How to Host a Traditional Tea Party?

An afternoon tea party is suitable for many celebrations. When you'd like to host a party that isn't as involved as a dinner party, a tea party can be the answer. It's an ideal format for a baby or bridal shower, Boxing Day gathering, a retirement party, a birthday celebration, or time to catch up with good friends. The food is prepared before your guests arrive, and is either presented buffet style or by passing plates of goodies at the table. The only thing you need to serve is the tea itself, leaving you plenty of time to relax and enjoy your guests. Your guest list can include dozens of people or only one good friend with whom you'd like to share an intimate conversation. It can be a very formal affair as you'll find at some of the more elegant hotels, or it can be as casual as a pot of tea and some cookies.

The Tea

With so much of a focus on the foods in afternoon tea, it can be easy to overlook the tea. However, the tea or teas you serve are just as important as the foods, if not more so. I highly recommend selecting from this list of top teas for afternoon tea, as most of them pair very well with a range of foods found on afternoon tea menus. Try to select bold teas for rich or strongly flavored foods or more delicate teas for more subtle foods. Consider including at least one caffeine-free tisane ("herbal tea") or a decaf option, in case some guests are sensitive to caffeine.

Milk and Condiments

Milk, sugar, and lemon are optional ingredients that your guests can add to their own tea. Depending on the type or types of tea on your tea party menu, you might want to offer milk, sugar, and lemon or only one or two additives. (Although some Americans like to add cream to their tea, this is not traditional in England. Also, adding milk to Earl Grey is not common in England, as the dairy tends to clash with the bergmot flavor in the tea.)

Accompany the tea selections with cream, sugar, and lemon slices to accommodate the varied tastes of your guests.

This tea party stems from the British tradition of “afternoon tea”.  It involves tea served in a fine china cup and saucer, scones with clotted cream and jam, small watercress and cucumber sandwiches (without crusts) and bite-sized cakes and sweets.

Seasonal ingredients can add flavor and color to your tea party menu. Consider using fresh fruit, herbs, and edible flowers to enliven your menu. One example of seasonal ingredients as a focus for an afternoon tea menu is strawberry tea, a type of afternoon tea menu that includes fresh strawberries.

Purchase your tea and related accessories You'll want to have several teapots to brew a variety of teas for your guests.

Review recipes for tea time sandwiches and treats. At most tea parties there will be a selection of both savory and sweet bites to satisfy both kinds of appetites. If your tea party is an in-between meal, you will only need a small selection of bites. If your tea party takes the place of a full meal, you'll want to offer a greater selection.

Plan your menu. Include both savory and sweet food.

Brew and serve a proper pot of tea. 

Relax and enjoy your guests while musing on the merits of tea. Turn to tea quotations and reading the leaves for inspiration and amusement.

Milk Teas such as Assam Summer Tea, Darjeeling Afternoon Tea

Black Teas such as Ginger Peach Black Tea

Green Teas like Acai Berry Green Tea

Herbal Teas like Cocoa Orange Herbal Tea, or Hibiscus Mint Tea

Iced Tea, especially the oh-so-refreshing Tropical Iced Tea


Frequently Asked Questions About Traditional Tea Party

What is the best time to have a tea party?

A tea party is essentially a day time event, mostly held post lunch. Ideally 3pm to 5 pm is considered a good time for tea party. However, you can organize it anytime post noon. 

What types of food should be served at a tea party?

While there is no fixed menu for a tea party, food items such as sandwiches, teacakes, scones, breads, pastries and cookies can prove be to be some delectable accompaniments that go well with the tea. 

Can I serve sweets at a Tea Party?

Yes, definitely. Delcicaies such as madeleines, trifles, cup cakes, sponge cakes, and cookies go perfect with a traditional tea party spread. 

What type of party favors can we give at a tea party?

A jar of jam, home baked cookies, some loose leaf tea, tea infusers, cutlery - all prove to be excellent choices for tea party favours. You can pick one or more from this list, depending upon your preferences and budget. 

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