When was the last time you truly cherished an aromatic and enticing cup of afternoon tea? If it wasn’t yesterday, it’s surely been too long. Afternoon tea is one of life’s little niceties and can make any day more gracious and serene. If you’re unsure how to go about presenting the perfect tea party for your favorite friends, do read on. We’re going to tell you everything you need to know about afternoon tea.
Do the Brits do it best?
When you hear the phrase ‘afternoon tea’ what image comes to mind? If you’re like many people, you envision well-mannered English ladies lingering over a ‘cuppa’ rich, flavorful tea. With cream or without, sweetened or sans sugar, afternoon tea offers a wonderful peek back to a more gracious and relaxed way of living.
A typical tea party in the British Isles presents aromatic tea brewed just so, along with an assortment of light snacks, ladylike sandwiches, and sweet baked goods. There isn’t a set rulebook to guide your baked selections, but you can do quite well by serving scones with jam, prettily iced petit fours, lemon pastries, thin sweet cookies, and flaky tea biscuits, notes British Broadcasting Corporation TV show, Good Food.
Avoid serving soggy sandwiches when you prepare your fillings in advance and stow them in covered containers in your refrigerator. Assemble sandwiches just prior to guest arrival, and you’ll never worry about wet bread again. Perfect fillings for afternoon tea sandwiches include shredded carrot and raisin with hummus and mint on deeply brown bread and open-face sandwiches piled high with smoked salmon and sliced avocado on rye. Both are a nice twist on traditional English tea sandwiches.
To caffeine or not to caffeine
If you desire an afternoon pick-me-up, go for a typically caffeinated tea. Selections include Ceylon silver tips tea, golden monkey black tea, and bergamot-infused Earl Grey. White teas are a lovely option for guests who prefer something with little caffeine. Specialty tea shops such as Teavana offer a splendid assortment of white teas blended with fruits and flowers for an extra boost of healthful antioxidants.
Cups, saucers, tea sets, and table linens
Martha Stewart recommends tea service to turn practically any gathering into a grown-up party. In summertime, lighten things up when you offer tall tumblers, a bucket of ice with tongs, and a selection of garnishes such as lemon wedges, ribbons of lemon peel, fresh spearmint or peppermint leaves, and single-serving sugar cubes.
As far as your tea set is concerned, haul out your grandma’s antique silver service, or shop thrift stores to find an eclectic assortment of mismatched cups and saucers that work together wonderfully. Remember, the most imperative factors of afternoon tea are relaxation, grace, and camaraderie.
Don’t overtax yourself or wear yourself out. Delegate cake and sandwich duties to other guests, if pulling it all together starts to feel like stress to you. Invite an amusing array of guests with varied interests to keep the conversation lively and engaged.