How to Set Up a Table for Afternoon Tea

How to Set Up a Table for Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea is a truly English tradition and has increased in popularity since its conception in mid-nineteenth century upper-class society. The way the table is organised and laid out sets the mood for the rest of the meal so it’s important the tableware and table linen are of high quality. From where to put the cutlery to matching up your table linen, here are some tips for a suitable afternoon tea table layout.

The Tradition of Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea came about in the mid-nineteenth century when kerosene lamps became available to wealthier households. This made eating dinner at a later time more fashionable, bringing with it the need for light afternoon tea to keep from getting too hungry through the day.


Afternoon teas usually consist of light bites like scones and finger sandwiches. They’re often accompanied by hot drinks like black or herbal teas and there’s an expectation for high-quality tableware and table linen too.



It’s important that you provide your guests with the correct range of tableware. The iconic piece of tableware for this meal is a layered tea stand, usually of three circular platforms that decrease in size as they progress toward the top. Depending on what’s being served, you may wish to have serving utensils alongside the tea stand.


As hot drinks are an important component of afternoon tea, you’ll also need a good-quality teapot along with teacups, saucers, and teaspoons. Similarly, you’ll want to make sure the cutlery is up to standard and laid out properly, with knives to the right of the plate, forks to the left, and spoons to the top. These need to be in the order that they’re going to be used from the outside to the inside.


Table Linen

A sometimes overlooked but very crucial part of setting up for an afternoon tea is to have table linen that reflects the class of your establishment. To do this, you’ll want to make sure your serviettes match your tablecloths. If you choose to have your linen organised and washed by a professional service like London Linen, it’s a great idea to match the colours of your brand with that of the table linen. Small touches like this make the customer’s experience that bit more special and they’ll feel like they’re getting what they’re paying for.


You’ll also want to match this with your staff’s uniform. From chef whites to the server’s apron, ensuring that the colours and styles of these pieces of uniform are compatible will make your business stand out.


Here at London Linen, we can manage your linen for you, whether it’s uniforms, serviettes, towels, or anything in between. If you have any questions about our services then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us by calling 020 8574 5569 today!


Published on: Jan 06, 2022

Quote Enquiry

Contact us today to make an enquiry about kitchen linen hire in London or restaurant and table linens services. As the most reliable dry cleaning services in London, we can help you achieve your best.

Phone 020 8574 5569 Email Get a quote

Change today. Change the future.


learn more