Cups of History: Afternoon Tea Nostalgia


Cream tea in the garden fills me with nostalgia, bringing back layers of memories of teas shared over the years with some of my favorite people. I love to serve the tea itself in bone china cups passed down to me from my Grandmother. Sipping from the delicate lips of these cups always leaves me wondering about all the people from my past, and from beyond my past, who sat and sipped tea. Our lips meet on the rim of the china cup, bridging the yawning gap of time passed.

The tea, which is always loose leaf, is poured from a tea-pot which my mother gave me when I moved into my first flat as an undergraduate student, many, many moons ago. Served alongside, on china side plates are fruit scones, with lashings of clotted cream, topped with strawberry jam. The traditional components cannot be improved, it’s a winning combination proved over time.

I will usually have filled jam jars with fresh flowers from the garden, and if it’s a party I might have tied balloons to the gate to welcome the guests. If it’s a very special occasion I might even have posted invitations, just as my Granny used to do. There is something utterly delightful about a handwritten invitation arriving by post, that makes me very nostalgic.

Taking the time to make and serve tea in this way slows us down to a pace of life which nourishes and soothes. Enjoying all of the tiny details and sensations turns afternoon tea into a ritual of nostalgia. It opens us to the full delights and flavours of the whole experience, and at the same time takes us back into the golden years of memory. Unrushed we can unfold into the layers around us, stilling our busy minds for just a few hours. There’s nothing else to be done on an afternoon like this, other than enjoy the tea, and the warm sunshine.

Find more Nostalgia inspired posts at the Weekly Photo Challenge.

About greenmackenzie

Hi, I'm Seonaid, and I share my home on the shores of Loch Ness deep in the Scottish Highlands with my husband, my son and a couple of dogs. I love art which is here now and gone food and nature...but also have a passion for vintage and the ancient past! Nature is my favourite muse, with her wild ever shifting seasons. I have been using and teaching mindfulness and relaxation for over 12 years, and have yet to become any sort of expert :-) I'm a Psychotherapist and Cancer Support Specialist in Maggies Highlands
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55 Responses to Cups of History: Afternoon Tea Nostalgia

  1. Pingback: Photography and Free Verse: Nostalgia | Bastet and Sekhmet

  2. Juliann says:

    Please invite me over for tea. Please invite me over for tea. ๐Ÿ˜‰ oh, how I wish! It looks like the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

  3. wildsherkin says:

    Although I am a little geographically challenged, I’m with you in spirit! What delightful images (and words). ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Su Leslie says:

    I’m a “mug the size of a bucket” sort of tea drinker, so it was a challenge for me recently to “take tea” in a more civilised way with a friend. I enjoyed it very much, and your photos have reminded me how lovely it is to drink properly drawn tea from nice cups. Don’t think it will change my daily tea habits, but a welcome change. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Oh me too normally, but sometimes it’s nice to take the time to share the ritual of tea from fine bone china. It does mean fairly constant top ups, but its wonderful as a treat ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Su Leslie says:

        I agree. When I was a child, tea drinking was much more of a ceremony than it is now, so it’s lovely to see tea shops springing up around the place. I went to one in Wellington called Martha’s Kitchen that was just an absolute delight. Really good tea, fab scones and the most amazingly funky, retro ambience. I’m hoping it has survived the quakes unscathed. I noticed on the news this morning that the street it is in has closed while they inspect the buildings. It’s in an old wooden place, so structurally it will be fine, but I’d hate to think of all the lovely delicate china getting broken.

  5. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgic | Denis Danze Photographe Freelance

  6. londoncab53 says:

    Oh how I miss this!
    My husbands aunt came to visit once and noticed that I actually use my teapots to make tea. She looked at me and said “I bought a tea set when I was in London about 15 years ago and I never used it. I’m going to send it on to you”. I didn’t think she would actually send it, but about 3 weeks later a huge box arrived and it was a pure white Wedgewood set. I couldn’t believe it,
    I just kept opening bubble wraps and ended with the teapot, 4 demi cups and saucers, 4 regular cups and saucers and the creamer and sugar. I was so stunned I had to throw an afternoon tea.
    I discovered two things:
    One, you really can’t duplicate an English tea here in the states
    Two, the bone china is really the best vehicle for tea!
    Thank you for sharing your family tea with us!

  7. kz says:

    wow this looks so delightful! wish i could go to a tea party like this every afternoon ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. colonialist says:

    Tea al fresco! Lovely.
    That is a remarkably liger-marked kitty.

  9. shirtang says:

    Great post and pictures!! Reminds me of the Sunday afternoon tea parties my friend and I would have in high school! Everyone thought we were strange, but we knew better ๐Ÿ˜›

  10. Mary Mageau says:

    There’s nothing more delightful than sharing the ritual of afternoon tea with friends and loved ones. All those lovely touches: fine china, fragrant tea (in a pot), something light and delicious to accompany (I love small ribbon sandwiches) contribute to the event. Thankfully taking tea is coming back again. Hooray – Civilization!!

  11. A beautiful post! Tea is at its best in a fine delicate porcelain cup! No glass cup or mug for me!

  12. emmachan24 says:

    I love your picture,, ^_^

  13. frizztext says:

    hi Seonaid,
    you made me smile with your cat portrait:
    they know how to celebrate a fine day too!

    • Oh they certainly do :-)….one of my cats is quite shy and would never be seen at such a gathering of people, the other Schmernoff the Bengal is very gregarious and takes his rightful place easily. I’m certain he thinks he’s actually a person…..

  14. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgic | blogagaini

  15. Pingback: Photography and Poetry: Nostalgia | Bastet and Sekhmet

  16. The tea tradition was our “Kaffeeklatsch” in Germany – always during mid-afternoon with some home-made pie, tart, or cake and a generous heaping of freshly made whipped cream…Looking forward to Scottish teatime….

    • That sounds delicious and surprisingly similar to a cream tea over here. I guess the elements of tea and sweet cake with cream are unbeatable wherever we are ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m sure you will find some lovely cream teas to sample on your Scottish visit.
      Breakfast tea with marmalade is another brilliant classic combination….I’m just off to make some toast now…

  17. Tina Schell says:

    What a lovely post Seonaid, I could almost smell and taste the tea! Such a nice tradition. Well done.

  18. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgia on the Brain | Brouhaha Access

  19. Gilraen says:

    Just for a little while it seems that paradise does exist. Yes I know how that feels and I would love to have a teapot and cups like yours. However I fear they would not survive too long in my life and garden *sigh*

    • They are probably more robust than they look….I have lost countless mugs to breakage over the years…..but so far no bone china. They knew how to make things to last in the past ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgic (Valletta) | What's (in) the picture?

  21. Here in the States I think we’re more prone to the consumption of coffee (at least I am) … but the way you present the tea party I think I’d be willing to make an exception! Lovely, everything looks delicious. Good for you for taking the time to enjoy life. And, why not? D

    • I don’t drink very much coffee at all, but its my husbands favourite…..however even he passes over his beloved coffee for a cream tea…I think it might be the scones which seal the deal ๐Ÿ™‚
      I love using these old cups with their history, and they somehow help me to slow down and savour the tea.

  22. Lovely – everything about this post. When I went to Scarborough last spring, we had some of these moments when time stood still and tea and scones were served on bone china. And that marmalade…I really have to experience that again…

  23. Thanks for sharing afternoon tea in Scotland. So lovely.

  24. Amy says:

    That is so classic and delicate afternoon tea nostalgia. Beautiful post!

  25. becca givens says:

    I love the entire ritual surrounding “tea”!! My wedding reception was a high tea! Happy Weekend!!

  26. Clanmother says:

    Morning tea is bracing and afternoon tea is elegant. Evening tea is a benediction on a day well lived. I am coming over to your house…:)

  27. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgia | Mike Hardisty Photography

  28. Angie says:

    A lovely post and beautiful pictures. They make me wish I’m sitting there and enjoying too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. adinparadise says:

    Bengal looks like the cat that got the ‘clotted cream’. ๐Ÿ™‚ I love the idea of using the best china for an afternoon’s tea party out in the garden. Beautiful photos, Seonaid.

    • Oh yes he usually looks like that….a touch of the Cheshire Cat in him ๐Ÿ™‚
      I love tea in the garden, and using bone china just lifts the occasion….after all why not use it rather than leaving it languishing in the cupboard!

  30. Gaye Abbott says:

    Oh, the lovely rituals that keep us tied to the moment to moment experience of life! Here is to celebrating more of those! Would love to visit some day from the U.S. and sit down with tea and scone and open into a new friendship….

  31. ginnietom says:

    like the sketch “dinner for one” every new years eve…but english tea time afternoon too…original english tea, I preferre breakfast tea and wilkins & sons, oldtime orange marmelade, tasted like another world…
    you lucky one….
    WE greets….

    • Werner, you have great taste in marmalade, and in tea. We had two pots on the go, one with black tea, and one with oolong tea, both nice on a warm afternoon….but breakfast tea, now that has to be strong and refreshing ๐Ÿ™‚

  32. Hanna says:

    What a lovely post and the fine delicate pictures that support your good story. It is as though old traditions and drinking tea are made for each other.
    I wish you a lovely weekend.

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