» » » How To Host A Traditional Tea Party

How To Host A Traditional Tea Party

posted in: Party Themes | 8

Want to hold a traditional tea party but not sure what to do? Find the food, decor and (of course) tea that you’ll need to make it a success.

How To Host A Traditional Tea Party

A traditional tea party is a perfect setting for an afternoon event that requires some formality, such as a wedding or baby shower…or in our case, a Christmas open house.

The afternoon tea at the Ritz London
The afternoon tea at the Ritz London

This tea party stems from the British tradition of “afternoon tea”.  It involves tea served in a fine china cup and saucer, scones with clotted cream and jam, small watercress and cucumber sandwiches (without crusts) and bite-sized cakes and sweets.

The sweets buffet at our traditional tea party
The sweets buffet at our traditional tea party

Traditionally, this is a sit-down event, but there were too many people to do that for our open house, so our traditional tea party was served buffet-style.

This does add a little more work because the tea in the pots does not stay warm for very long and has to be replaced every 20 – 30 minutes.

Traditional Tea Party Decor

Traditional Tea Party Decor
Traditional Tea Party Decor

Since the afternoon tea is a traditional event, the decor is usually traditional as well.

Roses with baby's breath on the tea serving buffet
Roses with baby’s breath on the tea serving buffet

White tablecloths with lace or embroidery*  set the traditional table.

This is also the perfect time to use your grandmother’s tea set that usually sits in the china cabinet.

Roses in a simple vase add to the elegance
Roses in a simple vase add to the elegance

Simple vases with roses and baby’s breath add a little elegance.

Since we were having a Christmas tea, we also included small evergreen sprays to add a winter touch.

China tea pot with a cup and saucer
China tea pot with a cup and saucer

China tea pots are a must for a traditional tea.

Using cups and saucers from the matching tea set is a very traditional approach.

Using mix and match tea cups is a more eclectic look
Using mix and match tea cups is a more eclectic look

You can also mix-and-match china patterns for a more eclectic look.

In our case, we had to mix and match since we didn’t have enough cups in one china pattern to serve everyone!

It’s All About The Tea

What Kind Of Tea To Use?

Harney & Sons Earl Grey Imperial Tea*

The first step to creating a traditional tea party is to make the perfect tea.  I usually serve a black tea (like Earl Grey*) and a herbal tea (like peppermint* or apple cinnamon) so that guests have a decaffeinated choice.

You could also use a green tea* or make iced tea if you would prefer.

How To Serve The Tea

Tea tastes better served in a traditional tea pot
Tea tastes better served in a traditional tea pot

Tea served from a proper tea pot always tastes better than hot water poured over a tea bag in a cup (although allowing guests to make their own tea in a cup is easier to manage if you are throwing a party for a lot of people).

How To Make The Perfect Tea

There is an art to making tea properly (and tea drinkers swear that this makes a difference to the taste)

Electric Kettle*

1. Fill a kettle with water and turn it on to boil. I like to use an electric kettle*. They usually heat the water faster, and they don’t take up a stove element.

2. In the meantime, heat the serving tea pot by filling it with hot water.

3. When the kettle water is boiling, empty the water from the tea pot.

4. Add 2 tea bags to the tea pot (or 4 teaspoons of tea in a tea ball if you are not using pre-packaged tea).

5. Pour the boiling water from the kettle into the tea pot (over the tea bags).

6. After leaving the tea bags to steep, remove them from the tea pot.  Leave the tea bags in the pot until the tea has reached your desired strength, usually 3 – 5 minutes.

7. Serve hot, along with cream and sugar.

As I mentioned above, the tea does not stay warm in the pot for very long, so if it has been sitting for longer than 30 minutes, you will likely need to make a new batch.


Food For Your Traditional Tea – Scones, Sandwiches and Sweets

The Scones

Scones
Scones

Scones with clotted cream* are a must for a British tea.

You can buy them, but they are actually pretty easy to make yourself.  If you’re looking for a recipe, my Aunt Mary’s scone recipe is the best I’ve ever tasted!

If you’ve never had clotted cream, it’s kind of like a mix between whipped cream and butter…and it is absolutely to-die-for on scones!

The jam and clotted cream on the buffet
The jam and clotted cream on the buffet

If you are doing a buffet, make sure to leave some space on the table for people to put down their plates so that they can add the clotted cream* and jam to their scones.

How to Make Cucumber Sandwiches

Traditional Tea Sandwiches
Traditional Tea Sandwiches

1. Remove the crusts from the bread

2. Cut the bread slices into quarters.

3. Remove the skin from the cucumber so that only the white middle remains.

4. Cut the cucumbers into very thin slices (about 1/8″ thick)

5. Butter the small bread slices.  You can also add mayonnaise if desired.

6. Layer 3 or 4 of the thin cucumber slices on half of the quartered bread slices.

7. Add some watercress if desired.

8. Cover with another of the quartered bread slices.

The Other Sweets

A tray of sweets for the tea party buffet
A tray of sweets for the tea party buffet

You can use pretty much any bite-sized cookie, tart or bar as part of your sweet selection.  Provide 3 – 4 options per person (in addition to the scones).  Here are some ideas for sweets that work well:

The fruit tray on the buffet
The fruit tray on the buffet

Most of all, a tea is a great way for friends to socialize over some goodies (and what could be better than good friends and good food), so have fun with it!

Sharing is caring!

You Might Also Like

8 Responses

  1. Wanda, I came to this post from Pinterest. I love giving, and going out for, afternoon teas. It’s such a treat!

    • Wanda
      | Reply

      Hi Jean…I couldn’t agree more! There’s something about afternoon tea that just makes you want to sit and relax for a little bit. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Rochelle
    | Reply

    High tea was the working mans tea as it was served on a dining room table (a high table) It consisted of meats breads and of course a pot of tea. It is often confused with “afternoon” tea and is which is what you are referring to. This is the tea that consists of finger sandwiches, scones and dainty pastries. People seem to think that “high” means elegant, but it is quite the opposite.

    • Wanda
      | Reply

      Hi Rochelle…Thanks for the clarification! I will update my post.

  3. Anne
    | Reply

    If you have a tea cosy its amazing how long the pot stays hot for.

    • Wanda
      | Reply

      Thanks, Anne! I’m not sure why I never thought of that :)

  4. Ashley
    | Reply

    This is such a feel good post! Loving these ideas. ❤️

    • Wanda
      | Reply

      Thanks, Ashley! It was a fun party :)

Leave a Reply