Bestselling author Milly Johnson decided to sample some of Yorkshire's afternoon tea delights for inspiration for her latest book. She searched high and low for her perfect Afternoon Tea. To find the most succulent sandwich, the dreamiest cream scone, the perfect cuppa. Here Milly shares her findings.


Having written about idyllic afternoon teas crammed with all my favourite things – does the perfect afternoon tea exist?

I’ve been sent so many pictures of yummy afternoon teas that I thought I better investigate and dragged a few willing volunteers along with me sampling the delights of teashops around the county with an analytical eye – and stomach.

Is an open sandwich preferable to a finger?  Complicated fillings vs the delicate ?  Is the setting as important as the food?  And most importantly – can you have an afternoon tea without the crowning glory – the cream scone? 

Middlethorpe Hall at the side of the York racecourse has a stunning ambience. 

Afternoon tea is taken in a lounge with views of the grounds and a cosy lit fire.  It’s olde-world grandeur at its finest with loose-leaf tea – and lots of it – and a cake stand crammed with goodies: scones, tea-loaves of three varieties, bright pink macaroons, baby eclairs and trifle. 

My six foot three partner was filled to the top,  though he moaned about sitting on a low sofa because he preferred a proper table rather than a low one, and I had to agree.  The scones were to die for and – thank you – they served butter with them, the first place we visited that does.

It was heading for perfection, although the macaroons were a bit too crunchy.  Sadly the fillings of the finger sandwiches were just a teeny-bit on the thin side.  So very good but not perfect.  

We’d also heard about Blacker Hall Farm near Wakefield and as one of my friends needed a cheer up, we headed over there for a platter.

It was incredibly busy so it wasn’t exactly ‘afternoon tea’ ambience, but this is a farm shop cafe, so we couldn’t moan.  What didn’t go down too well was the food arriving and no tea. 

Apparently there was a twenty-minute delay on drinks.  Now, forgive me, but you can’t have a scone and no tea so we twiddled our thumbs until it arrived. 

We were slightly amused to find that we couldn’t order afternoon tea for three, but had to order it for two and then another one.  (I think that actually makes three).  One pot of tea is never enough – but we had to pay extra for a fill-up.  The sandwiches were open ones full of flavour, but messy to eat. 

The scone was dry and the chocolate cake not fresh. And whoever dished up the cream must have been in the portion control police. 

Now the White Heart at Penistone is locally renowned for its afternoon tea offering and so I dragged along yet another willing accomplice. 

Okay, so it’s a pub, but it’s such a pretty place it doesn’t matter.  And what is it about china cups and plates that make the food taste so much better? 

This afternoon tea started with a home-made carrot and coriander soup with a kick of chilli – just the thing to have with a glass of Prosecco, for we had a ‘sparkling afternoon tea’. Beautiful. 

The finger sandwiches were fat and fabulous – egg mayo (my fave), cheese and onion, Yorkshire ham.  I just wish there was a teensy bit more savoury on afternoon teas.  

So, on I continue, journeying around the county always hoping to find that place where the sandwiches are White Heart perfect, the scones are Middlethorpe quality, the tea flows, the cream is copious and clotted.  And it all happens under one exquisite roof.

Milly Johnson’s latest novel Afternoon at the Sunflower Café is published by Simon & Schuster.

With worldwide sales of over a million, Milly was nominated for the Melissa Nathan Award for Romantic Comedy in 2012 and in 2014, she won the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy Award.

Have you tucked into the perfect Yorkshire afternoon tea? If so, share your findings with Yorkshire Food & Drink. We’d love to hear from you.

About The Author

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