Thinking of hosting a tea party? An afternoon tea is of the easiest ways to entertain elegantly. Read more about how to throw an elegant tea party, read more about tea party etiquette, tea party ideas
So you want to host a tea party? Great idea!
Afternoon teas are an excellent way to entertain elegantly.
These little elegant events can be given in honor of visiting friends,
new neighbours or VIPs.
Occasions of celebration such as birthday parties, housewarming parties can also take the form of a tea party.
They are cost effective, yet it can be elegant and formal.
Elegant Invitations For Hosting A Tea Party
The type of elegant invitation should follow the how formal and elaborate your tea party is.
A simple invitation printed on lovely paper may be issued in the mail, using these words.
For an traditional Victorian afternoon tea, invitations are handwritten on tea note cards, which comprises of pictures of charming tea sets, English roses and similar motifs.
Engraved, letter press type of invites can be done by a stationers.
Of course these days, a telephone call or email invite would suffice, depending on the formality of the afternoon tea party.
How To Set The Tea Table
Part of hosting a tea party is learning how to set the tea table.
Tea and tea snacks will be laid on a table covered with white linen tablecloth
(or lace tablecloths) just before the guests arrive.
The tea table is usually set up in dining room, though the mingling of people may not be confined to the dining room.
Prepare two large trays, one for tea and one for the coffee and set them
at both ends of the table.
Even though its a tea party, you should serve coffee for the coffee drinkers. You may also serve hot chocolate.
The cups and saucers are placed at the left of the tray, from the viewpoint of the person pouring the tea. That makes it easy to reach for him or her as tea is usually poured with the right hand unto the cup and saucer held by the left.
What if you don’t have all the trays, table cloth and all that jazz? Host it anyway! 🙂
Elegant Decorating Your Tea Party
Go to the flower shop and get a bouquet of fresh flowers.
Even if they are just a bunch of daisies, they can look very pretty in a glass cup.
If you’ve got some lovely teapots, tea cups from your mother, use them! Don’t save them for special occasions.
How To Serve Tea Properly
Proper Preparation of tea:
Serving of the coffee:
If your dining table is not large enough, you may use a smaller side table.
Hosting a Tea Party Tea Bags Etiquette
The general consensus by all etiquette authors is that a tea bag should never be served in a cup of tea.
Proper tea etiquette is to first brew the tea in a pot before pouring into little tea cups.
When you are served with a cup of tea with a tea bag inside, let it sit inside for 3-4 minutes (assuming that it is freshly made) or however strong you like before removing them with your teaspoon and placing on the saucer.
The strength of the tea can be determined by the colour of the water it makes. The stronger the tea, the darker the colour it will make with the water. Generally, you do not need to put in the tea bag for long if it is a good quality tea.
If you do not have a saucer and a stirring teaspoon to remove the bag, you may simply ask for a teaspoon and a place to remove your teabag to as you “do not like your tea to be too strong.”
Hosting A Tea Party – Tea Party Food
Food for a tea party is mostly sweet — cookies, cupcakes, fruitcake or slices of ice cake, quite different from a cocktail party which is more savoury. However, one should cater to those without a sweet tooth, providing tea sandwiches and scones perhaps.
Because a tea party is literally self-serve, it is possible to give a formal tea without serving help. You may do the entire set up on your own but just make sure you have sufficient boiling water for making tea for all your guests.
That is why afternoon teas are so wonderful!
Hosting A Tea Party – How To Make Good Tea
The most important part of the tea service is having plenty of boiling water.
The procedures for making good tea are as follows:
- Heat the teapot with boiling water first, the pour it out, leaving an empty hot teapot.
- Then put place some tea leaves in, depending on the quality of tea, you’ll use that to determine how much to out in.
- Pour boiling water to about an inch in the pot. Let it diffuse for five to eight minutes and longer for a stronger tea, before filling it up with more boiling water.
- To serve different “strengths” of tea from the same pot, pour half tea, half boiling water into the cups of those who prefer their tea weak.
- Using that measure, you can control the “strength” of the tea you serve.
Emily Post Etiquette on Hosting a Tea Party
The following is referenced from Emily Post’s Etiquette, 17th Edition (Thumb Indexed)
“The cup of good tea should be too strong without the addition of a little lively boiling water which gives it freshness.”
When tea has to stand a long time, the ideal way is to make a strong infusion in a big kettle on kitchen stove.
Let the tea actually boil three to four minutes on the range, then pour it through a sieve or filter into your hot teapot. The tea will not become bitter, and it does not matter if it gets quite cold.
The boiling water poured over no more than the tablespoonful of such tea will make the drink hot enough.
How To Pour The Tea
When hosting a tea party, one may wonder “Who pours the tea?”
The pouring is done by close friends or the host or the party giver.
Of course, if you are a close friend, you’ll ask if you can “do the honours”.
It is a good idea to help out when a friend has been pouring tea for others for more than half and hour.
In the book, “If Teacups Could Talk”, Emilie Barnes says
The cream goes first into the cups. (or milk)
Then the sugar, which is supposed to be in cube form only, goes in next. (I personally don’t think it matters).
Of course before that you’ll ask how many sugars your guests want.
Then you finally pour in the brewed tea.
How do I ask for a cup of tea?
Each person walks up to the table and says, “May I have a cup of tea please?”
The one pouring should smile and answer, “Certainly, how do you like it? strong or weak?” would you like cream or lemon?
If the visitors says, “Weak”, boiling water is added, and according to guest’s wishes, sugar, cream or lemon. If the guest prefers coffee, he or she asks for it at the other end of the table.
If you are not too busy pouring and the guest is alone, you make a few pleasant remarks. Do not hold up the line if the tea table is busy
But if there are a number of guests around the table, you need to only smile as you hand each guest a cup of coffee or tea.
Tea Party Guest Etiquette
Even if you are not hosting a tea party, as a tea party guest, there is some etiquette required of you.
Proper Tea etiquette requires the hostess and her guests to dress up, as a sign of respect and honour to the special occasion or the person you are honouring.
As a guest, never overload your plate. There is no limit to going back to help yourself to the food.
Tea Etiquette Tip For Stirring
When you stir, you should not make a clanking stirring sound with your tea spoon.
It can be distracting. Instead, stir your tea without touching the ‘walls’ of the cup. The tip of your spoon touches the bottom of the cup though, because otherwise it would be impossible to stir.
Hosting A Tea Party Etiquette
Tip For Hostess
Being the elegant hostess, you’ll introduce your guest of honour
to your guests as they arrive.
As a guest, like all good party etiquette, when you are ready to leave, you simply thank your host and say good bye to the guest of honour before you take your leave.
Other than those ‘protocols’, everything else is kept very casual.
Guests freely move around the room, helping themselves to food and tea and
talking to everyone whether formally being introduced or not.