Afternoon Tea is a timeless tradition that seems to be becoming more popular. With all the current celebrations, afternoon tea is the perfect way to celebrate with family and friends and not just for the Jubilee - Afternoon Tea is perfect for hosting baby showers, birthdays, engagement celebrations or a simple social gathering with close friends and gives you the opportunity to put your own unique spin on an old tradition and treat your friends to a wonderful experience.
Depending on how many people are invited to your tea party, the table setting below is based on 6 people...
What you will need:
Cups & matching saucers x 6
Side Plates x 6
Cake plate x 1
Tiered cake stands x 2
Cake Forks x 6
Tea Spoons x 6
Butter knife x 6
Sugar bowl x 1
Teapots x 2 (depending on size)
Small saucers x 2 (for jam & butter)
Milk Jug x 2 (depending on size)
Food ingredients for your choice of menu
Having the right china is really important - it doesn't matter if the whole table setting is mis-matched - but you should make sure you have matching trios (cup,saucer and side plate). You can collect china from any good charity shop or even auction. I try to have a colour theme running through the table - so even if my china does not match, the colours complement the overall table arrangement. Having delicate, fine bone china will bring a hint of vintage elegance to your party and I swear ... tea tastes better drinking from a fine bone china teacup. Your table will look gorgeous!
Prepare you menu in advance so you know what you will need to buy. You can prepare the finger sandwiches the evening before, so all you need to do the next day is your freshly baked scones, cake & make your table look amazing.
Your menu can consist of whatever you want - you can be as creative as you like! Traditionally you should have a range of finger sandwiches, scones and a whole cake (popular choice being Victoria Sponge but you can have whatever flavour you like). I also like to include little sweet treats - flapjacks, macaroons etc.. Mini fruit tarts are popular, they look attractive and taste great. Having a mixture of sweet and savoury is the way to go.
Here is a very basic menu template to give you some inspiration:
Wiltshire ham & wholegrain mustard
Smoked salmon, cream cheese & cracked black pepper with a hint of lemon
Free range Egg mayonnaise & peppery rocket
Traditional Sliced Cucumber
English roast beef & horseradish
Fresh Fruit Scones
Cheddar Cheese Scones
Little Fruit Tarts with lemon crème filling
Victoria Sponge with home-made preserve & thick double cream
Making a good pot of tea is so important! It can make or break your tea party. Try and get your hands on some loose leaf tea (English Breakfast & Earl Grey are a popular choice). It will give you the 'real tea' experience and will taste so much better compared to everyday teabags.
Firstly warm your teapot with hot water. Drain the water and place as many teaspoons of loose tea as there are people drinking it... so tea for two - put two heaped teaspoons of loose leafs into the pot. You will be surprised how strong the tea can get. Leave the tea to steep for 5-7 minutes - it is important you wait so the flavours are released and you have a great cup of tea!
Pour into your teacup using a tea strainer to catch the loose leaves - add milk/sugar if desired and enjoy!
The location of your party can be anywhere! In your house, garden/field (weather permitting) or even the village hall. It doesn't matter where your party is held - as long as you have good food and great friends your party will be a success!
Why not tell your guests they need to dress up in vintage outfits - or wear a vintage style hat? It makes the experience great fun and you will all look the part. You will be rewarded for your hard work by watching loved ones enjoy your fabulous food and the overall experience!
Other useful tips:
Try to use real, honest ingredients - real butter and good jam will go a long way!
Why not add fresh flowers to your table arrangement - they will look gorgeous and give a splash of vibrant colour to your table.
Having background music really helps the 'party atmosphere' - choose whatever music you're in the mood for and something suitable for the occasion. For example.. I know at my Grandma's tea party we would have some banging rock music on in the background - might not be the most relaxing choice whilst sipping tea and eating scones!
I hope this has been helpful - You can join us every day for an afternoon tea experience in our tearoom, we would love to see you there!