How to Throw a Perfectly Lovely Afternoon Tea Party
Throw an easy afternoon tea party that will impress.
For those not in the know, afternoon tea and high tea are completely different. Afternoon tea is served to fill the gap between lunch and dinner and traditionally consists of light fare like cakes and cookies. High tea, on the other hand, involves more substantial fare and traditionally happened when workers returned home–it was more like dinner. Over time, the distinctions between the two have blurred, and tea no matter what time of day it’s served, more often than not it takes the form of afternoon tea with tea sandwiches and scones and cream. In the U.S., afternoon tea served between lunch and dinner is the norm, but honestly, the timing is up to you.
And of course, tea is appropriate any time of year, no matter the weather. Want to ice up your tea for the steamy days of summer? Go right ahead. Just make sure you move the party outdoors, under shade for full effect.
From the invitations to the types of tea you serve, get inspired to throw your own afternoon tea with the tips and ideas below.
Afternoon Tea Tip and Ideas
1. Invitation – While it may seem just as easy to send a text or an email as an invitation to your afternoon tea, there is something about a handwritten paper invitation sent via snail mail. It has a certain je ne sais pas that is missing in this digital age. Etsy is a great place to find appropriate choices from luxurious letterpress to clever typographical works of art–it depends on how formal or informal you want to be. Of course, it’s not completely unacceptable to send a text invite either–at least for a less formal tea among friends.
2. Types of Tea to Serve – Whether you choose Darjeeling, orange pekoe, or Earl Grey, one key for a great afternoon tea is to offer 2-3 options. The choices are up to you, but Earl Grey, orange pekoe, and English Breakfast are traditional options. You can also go farther afield and include herbal teas or blends including rooibos chai, lemon verbena, chamomile, honeybush, or mint for those who might be eschewing caffeine. One pro tip is to make sure that you use loose tea instead of tea bags. Your guests will appreciate your attention to detail, and loose tea is often a better quality of tea. Harney & Sons has a lot of wonderful tea choices.
3. Teapots and Other Teaware – One necessity of throwing a tea party is you must have several teapots. While you may decide to invest in some fancy decorative teapots, it may be more realistic to invest in functional pots that will also serve for everyday as well. If your teapots don’t include infusers, you will want to invest in small strainers that guests can place over their cups to catch the tea leaves as they pour. Teacups and saucers, a sugar pot, and cream pitcher are a must too. Also, an electric tea kettle can make things so much easier.
4. Tea Sandwiches and Other Nibbles – Ideally, you will want to serve a variety of food options, including sweet and savory choices. Homemade pecan scones topped with homemade strawberry preserves, cucumber or egg salad sandwiches cut into triangles (and with the crusts removed), and a tasty asparagus and feta quiche would make for a delightful menu. Whatever the menu you decide upon it should feel special.
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