Afternoon Tea: A beginner’s guide

Do you like sandwiches?

Do you like your sandwiches served on a plate that’s under a plate of scones that’s under a plate of cakes? If the answer to these questions is absolutely yes, then you’ll love afternoon tea.

Until very recently I was an afternoon tea novice. Now, like everything I do in life, I’ve done it once and think I’m an expert.

Here’s where I chose to have my very first experience:

Top floor of the iconic Baltic Mills on the Gateshead Quays at the restaurant SIX. If you’re going to do something, you might as well do it right eh?

I absolutely loved it.

There were more puddings than I knew what to do with. There should always be more puddings than you know what to do with.

‘I’ve got too many cakes here.’ said no-one ever.

So now, as an afternoon tea expert, I present to you my beginner’s guide. Here’s everything you’ll ever need to know about this time-honoured British tradition:

Make sure you know what type of tea you want

So unsurprisingly, tea is a very important part of afternoon tea.

I had lots of choices. Too many choices. I didn’t have a clue. Here is the tea currently on offer at SIX:

English Breakfast

Earl Grey

Lemongrass and Vanilla

Green Tea

Mint Tea

Red berry


No PG Tips unfortunately, which was quite frustrating. It’s nice is PG tips, nice and strong.

Not my first choice when it comes to tea, I’m a Yorkshire Tea drinker. I’d like to think I’m not the only person shouting ‘Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire’ as I scan it at the checkouts in Sainsbury’s. Sadly, I think I might be.

In the end, we ditched the tea:

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#six #baltic

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That’s better, that’s alcohol.

Argue about the pronunciation of the word scone

Has anyone ever eaten a scone and not had a fight about how it’s pronounced?

‘Do you say scone? Or do you say scone? I say scone. Sometimes I say scone.’

Just eat your bloody scone.

Make it last

If you’re not careful, afternoon tea can be over within the blink of an eye.

Those sandwiches and cakes can be easily wolfed down. Don’t do this, take your time. Make an afternoon of it.

I once went to McDonalds when I was a child. It was a birthday party. This was in the 90’s when you could legitimately have a party at McDonalds. It was all the rage. If you were lucky Ronald McDonald would turn up and give you a lucky bag. I ordered a fillet-o-fish meal. (What kid orders a fillet-o-fish meal? I was a very strange boy.) I ate that meal in about 3 minutes. I looked up at the rest of the party and everyone had barely touched their food. These kids had eaten maybe 1 chicken nugget, a couple of chips. I reluctantly then left a couple of chips so I could pretend to finish at the same time as all the rest of the party. The chips were cold by that time.

Learn from my mistakes.

Don’t be upset about the lack of crusts

There’s no crusts. They cut them off.

I know. It’s madness. Imagine if you went round to someones house and they made you a crust-free sandwich. You’d be fuming, it’s the best bit.

Pretend salmon is a normal thing to eat in a sandwich

If you are struggling with this, here are some key sentences you can use during the meal:

‘Mmm, salmon. What a lovely salmony taste in my mouth.’

‘I love how good this salmon tastes in this bread.’

‘What I enjoy the most about salmon is the taste and texture and smell.’

Afternoon Tea – SIX @ BALTIC, Classic Afternoon tea £16.95, Champagne Afternoon Tea £24.95. To book now call 0191 440 4948 or email