Here’s How To Host A Queen-Approved Tea Party
Story goes that Anna Russell, the Duchess of Bedford and lifelong friend of Queen Victoria, was the creator of the English “Afternoon Tea”. She wanted a light meal to curb her hunger between lunch and dinner. Soon after, she began inviting her companions to socialise over tea and pastries. And thus, the Afternoon tea tradition caught on and gave the the English people a legitimate reason to snack. And boy do they take it seriously!
High Tea, Low Tea?
In today’s terms, high tea and afternoon tea are used interchangeably. In actuality, high tea refers to a heavier meal, more specifically, dinner. Despite so, many restaurants and upscale cafes still label it as “High Tea”. Afternoon tea is also called “Low Tea”, mostly because it takes place in sitting rooms with low tables.
The tea wares are the backbone to recreating the most authentic afternoon tea experience. These wares are intricately designed with some fetching upwards of $50,000 to a few Mils. When planning to host a tea party, don’t forget the following or you might be thrown into the dungeons for crime against the English national pastime.
- Teapot, cup and saucer: A formal tea would use matching teapots and cups while an eclectic mix for an informal tea would do just fine.
- Milk jug: Milk before or after the pouring of tea is debatable, but entirely to one’s preference.
- Sugar bowl and tongs: Use cubes for a more refined tea session.
- Hot water pitcher: Used for weakening a strong brew.
- Tea strainer: To catch loose leaves
- Napkins: For spills, cleanups and signalling the end of the tea session.
- Silver Tray: Serving tray that is reserved for the most formal afternoon tea.
- Tiered cake stand: An essential in formal and informal tea sessions.
- Plate: To place lemon slices or food.
Afternoon tea served are often less robust than the morning brews. Black tea like Darjeeling and Lapsang Souchong or blends like Earl Grey are the go-to staples.
When it comes to nibbles, the menu traditionally consist of 3 courses: scones, savoury sandwiches and sweet pastries or cakes. These snacks are served on tiered stands in this particular order: top layer for scones, middle for savoury and the bottom for sweets. Etiquette dictates that it should also be consumed in that order. But to be honest, nothing can stop a sweet tooth from reaching for that piece of macaron.
All poised with the basics of hosting your first proper tea party, now you’ll be all ready to entertain whenever the kettle’s whistles. Of course, with the Queen’s seal of approval.