Tips for In-Flight Afternoon Tea Service

Traditional Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea has been a highly-popular tradition in England for generations. However, recently its popularity has been on the increase worldwide. Afternoon Tea is often found on the inflight menus of corporate jets and is a firm favourite among some passengers. Let’s explore afternoon tea andits origins.

History of Afternoon Tea

During the early 19th-century, drinking tea in England had become popular with the elite and wealthy members of society. The 7th Duchess of Bedford is said to have complained of “having that sinking feeling” later in the afternoon. At that time, most people only ate two meals a day:  breakfast and dinner. The Duchess’s solution was to have a pot of tea and a light snack served to her in her quarters during the afternoon. She invited her friends to join her, and this became a daily social event. This gathering became so popular that, before long, all of fashionable society followed. This light meal came to be known as “afternoon tea.”

Traditional afternoon tea menu

While there are no set rules about the content of a traditional afternoon tea menu, it usually consists of sandwiches, savouries and sweet items. Afternoon tea accompaniments are typically served on a stand and can include:

  • Bottom – A selection of freshly-prepared finger sandwiches and savouries.
  • Middle – Warm scones with clotted cream and preserves.
  • Top – A variety of homemade cakes and pastries.
  • A range of teas.

Types of sandwiches served with afternoon tea

There is a classic selection of sandwiches served with afternoon tea. However, these are just a suggestion and can be changed to suit your passengers’ tastes.

  • Cucumber
  • Egg mayonnaise with cress
  • Smoked salmon with cream cheese
  • Coronation chicken
  • Ham and mustard

Types of tea served

The range of teas offered can vary. However, some common tea varieties served include:

  • Assam – a black tea from Assam, India.
  • Darjeeling – a black tea from West Bengal, India.
  • Earl Grey – a blend of black tea and oil of bergamot.
  • Lapsang Souchong – a black tea from the Wuyi region of China.

Cream tea and Champagne tea

  • Cream tea consists of cream scones, pastries and tea. However, the savouries are omitted.
  • Champagne tea is very modern concept. A glass of Champagne may be offered to accompany the afternoon tea.


If you have any questions about this article, contact Yasmin Milner at

This is an article by guest author Yasmin Milner of Corporate Flight Training. Yasmin is based in the United Kingdom and is an industry expert in corporate aviation. Any thoughts expressed in this article are entirely Yasmin’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Air Culinaire Worldwide.

If you would like to be considered for becoming a guest author, please contact


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