Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Love Affair with Afternoon Tea {Tips on Hosting an Afternoon Tea}

Afternoon tea is one of my favorites get-together theme during the holidays. Whether I am expecting a couple of guests or a dozen, I go all out in preparing the table, the food and of course the teas. To me, sipping warm delicious teas among friends is always an affair to remember.

Just because the tradition of afternoon tea is associated with elegance and royalty, some are intimidated to host afternoon tea at home. Let me put out a disclaimer : I am not a tea connoisseur. But thanks to my love of teas, visits to traditional tea houses, and reading tea books and magazines, I developed a love affair with this beautiful tradition. Allow me to share some helpful tips when hosting an afternoon tea.


I prefer to serve an afternoon tea from 3:30 - 6:00 PM. That will give me and my friends enough time to enjoy the feast and catch up on the "stories of our lives".


When flowers are in bloom during spring and summer, the garden would be perfect for an afternoon tea party. During the colder months and depending on the number of your guests, the set up can be done indoors : the dinning room, family room or receiving area {parlour}.

Table Set-Up

My rule is keep it simple and elegant. As much as possible use what you already have in your stash or get your creative juices working and make your own center piece arrangement, napkin holder, etc.

Must Haves:

  • Tea cups and saucers - do not worry about not having a matching tea service. Mixing and matching what you already have and maybe some purchase from your local thrift store, flea market and garage sale can create a beautiful shabby chic design.
  • Small Tea pots - I always have at least three on hand. This way, I can serve at least three different kinds of teas with ease. Again, it doesn't have to be matching with your tea cups.
  • Loose-leaf tea steepers
  •  Serving trays with one or two tiers. These are not only practical to serve your savory and sweet treats but the height also add elegance to your table setting.
The Spread

There is no really hard and fast rule when it comes to food. However, a traditional afternoon tea comprises a layer of savoury finger sandwiches {cucumber and cream cheese, egg salad, ham, and salmon}, a layer of cakes and/or sweet pastries or petit fours and a layer of scones.

I also love to included out of the box treats like pulled pork in mini puff pastry shell and chicken Waldorf in mini crispy wanton {recipes to follow}.

The key is being creative without spending too much time in  preparing the spread. Remember, you want to spend your time with your friends on the table instead of  the kitchen.

The Teas

More than the food, the kinds of teas I will serve my guests is my priority. As much as possible I serve only loose-leaf teas that can be brewed individually via tea steepers or in a pot. Remember, the water must come to a complete boil to really extract the real tastes from the tea. Also, steeping  is important and for each tea there is a proper steep time. 

Generally, black teas take longer to steep that green teas {4 minutes for black teas and 3 minutes for green teas}.

For my afternoon teas, I normally served three kinds to accompany the scones. the savoury sandwiches and the sweet treat. Like a tea pairing if I may call it. In this day and age, quality loose-leaf teas are sold in reputable stores - from the simple English breakfast tea to the more exotic tea blends. Personally, my usual tea parings would be :

Scone Course
Vanilla bean scones {find related recipe here}
Honeyed Mascarpone cream
Tea pairing : African rooibos tea

Savoury Course
Cucumber with lemony cream cheese sandwich
Egg salad sandwich
Chicken and walnut salad on mini crispy wanton
Tea pairing : Green tea with jasmin and lavender flowers

Sweet Course
Petit Fours
Tea pairing : Ice wine tea

Don't forget to put cream, sugar, lemon and honey on the table for those who prefer them.

This & That

Add more personal touch to your afternoon tea gathering by making a simple place card with a little note for your friends. It makes a nice conversation piece that your guests truly appreciate.

Alcoholic beverage like Bellini or Champagne also makes your afternoon tea an affair to remember.

Enjoy! That what tea afternoon is all about!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...