Afternoon Tea Inspiration with Square Meal

*This is a collaborative post*

Since going dairy free five years ago now I’ve made it my absolute mission to make sure that being free from didn’t equal missing out. The dairy free treat list was born because honestly I was too stubborn to resign myself to a life of no cake and rubbish treats, and I would regularly go through the supermarket checking the most obscure items to find the ones that happen to be dairy free.

Things have come a very long way since then – mostly down to the increased popularity of veganism, and it’s pretty easy now to walk into any shop or restaurant and find a few decent dairy and soya free things to eat. The last two things to have been easily replaced by dairy and soya free alternatives in my opinion have been cheese, and afternoon teas. For years now we have been complaining about how rancid most of the available dairy and soya free cheeses are, and the decent ones that are out there are expensive and difficult to come across. There does seem to have been a change though now, and I’m finding that the cheeses available on all the new dairy free pizzas, lasagnes and other ready meals that supermarkets are pretty good. So the last thing we need to conquer for the vegan/dairy free world is that English classic – afternoon tea.

Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash

What is Afternoon Tea

As someone who grew up in the US, afternoon tea has always been a bit of a mystery to me. A quintessential British activity – the perfect setting for a baby shower, hen do, or an afternoon with your Nan. Afternoon tea is really just an excuse to enjoy tiny sandwiches, posh cakes and of course a variety of scones, with either a big hot pot of tea or some chilled Prosecco.

Afternoon Tea Inspo

When it comes to a modern afternoon tea the options really are endless and there are no limits. Elaborately themed afternoon teas are now popular, ranging from rainbow afternoon tea, to Disney themed tea to an afternoon tea based around gin and everything in between. There really is something for every taste and every occasion, and the hardest bit is choosing which one is right for you. Squaremeal is a brilliant source for afternoon tea inspo, and can help you find the perfect afternoon tea in your area

Dairy Free Afternoon Tea

Cream cakes, chocolate desserts, buttery sandwiches and cheesey scones – not the most allergy friendly meal in the world that’s for sure. However slowly but surely I am seeing more and more vegan/dairy free afternoon tea offers and it is very exciting. Afternoon teas are usually crafted by talented pastry chefs, so cooking without cows milk should be a doddle for them actually, and many are rising to the challenge. The Assembly House in Norwich is able to create an amazing dairy free afternoon tea (or gluten free/vegan depending on your needs) and there are lots more restaurants following suit.

My top tips for getting yourself a decent dairy free afternoon tea are:

  1. Firstly ask around. Is anywhere locally already doing it? That will make your life easier! Search the internet, ask in dairy free or vegan facebook groups and get some recommendations (or maybe get some warning on where to avoid too).
  2. Ask in advance. Far in advance. The more notice you give them the better equipped they will be to sort something special out for you if there’s nothing already in place.
  3. Preferably pick up the phone and speak to someone or get the email address of someone who can really sort you out rather then the person who mans reception or takes bookings. Speak to someone at managerial level or someone from the kitchen if you can.
  4. Be realistic – you probably aren’t going to get the exact same as all your pals. It might not look quite as good (it might look even better!), but it will hopefully be delicious and a fun afternoon out so enjoy it!
  5. Check, check and check again. Sometimes things are too good to be true (or too good to be dairy free maybe?!) – make sure you double check when you arrive and again each time you’re served something – “is this the dairy free option?” or “this is definitely dairy free yes?” If you get a wishy washy unconvincing answer then request that they go check with the kitchen before you eat. You might feel like a bit of a nuisance but this is your baby’s health at stake and you don’t want to accidentally slip up. Better safe than sorry and all that!

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