During this very strange holiday season, when many of us are isolated from loved ones, there’s some small comfort to be found by escaping to worlds where tea is taken regularly. Of course, Downton Abbey and The Crown are iconic favorites, but that’s just making a start! Brew your tea, don your cozy pj’s, wrap yourself in your favorite soft throw, and journey overseas and/or back in time in these British series, where you’ll likely hear someone saying, “Shall I put the kettle on?”
5 Seasons – Netflix, Amazon
Set in present-day England, the show centers on two 1950s sweethearts who, now widowed, reunite in their golden years to rekindle their romance. Between their two families, there is plenty of drama to go around, and secrets don’t stay secrets for long as each character’s story unfolds. This series may win the award for most cups of tea served in an episode as it seems someone is always pouring a cup, and we must thank the props team for assembling a wonderful array of teapots for us to admire.
Caroline: Maybe when we’ve found the kettle, maybe then.– Last Tango in Halifax, S3E7
Alan: We’ve got ours! It’s always the last to pack; first thing to unpack. First rule of flitting: knowing where kettle is.“
2 Seasons – BritBox on Amazon
Cranford is a sweet and at times hilarious period series, set in a small Northern English town of the 1840s (when afternoon tea was born), with a delightful star-studded ensemble cast, including Judi Dench (yes!). In fact, it is her character who falls on hard times and finally decides to open a shop selling tea in her parlor to support herself. It takes little more than a newcomer to town to set all of Cranford abuzz, and it is that idyllic innocence that warms the heart with thoughts of simpler times.
5 Seasons and Running, Amazon
Both James Norton and Tom Brittney — who play the lead role in Seasons 1-3 and 3-6 respectively — are easy on the eyes, playing the vicar-cum-detective in this murder mystery series set in a 1950s English hamlet. Based on the novels by James Runcie, the stories take place in Granchester — an actual Cambridge village dating back to medieval times — where the renowned Orchard Tea Garden has been serving afternoon tea for more than 120 years.
4 Seasons, Amazon
In 1909 London, American retail tycoon Mr. Selfridge (played by Jeremy Piven), comes to town to dazzle the world by opening one of the finest department stores, replete with a palm court of course, and eventually a tea salon selling Mariage Frères teas. Taking place during the heyday of the palm court, naturally this series sees many of its characters taking tea together and angling to reserve much-sought-after afternoon teatimes at Selfridges. Because this drama is based on a true story, it is actually possible, one century later, to reenact the afternoon tea experience at Selfridges’ London store, where afternoon tea is still served today. So cool.
1 Season and Running, Netflix
True to the Julia Quinn romance novels on which it is based, you may find the storyline of newly released Bridgerton a bit drawn-out, as it intentionally prolongs the characters’ yearning, and should know to expect unabashed R-rated sex scenes. However, upon hearing Julie Andrews voice the opening narration, how can you not be hooked? Set in 1813 London, the show precedes the advent of afternoon tea (though we spy several tiered tea trays that seem to exist before their time in Gunter’s Tea Shop). We do appreciate that this real-world 150-year iconic confectionary became the backdrop for several Bridgerton scenes, which are appointed with a visual feast of dazzling costumes and beautiful teacups throughout the series. Part of the fun is guessing the contemporary pop songs played by string quartets throughout the series – enjoy!
Tell Us, Which Is Your Favorite?
We hope you’ll enjoy our recommendations, and share some of your own with us. Drop a comment with your favorite series in which the teacup plays a leading role. And happy watching!