Wanting to throw a classic afternoon tea party but with an added twist of vegan and gluten free extras? Whether it’s a birthday celebration, summer party, or a family get together, tea and cake will always be the answer - plus if you or your guests are avoiding gluten or dairy we can help ensure you all don’t miss out.
Here’s a little bit of history to entertain your guests with…
Afternoon tea has been a popular event since it was coined by the Duchess of Bedford in the 19th Century. Given that dinner was often served late in the evening, afternoon tea bridged the long wait between meals. It began with tea, cake, and bread and butter. However, bread and butter were soon replaced by sandwiches and the list of treats and drinks served at afternoon tea began to grow, although never losing the classics. Afternoon tea has become more luxurious over the years, but its core remains the same – traditional British treats with your loved ones.
We’ve put together a list of easy top tips for organising a wonderful vegan and gluten free afternoon tea that is also sustainable!
Our top tips for Sustainable Afternoon Tea Decor ideas that don’t cost the earth!
Bunting is a classic British summer favourite and depending on how much time you have we’ve got two ideas that might help use up some items lying around the house. You can either have a rummage through the house to find any old skirts, bed lining, or curtains that you can cut up and sew together using some ribbon or binding tape or if time is not on your side why not get arty and cut up some plain craft delivery boxes and do some fun potato printing on them and join them together with coloured twine!
Get saving your glass jars or even ask your family if you can borrow any vases or even teapots! Pop them in the centre of the table and add some dried flowers (we love the range at Atlas Flowers) and they will last until next time as well! If you prefer fresh flowers why not treat yourself to some flowering house plants and decorate the plant pots, that way you can keep on enjoying them and they are a fab environmentally friendly centrepiece.
Afternoon tea stationery
Menus and Place cards are a traditional and chic way to enhance your décor, whilst also adding a personal touch. Use any spare card you have and make your own! Don’t have any spare materials lying around? That’s okay! Try using recycled card and make sure that they’re recycled afterwards.
China teacups are an afternoon tea essential, but what if you’re not looking to buy a brand new set of china for one event? How about a “bring your own teacup” event? This saves you time and money but also means you get to see your guests' personalities through their teacups! It also adds a quirky element to your décor.
If you don’t own lots of teapots why not ask around to see if you can borrow any or to make it more individual why not buy your guests a tea strainer or supply reusable small cotton and muslin mesh tea bags and give some to them to keep as a little party gift and tie it in with a personalised message.
Afternoon tea is more than the tea and cake, it's about creating a whole atmosphere!
Your simple cheats to a vegan and gluten free afternoon tea menu
Cake is the wonderfully sweet addition to afternoon tea. Having a good selection available and making sure there’s something there for all your guests to enjoy is key! Key staples are small sponge-based cakes, mini cheesecakes, and a small pastry. If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to Gluten free and Vegan cakes for your afternoon tea, our Mixed Cake Box offers a variety of flavours and why not introduce some more modern treats such as our brownies. These are all vegan, gluten free, dairy free, and soya free. Also if you are wanting to cater for a large party contact us at [email protected] as we can help.
Again, a good selection of sandwiches is the way to go. We suggest starting with a good base...fresh bread is a winner for any sandwich so why not try your hand at baking at home! There are loads of gluten free and vegan bread recipes out there. We recommend this wonderful gluten free bread recipe by Ally Braegger to make your sandwiches…
Click here for the recipe.
Now you’ve sorted out your gluten free bread it’s all about the filling! Our favourite healthy vegan fillings include classic cucumber or caramelised red onion with vegan “cream cheese” which you can get from most supermarkets or roasted Mediterranean vegetables with red pepper hummus, using a vegan butter. Don’t be afraid to get creative! Have a google and see what ideas you can find. There are loads of vegan cream cheese recipes that are so easy.
You can’t have afternoon tea without scones! If you’re looking for something extra special, we offer vegan and gluten free scones- both classic and fruit; vegan and gluten free scones! Remember to serve your scones warm and with lots of jam and vegan “cream”.
The Jam & Vegan Cream
A good selection of jams means that every guest will be pleased. The hedges are full of blackberries at the moment so why not go picking and make your own? There are loads of vegan healthy recipes online for fruit jams with lower sugar, unrefined sugar, or even no sugar as well as chai seeds thrown in to up your protein. Oh and don’t forget the vegan “cream” (clotted, of course)! We love this recipe for vegan cream by @planteatsandtreats
Click here for the recipe.
Leave jam and cream for your guests to add to their scones themselves (this makes for healthy debate over whether jam should be before cream or vice versa!) and make sure there are lots available!
Vegan and Gluten Free Afternoon Tea Drinks
The tea is the STAR of any afternoon tea! Have a nosy at our following tips on how you can get creative with yours and mix it up a bit quite literally!!
- Teas – loose leaf is best! Herbal teas are great as they’re not only delicious but healthy too! Packed full of antioxidants to fight off disease and infections and protect against stress and anxiety, how can you say no?!
If you want to mix it up a little why not order individual ingredients for your guests to build their own personalised tea. We especially love herbal blends that work on boosting the immune system such as elderberry, ginger and liquorice root, lemon, fresh mint, honey, dried fruits such as apple, peach, strawberries, and raspberries the list goes on! As we’ve mentioned in our Afternoon tea décor tips you could buy them each a tea strainer as an Afternoon tea gift or get the reusable tea bags for them to select certain teas and natural dried flavours and add them to their tea bags to do their own bit of mixology!
While the focus is of course on the tea, we don't want to forget about the bubbles! There are so many champagnes, proseccos, and UK based sparkling wines to choose from. Our favourite fizz is from Camel Valley based in the UK. Take a look at Bird & Blend’s Teallini recipe for a perfect combination of tea and fizz for a special twist.
The teapot is traditionally silver, but we’re looking for sustainable options and our favourite eco-friendly teapot is a cast-iron one. A cast iron teapot will hold heat far better than glass or ceramic which means less energy used to reheat your tea! It’s also worth noting the versatility of a cast iron teapot as it can not only be used for serving but as a kettle too and should last for generations.
Sugars & Milks
Vegan friendly plant based sugars such as agave, maple syrup, unrefined sugar, and xylitol are a great way to add that bit of sweetness. Do consider your vegan plant based milk options, there is such a massive range in the supermarkets now from gluten free oat milk, coconut milk, almond milk, and more to choose from. Keep two or three options readily available for your guests and you are sure to be the hostess of the BEST vegan and gluten free afternoon tea party – as well as being sustainable!