High tea as most North Americans think of it (a dainty meal of tea, scones, finger sandwiches, and sweets) is more correctly known as “afternoon tea.” Regardless of what you prefer to call this afternoon meal of tea and snacks, I think it is the perfect way to celebrate Mother’s Day or a birthday. Here are some tips on how to throw your very own vintage tea party!
Tea – As you plan your afternoon tea menu, don’t forget to select a few teas to pair with your food. An obvious choice is Earl Grey as it is the world’s most famous flavored black tea. The natural sweetness of Earl Grey lends itself to pairing with many afternoon tea sweets. Other good black teas are English Breakfast and Orange Pekoe. A chamomile or a mint tea is also good as they are naturally caffeine free and pair well with sweets.
Alcoholic Drinks – For those that like to add a little cheer to their tea, there are tons of recipes online but here are some good booze pairings to create cocktails with:
Black Tea + Rum
Green Tea + Whisky
Mint Tea + Rum or Bourbon
Chamomile Tea + Gin or Vodka
Chai Tea + Rye Whiskey or Irish Cream
Earl Grey + Bourbon
Cold Drinks – An obvious choice for those that aren’t into hot tea would be iced tea or lemonade. There are so many ways to dress both up but the easiest is to add some lavender or fruit and some lemon slices as a garnish.
There aren’t any rules when it comes to the food, but a standard afternoon tea comprises a tier of finger sandwiches, a tier of sweets and one of scones. However, you could also throw in pastries, petits fours, biscuits or cake.
Finger Sandwiches – Popular afternoon tea finger sandwiches include cucumber, smoked salmon and egg salad. Don’t forget to remove the crusts!
Sweets – There are so many sweets you can serve at an afternoon tea party. Madeleines are a classic but hard to get a hold of. Try macaroons or whipped shortbread cookies. Just think small bite sized treats.
Scones – Classic scone recipes for afternoon tea include buttermilk, cinnamon, almond and dried fruit scones. You could also add a strong cheddar and some herbs for a savoury scone.
Condiments and Spreads – Orange marmalade and lemon curd are classic afternoon tea condiments. Other afternoon tea toppings and spreads include mock Devonshire cream, lemon-mustard mayonnaise, rose or herbed butter and honey.
For your table, think Alice in Wonderland. Add a gorgeous table centerpiece, beautiful floral displays, and plenty of individual style. It’s not just what outfit you are going to wear that needs attention when planning your afternoon tea, dressing your table is just as important!
Table Covering – Whether it’s a length of pretty floral material, a rustic jute roll, or even a brown Kraft paper roll, it’s amazing what a difference a tablecloth or table runner can make. Vintage doilies are fun and don’t forget the cloth napkins!
Tableware and Serving Dishes – I love an opportunity to pull out my vintage teacup collection. If you don’t have any, just head to a local thrift store or search on Facebook Marketplace. You can serve more than tea in them, think ice cream or fresh berries. Once you’ve decided on plates and cutlery, it is time to sort out your serving dishes. I don’t know about you but what says afternoon tea more than tiered cake stands. I love using old china and turning them into cake stands (tutorial coming soon).
Flowers – Whether your flowers are fresh or dried, mix and match different sized vases for a laid-back bohemian or country feel – small bud vases with a single stem, cut-glass vases with roses, or different heights of cylinder vases with wildflowers all on the same table look beautiful.
Whether you decide to make everything from scratch or buy everything, the most important thing is time spent together. Don’t stress over the details and remember to have fun!!!