Time for tea.

Afternoon tea is one of life's great pleasures. With Cunard, you'll find it a wonderful daily ritual which can be as lavish or as simple as you like.

‘There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.’ Henry James, Portrait of a Lady

In today’s busy world, there isn’t always much opportunity to indulge in this most refined of customs - but on a Cunard voyage, no such constraints apply.

Here we take a look at how this quintessential British repast first began - and what you can expect when it’s time to enjoy the very best afternoon tea.

An ancient custom.

While tea drinking dates back thousands of years in China, it was only when Catherine of Braganza married King Charles II in 1662 - bringing the precious leaves with her as part of her dowry - that tea consumption among the wealthy classes in Britain was first established.

However, it was almost 200 years before the concept of afternoon tea was introduced by Anna, Duchess of Bedford, who in 1840 required a little sustenance to bridge the gap between lunch and dinner.

She requested that a tray of bread and butter, sweetmeats and a pot of tea be brought to her room in the late afternoon. Soon friends began to join her, and before long afternoon tea became a daily occasion in fashionable society.

Since then the time-honoured menu has evolved to include delicate finger sandwiches and savouries, warm scones with jam and clotted cream, and a selection of irresistible cakes and pastries - all served on fine china with starched linen.

A special treat.

Our ships provide a perfect environment to enjoy the ritual of afternoon tea while on holiday – the beautiful surroundings of the Queens Room, impeccable white-gloved service, and the melodic strains of a string trio or tinkling piano.

While the traditional elements are all present and correct, unique finishing touches and innovations ensure that Cunard’s Afternoon Tea stands out from the teatime crowd.

‘There’s our Cunard Macaron which is red and black, while a specially made branding iron finishes the top of each handmade scone with the ship’s logo,’ says Pastry Development Chef Alex Wibberley.

You could also have the opportunity to enjoy Cunard’s themed Afternoon Teas, such as the Japanese and Alaska Afternoon Teas inspired by these extraordinary destinations. During our Transatlantic Fashion Week event voyage, we offer a very special, fashion-inspired Afternoon Tea menu.

‘It’s this attention to detail that makes the occasion on board so memorable.’

Cunard's recipe book.

Try your hand at baking some of Cunard's best-loved treats at home, with contributions from our executive chefs.

Classic Cunard scone recipe.

Recreate the quintessentially British afternoon tea experience at home with this delicious scone recipe from our Executive Chef, Nick Oldroyd.

Ingredients for 12 scones.

500g plain flour

25g baking powder

125g diced butter

75g caster sugar

4 eggs

125ml whole milk

60g sultanas


◆ Take the flour, baking powder, butter and sugar to breadcrumb stage by either rubbing or using a paddle on a mixer
◆ Add the sultanas, mix again
◆ Add three of the eggs and the milk, and mix well
◆ Pat down on a lightly floured surface until smooth and leave to rest for 5 minutes
◆ Roll out to 2cm thick, turning after each push to even the tension in the dough
◆ Cut the scone mix out and place onto a paper lined tray
◆ Using the final egg, eggwash with the yolk and rest for a further ten minutes
◆ Bake at 180°C for approximately twelve minutes.

Crafting the perfect luxury scone.

Executive Chef Nick Oldroyd provides you with a behind the scenes look at crafting our signature Cunard scone.

Nick's top tip: "The Golden Rule is to not to over work the dough and give sufficient resting time after mixing and forming the scone dough and then again when you have rolled out and cut into the desired shape; about 5 minutes for each stage. Always use egg yolk for glazing as this gives a delightful golden brown crust and a great enriched flavour and end result."

Bakewell muffins.

Closely related to the traditional Bakewell tart, our muffins are the perfect sweet treat to lift the spirits: on a cruise, or at home.

Ingredients for 8 muffins.

150g caster sugar
1 tsp almond essence
1 egg
125g melted butter
165ml Greek yoghurt
200g sifted self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g ground almonds
8 tsp strawberry jam
50g sliced almonds


◆ Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5 / 175 °C / 347 °F and prepare a muffin tin with 8 muffin cases.

◆ In a large bowl, whisk the egg until it becomes light and fluffy then stir in the sugar, almond essence, melted butter, and Greek yogurt.

◆ Gently fold the self-raising flour, baking powder and ground almonds into the wet mixture to form a batter (be careful not to over-beat: fold just enough to bring the ingredients together).

◆ Place the batter into a piping bag, and the strawberry jam in a separate piping bag.

◆ Pipe the batter into the muffin cases until they are half full, then pipe about 1 tsp of strawberry jam into the middle. Continue to pipe the rest of the muffin batter on top until the muffin cases are almost full. Sprinkle the top with sliced almonds.

◆ Place the muffins into an oven for around 20 to 25 mins until golden on top. Leave to cool before decorating.

The finishing touches.

100g butter, softened
200g icing sugar
Dash of almond essence
8 glacé cherries

◆ Place the butter, icing sugar and almond essence in a bowl and whisk until the mixture is light and fluffy.

◆ Once cooled, pipe a rosette of buttercream in the middle of the muffin and top with a glacé cherry.

Take a bite, and enjoy!

Mark's top tip: "Accuracy is key! Make sure that you weigh your ingredients correctly – a batter that’s too wet will not bake correctly and become heavy."

The perfect treat.

Watch our Executive Chef Mark Oldroyd at work, creating the perfect batch of muffins using our exclusive recipe.

Teatime titbits.

Every day across the fleet:

2,000 Afternoon Teas are served.
6,000 cups of tea are poured.
4,000 finger sandwiches are made.
3,000 scones are handmade from scratch.
8,000 linen napkins are laundered and starched.

Afternoon Tea is served daily at 3.30pm on all of our ships.

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