Two pinkies way up for this growing trend.
Credit: Historic Cavalier Hotel

You heard it here first: Afternoon tea is happy hour's elegant and sophisticated big sister, and it has never been as trendy as it is today. In fact, according to Pinterest, searches for vintage tea parties are up by 70%. And the theme isn't reserved for little girls and their teddy bears; adults are equally as eager to partake in afternoon tippling. From tea party recipes to tea party decor, it's clear people are craving opportunities to crunch on a cucumber sandwich or pop in a petit four.

Afternoon tea is a feast for both the tastebuds and the eyes. A quick search of #afternoontea on Instagram reveals a staggering 6.2 million posts (and growing). Porcelain pastels paired with shiny silver spoons and tongs make picture-perfect moments. Marry that with a menu of delicate foods, floral centerpieces, rosy teas, (and sometimes champagne too), and you have loads of fun at your fingertips.

The flourishing grandmillennial aesthetic only further emphasizes why afternoon tea might be gaining traction. These late 20-to-30-somethings are collecting their grandmother's china, sterling silver, and table linens, including everything from Mimi's antique teacups to her demitasse spoons.

If you'd rather attend a tea than host one, tea rooms and hotels across the South are offering exactly that. The French Room at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas invites guests to participate in high tea, complete with bubbles and caviar. The Swan Coach House in Atlanta is the quintessential place to enjoy a ladies' tea along with accouterments. You'll even find afternoon tea at St. Regis hotel properties around the world.

Tea service is more than a midday meal; it's a long-standing tradition. "Afternoon tea isn't just a chance to sip on a hot beverage," says Alana Peters of the Historic Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach. "It's very much an experience." At the Cavalier, The Raleigh Room lounge is the central gathering place for hotel visitors. According to Peters, throughout history, famous guests such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Elizabeth Taylor, and Judy Garland (and everyone in between) have used the Raleigh Room as a living room of sorts where classic cocktails are served just as often as tea is.

While there's nothing quite like a celebratory Friday afternoon happy hour, there's something uniquely special about turning to tea instead. "Happy hour is done everywhere, and it's something that we're all used to, especially the nine to five work culture. Every restaurant or bar has some version of that," says Peters. "Afternoon tea, on the other hand, is more of a celebration. It's inclusive for all ages, and what's more, it's a nod to history too."

In a world in which we are constantly on the go, being pulled from one business meeting or soccer game to the next, afternoon tea allows us a chance to sit still and enjoy one of life's little luxuries. The bite-sized foods and hot beverages (or chilled champagnes!) are icing on the tiny cake.