Tea Party Ideas
The varieties of teas and snacks you serve should take center stage at your tea party, and you can complement the display with traditional tea party accouterments like an old-fashioned tea set.
If you don't have a traditional tea set, head to a thrift shop or flea market to pick one up. You'll want to look for tea cups and saucers, tea pots, creamers, sugar bowls, sugar tongs and tea spoons decorated in a Victorian style with flowers and golden accents.
Really want to go all out with fun and functional tea accessories? Then look for a three-tiered plate stand (for your scones and tea sandwiches), teapot warmers (to keep your tea hot), tea strainers (to keep leaves out of your cup), tea infusers (to flavor a single cup of tea) and teapot bibs (to catch drips out of teapot spouts). All of these special accents will really signal to your guests that its tea party time.
A delicate floral tablecloth and small vases filled with bouquets of ivory and pink tea roses make for a tea party décor that's fit for a queen.
The ritual of afternoon tea is believed to have begun in the early 1830s, when Anna, the seventh duchess of Bedford, asked for tea and light refreshments one afternoon. She soon began inviting friends to join her, and the tradition spread. Because the elegance of the tea party is part of its charm, tea parties tend to be dressy affairs even today.
Floral skirts and dresses make for suitable attire, and you can go all out with formal hats and white gloves.
Although tea time is traditionally a ladies' lunch, men are increasingly getting in on the act. Men should choose a suit or slacks and a button-down shirt that are suitable for an afternoon event.
If you can con kids or friends into acting as maids and butlers, ask them to wear crisp black clothes and white aprons to fully dress the part.
A tea party is a great time to try reading tea leaves.
You can either hire a professional tea-leaf reader or get a book on how to read tea leaves and do it yourself.
All you need to do is pour a teaspoon of tea into a light-colored teacup. Fill the cup with boiling water and let the leaves settle. Drink the tea while focusing on a question you have or a wish you'd like fulfilled. When there's only a teaspoon of tea left, swirl the contents and pour out the remaining liquid. Look for patterns in the remaining leaves. According to one source, a sun signifies happiness while an arrow indicates bad news.
Afternoon teas are usually served in stages, going from savory to sweet. Start your tea with traditional tea sandwiches like watercress and cream cheese, cucumber on buttered bread and egg salad. The bread should be sliced or rolled very thinly and the crusts should be cut off. Next, offer scones with Devonshire clotted cream and raspberry, strawberry and apricot jams. Finish with shortbread, mini fruit tarts and madeleines.
Tea Toddy (serves 4)
- 4 cups Earl Grey tea
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- 4 shots Bailey's Irish Cream
- 4 dashes Scotch whisky
Pour brewed tea into 4 tea cups, and add sugar to taste. Add a dash of Bailey's and Scotch to taste.