiece of any afternoon tea party, so here's our ultimate recipe.

Prep time: 30 mins | Baking time: 20 mins | Servings: 12

(Image credit: Future / Jody Stewart)


  • 400g/14oz self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100g/3½oz butter
  •  30g/1oz caster sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 20g sultanas (optional)


1. Line a large baking tray with baking paper and preheat the oven to 200°C/390°F/Gas mark 5.

2. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a large bowl, ensuring that you hold the sieve high above the bowl to get air into the mixture.

3. Cut the butter into small chunks and add to flour mixture before rubbing together with your fingers to make a breadcrumb-like consistency.

4. Add the sugar and mix well. If you want to include other ingredients, such as sultanas, add now and stir until evenly distributed.

5. Add the milk to the mixture, gradually stirring as you go. Continue to stir until the flour soaks up the liquid.

6. Bring the mixture together to make a dough and knead it lightly for roughly two minutes – you don’t want to overwork it.

7. Roll out the dough on a floured surface until it is approximately 2cm thick. Using a pastry cutter approximately 6cm in diameter, cut the dough into circles and place on the lined baking tray. If you end up with spare amounts of dough, roll it out again until all the dough is used. The recipe should make 10-12 scones. 

8. Brush the tops of the scones with the beaten egg to glaze and place the baking
tray into the oven on the middle shelf for 10-20 minutes until golden brown and firm
to the touch.

2. Martha Collinson's triple cheese scones

Of course scones can also be savoury, so to cater for those party guests that have less of a sweet tooth, try this recipe for these super cheesy scones from former Bake Off contestant Martha Collinson and Waitrose – because you can never have too much cheese, right? They can be used with any type of cheese so why not get experimental? Check out this recipe and more in Martha's new book Crave published by HarperCollins.

Prep time: 15 – 20 mins | Baking time: 15 – 17 mins | Makes: 20 small scones

Cheese scones

(Image credit: Waitrose)


  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 75g butter, cold and cubed
  • 75g mature Cheddar, grated
  • 75g Red Leicester, grated, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 50g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
  • 1⁄4 x 25g pack chives, snipped
  • 125ml whole milk
  • 1 medium Waitrose British Blacktail Free Range Egg, beaten


1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6 and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Place the flour into a large bowl and add the cubes of butter. Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the grated cheeses and the chives, and make a well in the centre.

2. Gradually pour the milk into the centre of the well, stirring with a round-bladed knife. A soft, rough dough should form. You may need to add a little more milk to mop up any remaining flour. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead very briefly to smooth it. Overhandling the dough will make your scones tough and flat, so knead as little as possible.

3. Gently roll the dough out to a thickness of around 3cm. Cut into rounds using a 4cm pastry cutter, cutting straight down without twisting, because this prevents the scones from rising properly. Very gently reroll the remaining dough, taking care not to handle it too much, and punch out more scones – you should get 20 in total. Arrange the scones on a baking tray, then brush the tops with a little egg wash and sprinkle with the extra Red Leicester.

4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until risen and golden brown. Serve warm from the oven, split in two, with a generous spread of butter.

3. Mixed berry jam recipe

Jam or cream first? If it tastes good who cares? Follow this recipe from Miele to impress tea party guests with scones topped with your very own mixed berry conserve. 

Prep time: 20 mins | Cooking time: 30 mins 

scones recipe: scones on a plate

(Image credit: Getty Images)


  • 1kg mixed berries (blackberries, currant, raspberries, blueberries, hulled and halved strawberries)
  • 1kg jam sugar
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 vanilla pod, halved and deseeded


1.  Start by sterilising your jars. If you have a Miele Steam Oven, you can do this by placing the jars and the lids upside down on a perforated steam container and sterilising at 100°C for 15 minutes.

2. In the meantime, place the fruit, lemon zest and juice and a third of the sugar in a large saucepan. Use a hand blender to pulse a few times to incorporate everything. Add the remaining sugar and pulse a few more times to break down the fruit a little further.

3. Add the vanilla seeds and pod, give it a stir with a spatula and bring to the boil over a medium high heat.

4. When the mixture reaches boiling point, cook it for a further five minutes and then remove from the heat. Take a little bit of the jam and drop it onto a chilled plate. If it wrinkles when you pass your finger through it, it’s ready. Otherwise, cook it for a further 2 minutes and check the consistency again. Allow to cool for a few minutes before ladling into the sterilised jars and sealing.

5. Alternatively, once the mixture has reached boiling point, you can remove it from the heat and fill up the jars, leaving a small space at the top. Secure them, and cook the jam in a steam oven at 100°C for 20 minutes, leaving the jars inside the steam oven to cool down completely. 

4. Lemon drizzle cake recipe

A truly iconic cake, this sweet, moist sponge is beautifully tart and easy to bake.

Prep time: 10 mins | Baking time: 45 mins | Serves: 10

lemon drizzle cake

(Image credit: Future / Jeremy Phillips)

Ingredients for the cake 

  • 100g/3½oz butter, softened
  • 150g/5oz soft brown sugar
  • Zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
  • 2 eggs
  •  175g/6oz self-raising flour

Ingredients for the drizzle

  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 50g/1¾oz icing sugar

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/ Gas mark 4. Using baking parchment or greaseproof paper, line a 1lb loaf tin, leaving a slight overhang at each end of the tin.

2. Cream the softened butter and sugar together until pale and smooth. Beat in the lemon zest and eggs (if the mixture begins to curdle, add a tablespoon of flour). Then fold in the sifted flour with a metal spoon.

3. Slowly spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and gently level the surface with the back of a spoon.

4. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes until well risen and golden. Leave in the tin then, using a cocktail stick, prick the top of the cake about 20 times – the more you prick it the more moist it will be.

5. To make the lemon drizzle, mix the strained juice from the two lemons with the icing sugar and pour over the top of your sponge. The juice will soak into the cake and leave a crusty, sugary topping.

6. Remove the cake from the tin using the greaseproof paper ends and place on a wire cooling rack.

Cook's tip: For a super moist, tangy cake, make a second batch of icing. Leave it to completely cool, then mix the juice of another lemon with 50g/1¾oz icing sugar to make a thicker drizzle than before. Then pour it over the top. It will further soak into the cake and create a nice lemony iced finish on the top.

5. Earl Grey tea loaf recipe

A traditional English bread made with dried fruits, a tea loaf makes a traditional and nostalgic addition to an afternoon tea party. Serve this Waitrose Earl Grey tea loaf in slices on its own, or spread with butter if you're feeling indulgent! 

Prep time: 10 mins | Baking time: 1 hour 5 mins | Serves: 10

Waitrose tea loaf

(Image credit: Waitrose)


  • 2 x Twinings Earl Grey Tea Bags
  • 250g Waitrose Dried Vine Fruit Mix or Sweet & Tangy Fruit Mix
  • 60g dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 275g plain flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 oranges, 1 finely grated into a zest, 1 kept for decorating
  • 2 Waitrose British Blacktail Large Free Range Eggs, beaten
  • 50g granulated sugar


1. Grease and line a 900g loaf tin and preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4.

2. Place the tea bags in a medium-sized saucepan and pour over 300ml just-boiled water. Turn on the heat and simmer for 2 minutes then lift out and discard the tea bags. Stir in the fruit and muscovado sugar and simmer for another 1 minute then transfer to a large, heatproof mixing bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, mixed spice, salt and grated orange zest.

4. Stir the eggs into the cooling tea mix followed by the dry ingredients. Spoon into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour (until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean).

5. About 20 minutes before the end of baking time, pare the rind of the reserved orange and cut into thin strips. Heat 25g of the granulated sugar in a small saucepan with the juice of 1⁄2 the orange; stir until dissolved. Add the orange strips, leave to cool slightly, then stir in the remaining 25g sugar. Spoon over the cake while still warm in the tin then leave to cool before slicing to serve.

6. Rose and dark chocolate shortbread recipe

Sweet and buttery, shortbread is always guaranteed to go down well with a lovely brew. Rather than opting for plain, why not put a twist on the traditional biscuit with this dark chocolate and dried edible rose petal shortbread recipe from Waitrose?

Prep time: 25 mins plus chilling and cooling | Baking time: 30 mins | Makes: 20

shortbread biscuits

(Image credit: Waitrose)


  • 200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 lemon, zest
  • 1⁄2-1 tsp rose water (rose water can vary in intensity, so add just a little at a time)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g plain flour
  • 2 tbsp Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients dried rose petals, plus extra to decorate
  • 200g dark chocolate


1. Put the butter, sugar, lemon zest, rose water (to taste) and vanilla in a large bowl and, using an electric mixer, beat together for about 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl down and add the flour, a pinch of salt and the rose petals, mixing together briefly until it comes together as a dough. Tip the dough onto the work surface and bring together into a ball. Flatten with your hands, then roll out to a 25cm square; place on a baking tray and chill until firm – about 30 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 170 ̊C, gas mark 3; line 2 baking trays with parchment. Halve the dough, then cut into 2.5cm-thick fingers and pierce all over with a fork.

3. Put the biscuits on the prepared baking trays and bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

4. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and microwave in 30 second bursts until about 3⁄4 of the chocolate has melted. Mix vigorously with a spatula until fully melted (this is a quick method of tempering the chocolate). Dip the shortbread halfway into the chocolate, allow the excess to drip off, then lay on a clean sheet of parchment to set, decorating with a few extra rose petals. Once the chocolate has set, you can store the shortbread in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

7. Earl Grey and strawberry macaron recipe

These light, meringue-based cookies are hugely versatile and will add a touch of French elegance to any tiered cake stand. These Earl Grey macarons are filled with a white chocolate and strawberry ganache but macarons are hugely versatile so you can try all sorts of flavours and fillings. Recipe courtesy of Miele.

Prep time: 30 mins | Baking time; 30 – 40 mins | Makes 10

Macarons/Afternoon tea ideas

(Image credit: Esther Wilhelmsson/Unsplash)

Ingredients for the macarons

  • 170g icing sugar
  • 120g ground almonds
  • 2 Earl Grey tea bags, (tea leaves only)
  • 100g egg whites
  • 70g caster sugar
  • Purple food colouring paste

Ingredients for the white chocolate ganache 

  • 150ml double cream
  • 200g white chocolate
  • Lemon zest
  • 100g strawberry jam, transfer to a piping bag


1. Preheat the oven on a fan setting at 130°C. Line two baking trays with non-stick paper and place a template with 5cm circles under the paper as a guide, if needed. 

2. Blitz the icing sugar, ground almonds and Earl Grey tea leaves in a food processor. 

3. Using an electric hand beater, whisk the egg whites in a large bowl to firm peak stage. 

4. Gradually add the sugar. Once all the sugar has been added, whisk in the colouring to make a light, pastel colour. 

5. Tip half the icing sugar and almond mix into the meringue and gently fold in. Add the rest of the almond mix and fold in until you have a smooth macaron mixture. 

6. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with a 1cm nozzle. Pipe 5 cm discs (either freehand or using the template) on to the non-stick paper. Transfer to a food warming drawer and leave to dry for 10-15 minutes on cup setting, first temperature square (40°C), or until the macarons are dry to touch. 

7. When the macarons are dry, transfer to the preheated oven. Bake at 130°C for 20-25 minutes or until the macarons have lost their 'wobble' from the foot. 

8. For the white chocolate ganache, place the double cream in a small pan and bring to the boil. Put the white chocolate and lemon zest in a large bowl. 

9. Pour the cream over the white chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted. Leave to chill in the fridge, stirring every now and again.  

10. Once cold and thickened, transfer the ganache to a piping bag. 

11. Pipe a circle of ganache around the inside of one macaron shell. Fill the centre with jam then top with another macaron shell. Repeat until all macarons are filled. 

8. Salmon Leed and dill tartlets recipe

Easy to pick up with the fingers and super tasty, these individual salmon tartlets are a brilliant afternoon tea idea. Find out how to make them with this recipe from Waitrose.

Prep time: 15 mins | Cooking time: 10-15 mins | Makes: 36

salmon tartlet recipe

(Image credit: Waitrose)


  • 25g essential Waitrose Unsalted Dairy Butter
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 170ml tub essential Waitrose Double Cream
  • 1 medium Waitrose British Blacktail Free Range Egg
  • 213g can essential Waitrose Wild Red Salmon, drained
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill, plus extra fronds for garnish
  • 2 x 117g packs Waitrose 18 Party Tartlet Cases


1. Preheat the oven to 190°C, gas mark 5. Melt the butter in a small frying pan and add the leek and garlic. Cook over a medium heat for 8–10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

2. Beat the cream and egg together in a medium bowl, then fold in the leek mixture along with the salmon and dill. Divide between the tartlet cases.

3. Sit the tartlets on 2 large baking sheets and bake for 10–15 minutes, or until the filling is just set. Garnish with dill fronds and serve.

Cook’s tip: Change the flavour of these tartlets by swapping the dill for chopped fresh chives, or make a selection of both to serve at your party.

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