When my husband and I visited England a few years ago, we enjoyed high tea at the Pump Room in Bath on Thanksgiving. It was a treat to sit in the historic room listening to Handel while paintings of lords and ladies watched us eat scones with clotted cream. Drinking tea is a great British tradition and historians have connected the decline in health of the British poor to low calorie, low nutrient tea replacing high calorie, high nutrient beer as their drink of choice. But I digress.
In America we tend to romanticize high tea because of its historical connotations and innate pinkie raising elegance. My mother belongs to a Victorian group that dresses up and meets for tea. Even one of her social clubs with no Victorian connection is meeting for high tea and encouraging members to wear Victorian dress. Tea houses and hotels all over America offer high tea in elegant and not so elegant settings. I have a hard time watching Downton Abbey without drinking a cup of tea.
In the mood to host a small or large tea party of your own? Here are some tips for brewing up some old fashioned fun!
1) Scour second hand stores for unique or vintage tea pots and tea cups. I've come across everything from small elephant tea pots to elegant platinum rimmed ones. Whatever your style, with patience, you will find what you are searching for. Also keep an eye out for multi-tiered servers and other pretty things like vintage lace tablecloths to decorate your tea table.
2) Get a little taste of British high tea by visiting a local British food market or a market like CostPlus that carries British food items. If you don't have a store that offers British goods near you, Amazon had a nice selection including The Devon Cream Company Clotted Cream. You can't have a scone without it. If you are searching for another great British taste then check out the jam selection from Tiptree by Wilkins and Sons on Amazon. My favorite Tiptree is the Raspberry Seedless Preserve. It was so good that I brought a jar back from England.
3) Have some fun with your tea flavors. A couple of years ago a friend gave me the Downton Abbey Estate Blend Earl Grey with Vanilla. It's really good and it gives your party that little hint of Downton Abbey. If you want a decaf option, one of my favorites is The Republic of Tea Strawberry Chocolate. It is delicious!
4) Serve tea sandwiches and other fun finger foods. For finger sandwiches, I love the classics like egg salad and cucumber. Recipes for both these and less traditional options can be found here and here . To serve something warm and savory I like Nancy's Frozen Mini-Quiches. Costco carries the in the large quantity but I've seen them in the smaller quantity at grocery stores.
5) Offer small but yummy deserts. I love serving Costo's mini-lemon cakes. They are the perfect bite-sized end to a delicious tea.
I hope these suggestions help you have a beautiful and tasty afternoon tea.
If you enjoyed this post then you will love my novels because they have a lot of tea drinking in them.
For more posts about tea parties click here and here.