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By Laura Fisher
March 08, 2021
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Dear reader: If you haven't been captivated by the decadent, elegant, and pastel-hued world of Regency-era London through the Netflix hit series Bridgerton, get yourself to your couch stat and get ready to be captivated by the dramatic plotlines, lush decor, incredible hair and costume designs, and steamy romances.

One tradition that pervades the whole series is afternoon tea in the signature pale blue drawing room of the show's namesake family, the Bridgertons. While you desperately await the arrival of season two, transport yourself back to a time when coming out as a debutante was as competitive as getting into an Ivy League college (and when ladies' gossip was good as fact) with a proper high tea that even Lady Whistledown wouldn't find fault with. 

A Brief History of High Tea

The trend of having tea and nibbles started in England in the 1700s as a way for the working citizen to have a late-afternoon snack. It was known as "high tea" likely because it was served at high tables. Pretty soon thereafter, the custom caught on and expanded to the higher classes as a lighter meal served around 3 to 4 p.m. It was intended to hold people over between lunch and dinner, which was often served quite late after the theater or other leisurely pastimes. (And no one likes a hangry duchess or duke.) For families like the (fictional) Bridgertons, afternoon tea was typically taken in the drawing room while sitting in low, comfortable chairs. This meal, also sometimes known as afternoon tea to differentiate it from the lower-class iteration, has since become one of Britain's most loved and renowned traditions. 

The Basics of Hosting High Tea

Interested in hosting your own Bridgerton-inspired afternoon tea? Typical tea snacks include scones with butter or clotted cream and marmalade, finger sandwiches—also known as English tea sandwiches, go figure—and a selection of small pastries and cookies (in addition to the tea itself). 

Perhaps just as important as the menu is the mood you set for your afternoon tea. Picture the swoon-worthy blue drawing room of the Bridgerton house—the vibe you're going for is vintage, not musty; elegant, not stuffy; dainty, not fragile. Consider your table settings and decor. This is where you really have the chance to go the extra mile and transport your humble afternoon snack into a high tea worthy of even the Queen herself. Start by checking out our selection of Regency-inspired decor that won't feel out of place in a modern home. Think about adorning your tea room with wisteria vines and fresh flowers. Looking for some smaller touches? Check out our options below to get your tea table suited for the very best English drawing room. And don't be afraid to be bold—Regency-era interiors were opulent and decadent. Now would be a great time to pull out that gold candelabra or your grandmother's lace tablecloth and your best silverware. 

Finally, your guest list. Typically, tea was known as a social event for ladies, while the men were off doing other things. However, modern times call for a revamped inclusionary look at high tea—so gather the most sophisticated members of your pod (or round up your excited kids) and get ready to set the table for a refined snack time.

Everything You Need to Host an Epic Bridgerton High Tea

reasons to drink more tea: varieties of tea
Credit: Getty Images

1
The Tea

Let’s start with the namesake item: The tea itself. Traditional selections for high tea include caffeinated varieties, like Earl Grey, as well as herbals, such as chamomile. Really, you can get creative with whatever you and your crew enjoy. The world of tea is somewhat endless, but be sure to pick a high-quality brew to elevate your experience. 

Orange Lemon Curd Bar
Credit: Greg DuPree

2
The Nibbles

Next, consider the menu. Serve a mix of sweet and savory bites, and once you learn the art of the tea sandwich, you can use your imagination for the fillings. For some traditional high tea delicacies, check out these tried-and-true recipes: 

wayfair-tea-set-bridgerton
Credit: Wayfair

3
A Pretty Vintage-Style Tea Set

$112, wayfair.com

No high tea would be complete without dainty, matching tea accessories. This 11-piece set includes the pot, cups, saucers, and sugar and milk containers—an elegant collection fit for even a Bridgerton. 

home-depot-cake-stand
Credit: Home Depot

4
3-Tiered Serving Stand

$24, homedepot.com

You’ll definitely need an elegant, 3-tiered sandwich and cookie tray to serve up all your tea-worthy snacks. If you want to stick to tradition, place your scones and breads on the top tier, sandwiches on the second tier, and sweets on the bottom.

wayfair-tablecloth-bridgerton
Credit: Wayfair

5
A Lace Tablecloth

$30, wayfair.com

Laying down a lace cloth or table runner sets the tone for the elegant occasion (not to mention protecting your table from wayward tea and crumbs).

bridgerton-napkins
Credit: Sur la Table

6
Vintage Lace Napkins

$25, surlatable.com

Buttered scones and crumbly cookies will leave even the most well-mannered guest in need of a napkin. High tea is no occasion for paper products—bust out your finest linens to make even keeping clean an elegant affair.