English tea sandwiches for serving at your very own High Tea. Don’t forget the scones and clotted cream too!
English tea sandwiches are synonymous with the ever-popular afternoon tea. There are many sandwich varieties, but egg salad and cucumber sandwiches are the most favored.
Afternoon tea, high tea, low tea, whatever you call it there are some key components to this very British dining experience. Tea, of course being the most important, finger sandwiches and a pretty collection of confections like cupcakes, cookies and scones.
The tradition of afternoon tea started in the early 19th Century within the various communities who felt that they needed a little mid-afternoon ‘pick-me-up’.
The upper classes would serve a low tea (the name derived from serving on a low table) where the middle to lower classes and servants opted for high tea around 4 or 5 o’clock (served on a high table). You can learn more about the history and components of afternoon tea with a recipe for clotted cream (traditionally served on scones) in my post, clotted cream for afternoon tea.
Afternoon tea has become so popular over the past few years; it is used as a theme for many events like bridal and baby showers.
It is also popular around the world with many of the finer hotels that offer afternoon tea, which can be a fun dining event to incorporate into a vacation.
As simple as they look, there are a few key requirements when it comes the tea sandwiches. There are no crusts allowed. This gives the sandwiches an elegant look and also makes them more dainty and easier to eat with your fingers.
Another rule is butter; just plain old butter is required. England has some of the best butter in the world that is creamy and richer than most, so it does add a tasty element to the sandwiches. In addition to the flavor, it also acts as glue to keep the filling in place, like in the case of the cucumber sandwiches.
Lastly, there are three shapes allowed, triangle and rectangle, or if you’re a royal, in small squares.