Have you ever wanted to throw your own afternnon tea party ? This british tradition is a very good opportunity to have a gathering to catch up with friends. In order to make this event a success, find all the tips you need to choose the best tableware and prepare the best service at home for a both unforgettable and delectable tea time.
What is afternoon tea exactly ?
Afternoon Tea, the quintessence of British customs, is a tea-related tradition that appeared in the mid 19th century in Britain. The concept is simple : it is a light meal served generally between 3 pm and 5 pm with the best chinaware and crockery, its purpose is to stem the hunger and anticipation of the late evening meal at 8pm.
Generally, the Afternoon Tea is a meal composed of scones with clotted cream and jams (apricot or strawberry jam, lemon curd), sweet pastries and cakes ( Battenberg cake, Victoria sponge, scottish shortbread) and savoury sandwiches (egg, smoked salmon, cress or cucumber sandwiches cut into delicious fingers or triangles), and of course served with tea. Usually, Tea grown in India or Ceylon is poured from silver or porcelain tea pots in fine bone china tea cups.
Nowadays, this kind of tea parties is a fashionable social event mostly celebrated occasionnaly in a hotel for events like birthdays, pre-wedding lady parties, baby showers and so on. But it can be a very expensive hobby, hence we suggest you throw your own tea-party once in a while rather to book a table in a hotel.
How to serve afternoon tea ? The complete dinnerware set to throw an afternoon tea-party with panache
It’s now time to put some tea in the pot, arrange generously some pastries and sandwiches on the table and host the best afternoon tea party at your place.
You don’t know which tableware to choose ? No problem, we give you all the tips you need to avoid any faux-pas in choosing your afternoon tea service !
- Tea service
The first step is to have a beautiful stainless steel, bone china or porcelain tea service. Treat yourself a tea set that includes a tea pot, teacups and saucers. Usually, fine porcelain or bone china are recommanded to give a very vintage old-fashioned and exquisite british style to your table, though some prefer to choose a stainless steel tea pot.
Don’t overlook the tea, it is as important as the food that you serves, if not more. Among top tea varieties for an afternoon tea, you will find Earl Grey tea, Assam Black tea, Ceylon Black tea, Oolong Leaf Teas, Sri Lanka orange Pekoe, Darjeeling First Flush Black Tea, Lapsang Souchong, Rooibos, White tea, there is a wide variety of teas you can choose from.
For a more decadent event, you can even serve your pastries with a glass of champagne or any sparkling wine !
- Tableware and cutlery
In order to serve all the little snacks (scones, sandwiches, pastries), choose small dessert plates that are matching your porcelain tea set. The safe move is to choose a set of white porcelain round dessert plates, but plates with refined and delicate floral pattern will also fit.
Do not forget to have a complete set of stainless steel cutlery for the service : teaspoon, dessert spoon, forks, butter knife and so on.
- Table accessories
Don’ forget, all the small essential items that an afternnon tea party requires like a beautiful sugar dispenser, a cream pot, a milk pot, a butter dish, some jam pots.
An of course set the scene with good taste, choose a beautiful table cloth, some matching napkins and don’t hesitate to decorate the table with small candles or a beautiful flower bouquet that will add an extra sprinkle to your setting.
- Cake Stand
Last but not least, do choose a tiered cake stand as the centerpiece of your table to present your scones, finger sandwiches and other treats. The cake stand is definitely the ultimate cult object that embodies the Afternoon Tea tradition. Revolving display stand, footed round server cake stand, porcelain cake plate with a glass dome,rotating base cupcake stand or 2 or 3 tier cake stand, you ‘ll find a wide variety of models to display with charm all your treats.
Don’t forget the basic principle: there are 3 dishes that are essential during a standard afternoon tea : a layer of sandwiches, a layer of freshly baked scones and a layer of individual-portions cakes ! On the other hand, you can add other dishes such as crumpets, macarrons, muffins, brioche and all the delicacies you like.