The tradition of afternoon tea began with the upper class of England sometime in the 1830’s or 1840’s. Fortunately, afternoon tea isn’t just for royals anymore. Now anyone can enjoy a cup of steaming hot tea with their family and friends. Learning how to host a tea party the traditional way can make anyone feel fancy. Whether you’re hosting a tea party for fun or for a special occasion, you’ll be taking part in an elegant tradition.
Don’t be intimidated by the preparations needed to host a tea party. Our simple guide will walk you through all the steps you need to take to get ready.
Learn Tea Party Etiquette
Learning tea party etiquette can be helpful if you’re hosting a formal tea party. Since you’re the host, you’ll be the role model for the rest of your guests. These are some of the most essential rules to make your tea party proper:
- Lift your saucer only when you’re standing. When you stand with your saucer, hold your cup and saucer in separate hands.
- Refrain from laying your spoon on top of your saucer or table. The tea could create a stain on the tablecloth.
- Eat scones with your hands, not with a fork and knife.
- Place the sugar spoon back in the bowl of sugar after you’re done with it.
Invite Your Friends
The first step to hosting a tea party is choosing a date and inviting your friends. Tea parties can be small or large, but a smaller group usually feels cozier. Your tea party can be as extravagant a royal’s would be or it can just be an informal gathering.
Choose to be casual and have your invites sent electronically, or be more official with an invite sent by mail. Make sure to personalize and design your own invites to impress your friends and set the scene for your afternoon tea. You can even send a teabag along with the invites to entice your guests to join your party.
Create a Menu
Now for the most important part of your gathering: having plenty of tea! You should have a wide variety of loose leaf tea instead of bagged tea–Earl Grey, English breakfast, chamomile, green, and oolong tea are some classic flavors that your guests are bound to enjoy. You can also add in a decaf tea for any guests who prefer caffeine-free tea.
Don’t forget to serve some of your favorite teas as well. Having your guests try new and unique teas is part of the fun.
Your menu shouldn’t end with just teas either–it should have some food as well. The food you choose should pair nicely with your tea selection.
Scones are probably the most popular food served at a tea party. They can have a flavor ranging from sweet to plain. You have a lot of options when it comes to scone recipes–baked cheddar, cinnamon, or scrumptious buttermilk scones.
Finger or tea sandwiches are another great choice if you’re planning a tea party. Your finger sandwiches can come with a variety of ingredients like egg salad, cucumber, roast, beef, smoked salmon, and more.
Sweets are commonly found at tea parties too. Madeleines, sponge cakes, trifles, cupcakes, and cookies will be sure to satisfy your guests with a sweet tooth.
Set the Table
As the big day approaches, you’ll be starting your tea party set up. Set a table properly and create a decorated space to provide a sophisticated setting for your afternoon tea party.
Lay down a beautiful tablecloth that matches your theme. Set the teapot close to you, as you’ll be the one hosting and serving the tea to your guests.
Place your bowls of sugar and carafes of cream around the table so guests can easily access them. Other guests might prefer to add brown sugar, honey, and milk to their tea, so these sweeteners should also be placed on the table.
Set your food on a three-tiered cake stand. Place sandwiches on the lowest level, scones and muffins go on the second shelf, and desserts should be on top. Avoid serving heavy food–your guests should be able to have enough room in their stomach to eat from every row of food.
Direct your guests to their seats with personalized name cards. When they sit down, they should see a saucer, teaspoon, teacup, a small plate for food, a napkin, and utensils in front of them.
You may want to consider adding a centerpiece that goes along with your theme. For example, if your afternoon tea party is during fall, place pumpkins in the center of your table. Salt and pepper shakers, jam, flowers, and candles can also be a nice touch to your tea party.
Serve the Tea
Your guests are expecting a nice cup of hot tea. To make your tea stay warm, add boiling water to your teapot prior to brewing the tea. Once the pot is hot, you can add tea leaves to the pot.
Pour more hot water into your teapot and let it steep. Don’t forget to strain the leaves before pouring the tea for your guests.
Sit Back and Sip Tea
The party has begun–relax, drink tea, and enjoy yourself! Tea parties can also be a fun opportunity to drink tea and have interesting conversations with your guests. You can even turn on some calm background music that you and your guests can all appreciate.
When your tea party is over, hand out party favors. They don’t have to be too expensive either. Throw some teaspoons, infusers, a small jar of jam, and some extra tea in a cute bag and give them to guests before they leave.
Knowing How to Host a Tea Party Elegantly
When you know how to host a tea party the proper way, you can ensure an authentic and fun experience for your guests. With delicious food, a variety of tea, unique decorations, your guests will be looking forward to your next tea party.
Need some tea suggestions for your upcoming afternoon tea party? Check out our list of some of the most beautifully scented teas you can find.