The typical spread with afternoon tea includes finger sandwiches, warm scones, and cakes or pastries. The classic scone contains fruit preserves and clotted cream, but many preparers use biscuits instead. Traditional finger sandwiches for afternoon tea include a selection of options such as cucumber, ham or smoked salmon sandwiches.
Many accounts attribute the tradition of afternoon tea to the Duchess of Bedford in the mid 1800s. During this era, it was fashionable to eat two meals daily, which included breakfast and a late dinner. As a result, the Duchess of Bedford held afternoon tea events with snacks in order to combat fatigue and hunger between the two meals.