Hosting a Tea Party

I adore tea parties, and there are few activities more fun than Hosting a Tea Party in your own home! Pretty dishes on a beautifully set table. Gorgeous flowers, and food so luscious you hardly dare to eat it.

Best of all, you’re creating fond, new memories with your dearest friends and loved ones. And what can be more special than that? Come on, Let’s Have Tea!

Birthday Tea Party

birthday celebration tea

Start Planning

One of the first things I like to do when planning a tea party is to figure out my theme. Consider who will be invited, and if children are on your guest list, keep them in mind. Memories are being created here.

For invitations, set the date and time. Include a dress code, or if you want guests to bring an item, such as food or a cup and saucer to use as a place setting.

Also consider printed items–place cards, a menu, or even table talk activities or games. Canva is a great resource for creating such items.

Party favors are not necessary, but they are always appreciated. Something as simple as chocolate, a paper napkin formed into a rose, or even a pretty menu card will make your guests smile. 

There is much about tea parties online, but I also like to grab inspiration from tea books and TeaTime Magazine. If interested, download my Free PDF Tea Party Checklist from the link below.

Tea Party - Planning a Tea Party Photo collage

Time for Tea

Elevenses – equal to a late-morning snack with tea and scones or biscuits.

Afternoon Tea (or Low Tea) – a lovely table laid out with scones, little tea sandwiches, and small desserts on a three-tired stand. Think Downton Abbey. This tea is often served in a parlor on a “low” table such as a coffee table, from 2-5 PM. This is what you’ll find in America, especially in tea rooms.

High Tea – held early evening (between 5 and 7) by the “working class” who may not have taken an afternoon lunch. Thus, a hearty meal after work with tea, sandwiches, and soups, is served on a “high” kitchen table.

Tea Party Savories

Begin with Savories

I like to begin a tea by serving savories, usually three items that include small sandwiches and canapes. If possible, try to garnish the sandwiches with fresh herbs or thinly sliced vegetables for a pop of color and eye-appeal.

As you select items for your savory course, consider guest’s preferences or food requirements (if you have that knowledge). For instance, I know that my daughters do not care for salmon, so I try to stay away from such recipes, even though salmon is a wonderful choice for tea. If a guest is gluten intolerant, offer items for her to enjoy as well. You may also want to add “extras” on your table, such as celery with peanut butter, baby carrots, sweet gherkin pickles, or green and black olives.

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Tea Party Tablescapes Photo Collage

Setting a Tablescape

Once you’ve set a theme, it’s time to consider your table. What tablecloth will you use? And what about dishes, glassware, flatware, and napkins? 

Now is the time to bring out your fine linens. Cloth napkins are considered appropriate for a tea party, but if you are inviting a lot of guests, feel free to use pretty paper napkins (or even disposable plates.) Or borrow dishes from your mom or grandmother. 

Next, decide on a flower arrangement and other table decorations. For flowers, you may go with artificial or a fresh bouquet. Always consider the height, as you’ll want to see over the arrangement to visit your guests.

For even more ambiance, add some candles, or plan music to play softly in the background during the tea. Classical music works well for this, and Pandora is a great place to find it.

Tea Party Scones

Serve Scones with clotted cream and jam

Scones are one of the most treasured items on your tea party menu. If you’re serving a plain scone, be sure to offer Lemon Curd, Clotted Cream, and a favorite jam to go with them. This is not necessary if your scones are sweet, although I personally think clotted cream is excellent on any scone.

Nice additions to go with Scones are chocolate covered almonds, pistachios, roasted almonds, or English walnuts.

Tea Party Sweets

Small decadent treats

When considering the desserts to serve at your tea party, think small, individually-sized items. Mini tarts, cakes, shortbread cookies, madeleines, or macarons are perfect choices. The fancier the better. To make things easier, you could purchase tea cookies or cakes to blend in with a few homemade recipes. Aldi Grocery Store offers a wonderful selection of items that are perfect for tea parties. And, if you’re planning a celebration tea, you might consider a show stopper cake for the finale!

Tea Party Beverages

Last, decide what drinks to serve at your party. I recommend loose leaf tea, if possible, which is much more flavorful than tea bags. For fun, offer one tea for each course as a way to experience as many tea flavors as possible.

Choose between black, green, white, and oolong teas, or herbal tisanes. Classic afternoon choices are Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Darjeeling, or a scented tea with jasmine, lavender, or rose. Good herbal choices are mint, chamomile, or hibiscus.

Offer a cold beverage to help guests cool down between courses. Mint lemonade and sparkling drinks like Prosecco are lovely options.

Tea Brewing Times

When it’s time to serve tea, brew teas at the proper temperature to get the best flavor.
It makes a difference.

Green Tea
1-2 Minutes

White/Oolong Tea
2-3 Minutes

Black Tea
3-5 Minutes

Herbal Tisane
5-6 Minutes

Below are a few of my favorite loose leaf teas from places I like to shop. Harney and Sons offers free shipping on every order, and Tealyra has a bountiful selection of teas from around the world. Twinings is my American option for England’s finest teas. (As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.)

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Twinings of London
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