An afternoon tea set, also known as a tea service, is a collection of teaware that is used to serve a traditional afternoon tea. Typically, an afternoon tea set includes a teapot (often including an infuser), cups, saucers, a creamer, a sugar bowl, and possibly a tray, flat or tiered, from which to serve small sandwiches, cakes, and pastries.
Afternoon tea sets come in a variety of styles, sizes, and materials. Traditional sets are often made of porcelain or bone china, and may feature intricate designs or patterns. More modern sets may be made of glass, stainless steel, or even ceramic, and may have a sleek and minimalist design.
When serving afternoon tea, the teapot is typically filled with hot water and tea leaves, and allowed to steep inside an infuser for several minutes (the pot may be set directly on the stove if made of metal; if not, the water is typically heated in another vessel before adding it to the pot). The tea is then poured into the cups, which are often filled about three-quarters full, leaving room for milk or other additions. The creamer and sugar bowl are used to hold cream and sugar, respectively, for guests who prefer their tea that way. The selection of small sandwiches, cakes, and pastries can be arranged on a serving platter or tiered tray.
Afternoon tea sets can be used for formal occasions or everyday use — they're great for larger get-togethers, a family brunch, or even tea for two (why not make it an occasion?), and the presence of an afternoon tea set elevates your table no matter who's visiting. They also make great housewarming, wedding, or anniversary gifts!
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