What is Scottish Afternoon Tea?

Picture of Scottish Afternoon Tea
This post may contain affiliate links. When you purchase through the affiliate links, we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information, check out our Affiliate Disclosure page.

Introduced to Scotland in the early 1600s, many of the teas that are consumed today have been influenced or touched by the Scots. For instance, the well-known brand of Lipton tea was founded by a Scottish gentleman named Thomas Lipton and was first sold in Glasgow, Scotland during the late 1800s.

Historically speaking, the adoption of tea coincides with daily life and routines. In the 19th century, for instance, the concept of afternoon tea became popular with the wealthy in Great Britain. Essentially, afternoon tea took place during the middle of the afternoon and was accompanied by an assortment of cakes, finger sandwiches, and scones.

Modern Scottish Afternoon Tea

Different from breakfast or high tea blends, afternoon tea blends are typically black tea. Known for its strong taste and aromatic qualities, afternoon tea is also referred to as “low tea” since it was traditionally served on low-level tables.

Today, there are many different types of Scottish afternoon teas, each produced from a unique variety of tea leaves harvested all over the globe. This result is a handful of flavorful Scottish afternoon tea options. One common factor linking them is the strong and robust taste when compared to other types of tea. Although it is easier to find loose, Scottish afternoon teas can be purchased in tea bags.


Today, a handful of companies sell Scottish Afternoon tea blends, each with its own flavor palate. Some of the more popular brands include:

  • Harney & Sons- this black tea blend boasts of its strong and simple flavors and its slight malt and citrus smells
  • Brodies- this loose-leaf tea, which is described as mellow, soothing, and refreshing, is said to be made from a blend of tea leaves harvested from India, Ceylon, and Kenya
  • Tea of Life- this black tea variety is infused with banana, pineapple, passion fruit, and mango flavors

Going Out for Scottish Afternoon Tea

Still a popular practice today, there are many places in Scotland that still offer a special afternoon tea experience. Some of the most popular spots include:

  • Damm27
  • The Ivy on the Square
  • Scotsman Picturehouse
  • Mackintosh at the Willow

Brewing Scottish Afternoon Tea

If you are not going to be visiting Scotland anytime soon, but want to try out this signature style of tea, there is good news: it can be brewed in the comfort of your own home. Being available both loose and in tea bags, you can choose which method of brewing would work best for you.

Tea Bags

In order to brew this black tea variety, you will need a pot or kettle to boil the water and a mug to drink out of. You will also need 12 oz of water and one tea sachet.

  1. Bring 12 oz of water to a boil. For the best tasting results, it is suggested you use spring or fresh water.
  2. While the water is coming up to a boil, place the tea sachet into your mug. 
  3. Once the water reaches 212°F. (boiling), pour it into the mug and let the sachet steep for five minutes.
  4. When the time is up, remove the tea bag and enjoy! (Some varieties specify if they are meant to be enjoyed with a little bit of milk or other additives. Be sure to check the packaging for the company’s recommendations.)


When using loose-leaf tea, there are a few items required to brew a perfectly delicious Scottish afternoon tea. You will need a pot or kettle to boil water, a teapot for steeping the tea, cups to drink the tea with, and a strainer to collect the used tea leaves.

  1. Preheat your teapot and tea cups with hot water. When they are both been warmed up, discard the water.
  2. While you are pre-heating your vessels, bring fresh (or spring water) to a boil. 
  3. Put 1 tsp of loose leaf into the pre-heated and emptied teapot for every cup you are making. (For example, if you are making 4 cups of tea, place 4 tsp of tea leaves into the teapot.)   
  4. Once the water comes to a boil (212°F.), pour the water into the teapot, on top of the leaves, and steep for 5 minutes.
  5. When the time is up, pour the tea into the tea cups, straining out the tea leaves with the strainer. If desired, add sweeteners or milk before enjoying.

Appearance, Aroma, & Taste

Like other traditional black teas, the small leaves are dark in color. Similarly, when brewed, the tea is a dark brown, almost reddish color. This is because they have been fully oxidized, a process that adds to the aroma, taste, and strength of the tea.

Typical when it comes to smells and taste, Scottish afternoon tea has been described as being bold in flavor, but different brands sometimes add different citrus subtleties to the taste. The aroma has been described as malty and fruity.

Nutritional Value & Caffeine Content

Like other black teas, Scottish afternoon tea has little nutritional value. One serving, 1 sachet or 8 fl oz, contains zero calories, fats, carbs, and proteins.

As for caffeine, the amount in one serving can vary between 50-90 mg per serving. This range is due to how the tea is brewed and what grade of tea is used, among other things.

Scottish Afternoon Tea

Tea production has been a big part of Scottish culture for centuries, dating back to the 1600s. Not only is this black tea available from different companies and in different varieties, but it is also a daily practice that still takes place today.

In the middle of the day, Scottish afternoon tea is a time for serving a robust tea beverage with cakes, finger sandwiches, and scones. With the rise of different brands, this strong tea is best known for its malty and almost fruity aroma, bold flavor, and dark reddish liquor appearance.

If you are a black tea lover or are looking to try something with a full-bodied flavor, you should give Scottish Afternoon tea a try.