Tea sandwiches are often served at occasions that call for a light meal consisting of a variety of easy-to-eat, delicate finger foods. They are easy to handle and more appropriate than larger, messier sandwiches when entertaining guests at a formal or semi-formal gathering where a full meal is not expected.
The concept of tea sandwiches derives from the British tradition of afternoon tea, a light meal served in late afternoon intended to fend off hunger until the later main meal. Bridal showers, baby showers, cocktail parties and birthday parties are occasions where a similar type meal would be appropriate.
Tea sandwiches provide a great deal of menu flexibility. They can feature a wide variety of bread and fillings, appealing to the varied tastes of party guests.