How to Host: Irish Afternoon Tea

Irish Afternoon Tea how to host by Destination Tea

Whenever we are asked about our favorite afternoon tea experiences, we often think of our visit to Ireland, where the menus highlighted local, fresh ingredients and the historic afternoon tea venues felt cinematic. For Destination Tea’s new Irish Afternoon Tea party guide, we take inspiration from our afternoon teas in Irish castles and manors, along with expert tea pairing advice from Teresa Michaelson of Herbs Make Scents, a Massachusetts tea company.

exterior Dromoland Castle in County Clare, Ireland
One of the best afternoon teas we’ve ever experienced was at Dromoland Castle in County Clare, Ireland

A seasoned expert in tea, aromatherapy, and herbalism, “Teresa the Tearista” (as her husband calls her) began her tea journey with cherished memories of sipping tea with her grandmother in Boston. In fact, this past December marked the 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, which makes this a perfect time to highlight an Irish Afternoon Tea, because the Port of Boston was a major immigration hub for 19th century Irish immigrants. By 1850 (the heyday of afternoon tea), the Irish comprised the largest ethnic group in Boston, and still do today. As Teresa teaches in her classes,

The Irish immigrants played a significant role in shaping Boston’s tea culture, bringing with them their love for tea and helping to establish it as a popular beverage in the city. Many Irish immigrants worked as domestic servants, serving tea to their employers, while others became involved in the tea trade, shaping Boston’s commercial landscape. Their contributions have left a lasting impact on Boston’s tea culture, which continues to thrive today.”

Terri Michaelson of Herbs Make Scents hosts classes, tea tastings and trips.
View December 2023’s full reenactments here, including the Faneuil Hall speeches from 1773 as well as the Centennial and Bicentennial Commemorations, each addressing the pressing needs of their time.

Notes on Using Destination Tea to Plan Your Tea Party

Destination Tea's Tea Party Planner with shopping list for afternoon tea
Destination Tea's Tea Party Planner with shopping list for afternoon tea

Here’s how we suggest using our resources:

  1. Print out a front-and-back copy of Destination Tea’s Tea Party Planner.
  2. As you browse The Scene, Tea Selection, Tea Sandwiches, Scones and Sweets ideas in our Irish Afternoon Tea Pinterest board, choose which items you’ll have at your tea party, and fill in the related sections of your Tea Party Planner, adding needed items and ingredients to your Shopping List.
  3. Bookmark, pin or print any recipes you like from the Irish Afternoon Tea Pinterest board, and have fun making your preparations!

Setting the Scene? That’s Everything!

An Irish Afternoon Tea must of course be full of green, as a nod to the island known as the “Emerald Isle”:

Arm of Erin, be strong! but be gentle as brave,
And uplifted to strike, be still ready to save,
Let no feeling of vengeance presume to defile
The cause of, or men of, the Emerald Isle.”

– Excerpted from “When Erin First Rose” by William Drennan, 1795
green and white teacup at Irish afternoon tea
Photo Credit: The Cheeky Teacup

In The Scene board, you’ll find inspiration for creative touches that will make your Irish Afternoon Tea special, such as porcelain by famed Irish pottery houses Belleek and Royal Tara, Galway crystal candlesticks, and teapot cozies knit in the renowned Aran sweater patterns (historic patterns knitted in The Aran Islands off the West coast of Ireland). Pick and choose your favorites, which you can add to “The Scene” section of your Tea Party Planner, including:

  • Tablescape/Decor/Music:
    • Celtic Instrumental Music
    • Irish Blessing
    • Belleek Castle Vase
    • Galway Crystal Candlesticks
    • Classic Linen Table Runner
    • Celtic Knot Linen Tea Napkins
    • Claddagh Napkin Rings
  • Teaware:
    • Aran Teapot Cozy
    • Galway Crystal Champagne Coupes
    • Royal Tara Irish Shamrock Teapots
    • Vintage Belleek Limpet Shell Teapot and Teacups
    • Belleek Harp Shamrock Teacup
    • Shamrock Cream & Sugar
    • Aynsley Rose Ceramic Teaspoons
  • Favors:
    • Green Lucky Shamrock Bulbs with Shamrock Drawstring Bags
    • Belleek Mini Vases
    • Celtic Cross / Irish Blessing Tokens
  • Activities:
    • Irish Trivia Sheet
    • Discovering Ireland Board Game
    • Irish Proverbs Game Sheet

The Menu: Irish Afternoon Tea, featuring Herbs Make Scents teas

Beyond our personal experience of afternoon tea in Ireland, we also pulled inspiration from afternoon tea menus at a dozen of the most famous Irish afternoon tea venues. As the best afternoon teas typically do, your Irish afternoon tea should feature farm-fresh ingredients whenever possible. In Ireland, it is common for afternoon tea menus to proudly display the region that produced their specialty ingredients.

The Cheeky Teacup hosts an Irish afternoon tea
Photo Credit: The Cheeky Teacup

Selecting Your Teas [Tea Pairings by Herbs Make Scents]

Herbs Make Scents provides loose leaf, organic, fair trade teas to tea rooms, restaurants, small shops, grocery stores, and tea drinkers. Owner Teresa has collaborated with her local beekeeper and chocolate artisan to craft customized tea blends. Today, she lends us her experience consulting for tea rooms and restaurants on tea and food pairings, suggesting a particular tea for each menu item. Of course, at an afternoon tea, typically two or three teas are enjoyed throughout, so you’ll have plenty of options from which to pick and choose for the Tea section of your Tea Party Planner. Teresa has taken the time to describe exactly how each tea will complement each menu item (see below).

herbs make scents blends organic loose leaf teas

Tea Sandwiches / Savories

The Irish presentation of afternoon tea does not skimp on quality ingredients. Choose less processed, fresh ingredients to make this afternoon tea authentically Irish, for example, using thinly sliced roasted or baked meats rather than grocery deli cold cuts. We’ve pinned a link to Kerrygold butter, made in Ireland, and recipes for the following:

  • Irish Egg and Mayo Tea Sandwiches – Jasmine Tea
    (This lightly floral green tea pairs well with this rich egg sandwich because its grassy and floral notes, as well as a slight astringency, will help cleanse the palate between bites.)
  • Smoked Salmon on Irish Guiness Brown Bread – Peach Noir Tea
    (Sweet peach flavor complements the savory salmon, while robust black tea stands up to the rich brown bread.)
  • Baked Ham and Irish Cheddar Tea Sandwich – Cranberry Apple Tea
    (The ham and cheddar cheese flavors complement the sweet and tart notes of this fruity tea for a refreshing contrast to the sandwich’s richness)
  • Roast Tarragon Chicken and Lemon Mayo Tea Sandwich – Sunshine Lemon
    (Beautifully balanced lemon and ginger perfectly complement the creamy mayo while harmonizing with the peppery tarragon in the chicken.)
  • Corned Beef and Cabbage Tea Sandwiches – Toffee Pu-erh
    (Rich, earthy pu-erh with hints of toffee sweetness perfectly complement the hearty flavors of this sandwich.)
  • Beef and Horseradish Tea Sandwich
Irish egg and mayo tea sandwich by The Cheeky Teacup
Atlanta caterer The Cheeky Teacup uses some of these recipes in their new Irish Afternoon Tea – and the Irish Egg and Mayo Tea Sandwich is delicious!
Photo Credit: The Cheeky Teacup

Scones & Spreads

Adare Manor in Ireland is famous for its scones, and we were lucky to find a video demonstrating the hotel’s recipe, which you can divide in half to have some with raisins and some plain. We also include a cups-to-grams converter to help translate these recipes.

  • Fruit and Plain Scones by Adare Manor in County Limerick – L.O.V.E. Tea
    (The delightful harmony of lavender, orange, vanilla and Earl Grey perfectly enhances these scones, creating a symphony of citrusy brightness, soothing floral essence and comforting sweetness.)
  • Irish Soda Scones – Irish Blend
    (This robust and full-bodied tea blend of Assam and Ceylon, upholds tradition by serving as a classic and timeless companion to Irish soda scones, honoring the rich heritage and culinary customs of tea pairing.)
  • Irish Tea Bread – Chai Rooibos
    (Warm and spicy notes from this blend of cinnamon, cardamom and cloves creates an intriguing and comforting sensation that complements the subtle sweetness of the bread.)
  • Homemade Clotted Cream
  • Raspberry Jam made in Ireland
Irish Afternoon Tea by The Cheeky Teacup
The Cheeky Teacup served the Adare Manor scone recipe with clotted cream and fig preserves, on a low table decorated in green and white.


What’s for dessert? We culled recipes from Irish newspapers and high-end hotels to incorporate popular Irish flavors and products, from elderflowers to seaweed (Carrageen Moss is collected off the southwest coast of Ireland). Remember that while Bailey’s may be best known in the United States, there are a variety of cream liquors imported from Ireland that you may want to explore for your cheesecake recipes, (or to splash in your tea).

  • Elderflower Rhubarb Fool – Jasmine Tea
    (Floral jasmine aroma enhances the elderflower in the dessert, while green tea refreshes the palate and balances the tartness of the rhubarb for a smooth pairing.)
  • Irish Whiskey Truffles – L.O.V.E.
    (Blended with a complex profile of creamy tea with citrus and lavendar notes, this black tea adds an extra layer of richness and depth to the indulgent whiskey-infused truffles.)
  • Pavlova with Berries – Heart and Flowers
    (Green tea with raspberry and hibiscus has a refreshing, fruity flavor profile that complements this classic dessert.)
  • Ballymaloe’s Carrageen Moss Pudding – Irish Blend
    (In Ireland, Carrageen moss pudding is traditionally enjoyed with Irish black tea, much like this robust and full-bodied tea, to complement the creamy texture and subtle sweetness of the pudding.)
  • Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes – Orange Spice
    (The tea’s zesty citrus and warm spices perfectly complement the rich chocolate flavors of the cupcake, harmonizing for an indulgent taste sensation)
  • Irish Coffee Cheesecake Squares – Peach Veil
  • Mini Baileys Basque Cheesecakes – Peach Veil
    (For either cheesecake recipe, the delicate notes of white tea, complemented by the sweet and juicy flavor of peach, harmonizes with the rich, creamy texture of this dessert.)
mini bailey's cheesecakes and irish tea cake by The Cheeky Teacup at afternoon tea
The Cheeky Teacup created a beautiful, creamy rendition of the Mini Baileys Basque Cheesecakes, topped with a drop of Five Farms Irish Cream Liqueur made in County Cork, Ireland.

Let’s Get Started Planning Your Irish Afternoon Tea

If you recommend a delicious treat, tea or fun Irish Afternoon Tea themed party game, please let us know in the comments, and thank you! Click on the pinboard below to delve into our suggestions for your Irish Afternoon Tea and happy party planning!

[Note: This is a sponsored blog post.]

Tea Voyageuse, discovering the world of afternoon tea, based in Atlanta, Georgia.

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