I remember hosting my first “high tea” at the age of 5. The distinguished guest list consisted of Mrs. Bearsy, Miss Lamby Ivy, and Mrs. Chocolate Cow, who sipped the finest tea and nibbled on the most delicious crumpets. We had stimulating conversation and laughed as we held our pinkies high. My mother would peek in and ask what was so funny...I replied, “Mrs. Bearsy just told us that Mr. Bearsy likes his porridge cold...not hot!”
I still love to throw afternoon tea parties for my friends...just not the stuffy ones. The high tea is a celebration of all things delightful, delicious, pretty, and feminine. If you’ve never had a tea party, now is the time to embrace your inner Eloise, capture the vibe of Downton Abby, and host a beautiful tea party of your own.
For thousands of years, our ancestors took tea leaves and buds and either placed them in a teapot or in a tea infuser. For tea-making connoisseurs, there is no comparison...it is loose-leaf tea or nothing; think of it as the French press coffee of the tea world.
Sipping tea to classical music may seem refined, but it gets boring fast. Make sure your tea party is a success by incorporating some entertainment into the afternoon. There are professional tealeaf readers you can hire, or do your own research so you can perform the readings yourself.
The best part of hosting a tea is setting the table; it sets the tone for your event! Make it the one well-themed feature that draws in everyone. This way, your choice of china can be any color, mixed or matched, and can be as opulent as you like. Even if you don’t have so much as a pot, don’t let that stop you. You may find your new hobby is searching for fine bone china and silver spoons...and if not, visit a specialized rental company who carries everything you need to create your desired look.
Make sure you have sugar bowls and creamers, silver tongs, and cubed sugar, as all these accouterments add to your table decor. Finish the table with romantic and elegant flowers, such as roses and peonies.
Greet your guests with champagne garnished garnished with an extra touch, like a sprig of lavender. If the weather calls for something more chilled and refreshing, set out pitchers of iced tea as well as lemonade. Every tea party I’ve ever hosted, or been a guest thereof, has been memorable because they speak to the girl and woman within.
Remember ... if you can boil water, you can make a great cup of tea! What would a tea party be without finger food?! That being said, it can be very time consuming to create a menu with so many small bites. Not everyone is the culinary queen of her kitchen, and that is why there is no shame in sourcing out many of the delectable bites you will be serving. I suggest leaving the baking to the bakeries, since there are so many wonderful patisseries to choose from, and take on the tea sandwiches. If you’re uncertain about guests’ dietary needs, include vegetarian and gluten-free options.
Ceylon tea with a brisk flavor
Indian black tea
Slight nutty aroma with a delicate flavor
Chamomile with delicate sweet notes
South African red bush with Indian spices
Smoked Scottish Salmon/Chive Cream Cheese
Artichoke/Red Pepper/Sun-Dried Tomato/Goat Cheese
Smoked Sturgeon/Dill Crème Fraîche
Roquefort Cheese/Pear/Walnuts Fresh Ricotta/Fig Jam
Crushed Avocado/Micro Greens
Egg White/Tarragon Salad Prosciutto/Arugula/Roasted Tomato