Saturday, August 9, 2008

Tea Parties Take the Cake

Taking cues from a favored English past time, tea-party themes range from Victorian elegance to purely whimsical, appealing to a broad age range as well. Tea Rooms have appeared throughout the U.S. giving us a guide to the ways of cozy ambience, dress-up, quiet conversation, and etiquette. You don't need to spend hours in the kitchen to host a memorable tea party. Prepare small sandwiches with simple flavors like cream cheese and prosciutto, mozzarella and tomato, tuna salad, or ham and apple. Simply spread a thin coat of mayonnaise, butter, or cream cheese on the bread to keep it from getting soggy. Add your favorite filling and cut off the edges with a serrated knife. Then cut with cookie cutter, or cut into simple square shapes. Add a few pastries from your local bakery such as scones, muffins, and danishes in assorted flavors. Keep the party to around 2 hours. Any longer will require a light lunch.
Tea Party Ideas
Mother/Daughter Club
Start a Mother/Daughter Tea Club - Gather together once a month and use special teacups, teapots, and linens along with several types of tea and finger foods. Introduce a different theme each month that interests women of all ages: fashion, health, gardening, etc. It's a beautiful time to enjoy each other.
Tea Break at Work
Bring sandwiches, cookies, scones and a special teapot for a special break from the ordinary Surprise your co-workers with a tea break.
Tea and Cookies
Have everyone bring their favorite batch of cookies and display them on fine china platters.
Start with innovative invitations. For a girls' birthday tea party, cut out invitations shaped as teapots or send each guest a small teacup with an invitation attached or painted on the cup. Or use floral note cards or postcards.
Purchase or borrow the necessary items for your tea gatherings. You'll need 1 or more china teapots for intimate gatherings. Cups and saucers may be matching, but create interest with a variety of patterns. For sugar, always use cubes in a sugar bowl with sugar tongs for serving. Serve milk, not cream. Have teaspoons, lemon slices in a dish with a small fork, serving utensils for cake, forks, and knives for jam.
Don't forget the music: classical or vintage
Use candles to create ambience.
Serve a colorful variety of petit fours, scones, sugar cookies, and of course, chocolate.
Set out bouquets of pink and white flowers.
Take Polaroid snapshots of guests to add to the fun and chatter.
Ask guests to dress up complete with heels, hats, and gloves
Surprise your guests with tea party favors such as lace handkerchiefs, flavored tea, teapot cozies, , teacups, porcelain teabag holders, demitasse spoons with teapot handles, or your favorite recipes printed on floral stationary.
Tea Party Etiquette:
This is a great time to teach young ladies about etiquette. To stir your tea, swish the tea back and forth, never hitting the sides of the cup. Never leave the spoon in the cup, but gently rest the spoon on the saucer, behind the cup on the right side under the cup handle. Drink your tea by lifting the saucer and cup together, with the saucer in one hand, and cup in the other.
Tea Preparation
Fill a tea kettle with purified water and set on stove to boil. Warm up your china teapot by running hot water thru it from the faucet. This will keep your tea warmer for a bit longer. Add your teabags or tea-filled infuser to the teapot using 2-3 tea bags for 4 guests. Pour the boiling water carefully into your teapot and wait 5 minutes, then remove teabags. China Teapots are best at keeping tea warm. Surround teapot with a stylish tea cozy for extra insulation.
Elaine Kordares
Founder of The Teapot Shoppe
For a wide variety of teapots, tea party accessories by Royal Patrician, Kaldun & Bogle, Kensington, Roy Kirkham and more, visit The Teapot Shoppe on line at


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