teatime table setting

A Timeless Tradition

Phyllis Lifestyle 13 Comments

Taking afternoon tea simply never goes out of style. There is just something extra special about celebrating a moment with a tradition that has stood the true test of time. Yes, the custom originated in Europe, but this drink has ties around the world. And that is exactly what our new book Tea Parties Around the World by the editors of award-winning TeaTime magazine is celebrating.

I just adore the story of how afternoon tea began. Dinner was typically served after 7:00 p.m. A lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria, Lady Bedford, reportedly called for tea and a light snack around 4:00 p.m to subside hunger pangs—it sounds to me like Lady Bedford had the right idea. Soon enough, her friends joined her and the ritual was born! 

What I love about this book is the lens it gives into the remarkable lives and cultures of those around the globe. It inspires me when I see recipes and customs that are artfully developed as a result of someone’s passion and dedication. This book features 10 menus from different countries, each one its own little adventure. 

I wanted to share something with you today that, like tea, is classic and globally adored—Lemon-Vanilla Shortbread. This recipe comes straight from the Scotland menu. Shortbread is considered the crown jewel of Scottish baking, and with the delicate crumb and teeming lemon and vanilla flavor in this cookie, I can see why!    

lemon-vanilla shortbread

5.0 from 3 reviews
Lemon-Vanilla Shortbread
Recipe type: Sweets
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 wedges
Pairs best with Victorian Afternoon tea.
  • ½ cup salted butter, softened
  • ½ cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • ½ teaspoon lemon extract
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spray an 8-inch shortbread pan* with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter with a mixer at medium speed until creamy. Add confectioners' sugar, lemon zest, lemon extract, and vanilla extract, beating to blend. Add flour and salt beating until incorporated.
  3. Firmly press dough into prepared pan. Prick dough with a fork.
  4. Bake until shortbread is light golden brown, approximately 35 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Turn out shortbread onto a cutting board. Cut into wedges to serve.
  5. *We used an 8-inch hexagonal Scottish thistle ceramic shortbread pan from Brown Bag Designs, shorbreadpan.com. Shortbread can also be baked in an 8/inch round cake pan.

Whether you are an expert who can identify the aromas and origin of tea with one sip, or simply someone who enjoys elegant celebrations and dainty hors d’oeuvres, this global-inspired book is sure to surprise and delight.


Do you have any teatime recipes that are your favorites?

Comments 13

  1. Phyllis, I want to congratulate you and your staff on the September issue of Victoria magazine. I received it yesterday and will start to read it tonight. Everything is so lovely. I am excited about the Bronte story and the Beatrix Potter picnic. I look forward to every issue. Thank You for such a beautiful magazine.

  2. For many years I gathered together beautiful tea cups and serving pieces for tea. I even gave the ladies of the church a tea party and they were all dressed in their Sunday best and each was told to wear a hat and gloves. It was a lot of fun and I had the men of the church to serve the ladies. We used my tea services, and candle sticks. Much fun was had by all. I used recipes from your magazine. I made the mistake of having one of the ladies order the scones. When the scones arrived they were the size of the plates I used. The ladies laughed and therefore I was able to relax and enjoy it with them.

    I want to thank you for publishing my letter in the September issue of Victoria. I received the complementary copy of Victoria yesterday and have alerted my friendss and family but have not told them what was in the letter. I’m no writter by any stretch of the imagination so thank you for this little piece of delight.

  3. Oh my goodness! Thank you Phyllis!!! Your table setting is gorgeous and the Scottish Shortbread done in the Scottish Thistle mold is pure perfection! When my three daughters were growing up, we had little tea parties (friends and kitty cats included) all the time! Everyone loved shortbread and I started collecting all the Brown Bag Molds since they first came out. Unfortunately, my shortbread never looked like yours! I’m going to dig out my thistle mold this morning and keep trying this until I get it right!
    Thank you! Thank you!! THANK YOU!!!

    1. It was delicious and it’s now our favorite shortbread recipe! My husband just sat down to watch the NFL Preseason games and wanted to know if I could make some more of your shortbread! That says a lot in our house! We all can’t thank you enough!!!

  4. My hubby and I love Tea especially in the fall. All the flavored teas like cinnamon and apple flavored teas. We love them as gifts too. I like tea sandwiches and assorted cookies.
    Danish cookies go good with tea. I have some darling tea cups with cute tea spoons that go with them I like to use. Throughout the year I also try and drink a cup of green tea a few days a week as I understand it good for you. But its been over 100 degrees in Northern Ca. for so long now and the fires have put a damper on socializing as many friends are not doing well. All are in our prayers. My grandmother taught me pinky up when I drink my tea, she made me Jello strawberry pie with whipped cream and tea and I loved it. Grandmothers are so special, as are many of us! Happy Tea time to all!
    California Carmel

  5. I have been serving regular shortbread with some of my afternoon read for years. I would serve it with Scottish Breakfast Tea. That’s what my friends always wanted with my shortbread even though it was afternoon. When I told them I was getting tired of making shortbread, they insisted I don’t stop or they wouldn’t come!! SO…. I bought new designs in the brown shortbread pans and solved the problem. I now have 6 shortbread pans. A friend even brought me one back from Ireland! I look forward to trying this recipe. I love my subscription to Teatime Magazine and put them out at my teas….next to my FAVORITE magazine, Victoria!

  6. I am very excited to see this recipe. My husband has ordered a copy of the book “Tea Parties Around the World” for my birthday. I’m hoping to host an “Around the World “ Advent Tea in December and I’m looking forward to making recipes from this wonderful book, including this Lemon Vanilla Shortbread. Thanks so much!

  7. Thank you for sharing. The recipe sounds delicious and I love the shortbread pan. Beautiful! I can’t wait to try it.

  8. Love the article and the picture of the table set for tea using a beautiful china pattern.
    Beautiful china is a weakness of mine. Thank you for sharing. I would love to try the recipe.

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