Creating a Tea Party Menu

You’ve set a date, created a name or theme for your party, and written up your guest list. Now to create your tea party menu

The general rule of thumb for an “afternoon tea” is that it’s “merely” a light refreshment traditionally consisting of 3 courses. Tea is served first, then sandwiches and savories make up the 1st course. Tea breads, muffins or scones are served in the 2nd course. And the 3rd course is dessert! Eee!

Let’s talk about tea.

First of all, I do not claim any expertise about tea or even traditional tea parties. I don’t know where the teas come from or the history of tea or anything of value like that. I just really like tea and I love the tea parties I’ve been to and hosted in the past. I have my favorite teas and that’s what I generally serve. I don’t drink many caffeinated teas – not because I live in Utah but because I get jittery – and I tend to like the sweeter teas best. So I won’t be much help beyond that. If you’d like more in-depth info about tea, visit http://www.stashtea.com… Onto the menu…

I like to offer 2 different teas before and during the first 2 courses – a fruity, sweeter tea like a berry tea or citrus, and also something like Constant Comment or something more traditional like English Breakfast (depending on my guests).

With the 3rd course or dessert, I like to serve a dessert tea like Chocolate Hazelnut, Vanilla Hazelnut or Honey Vanilla.

You’ll want a variety of “Tea Trimmings”:

  • Lemon slices (not wedges)
  • Half and half (or soy, rice or almond milk if you prefer)
  • Honey
  • Sugar (cubes preferably; and/or alternative sweeteners)
  • Crystallized ginger (I’ve never actually tried this)
  • Mint (fresh peppermint or spearmint leaves to brew with the tea if you want)
  • Preserves (apparently the Russians and Hungarians stir a bit of strawberry or cherry preserves into their cup o tea – I’ve not tried this either)

1st Course – Sandwiches and Savories

As a general rule, when hosting between 3 and 5 guests, serve 2-3 sandwiches or savories. Savories are defined as appetizers or snacks. You could also serve fruit and/or salad with this course. Whatever you choose, you’ll want a variety of choices and the servings should be “sampling” size. Here are some of my personal favorites plus some other variations:

Tea Sandwich variations:

  • Curried chicken with walnuts on white bread
  • Tomato with basil on pumpernickel with pesto mayo
  • Avocado with sprouts and walnuts on whole wheat bread
  • Stilton cheese crumbled over pear slices on oatmeal bread
  • Honey ham with thin pineapple slices on dill bread
  • Asparagus spears with lemon mayo on wheat bread
  • Cream cheese with walnuts on date nut raisin bread
  • Sliced hard-boiled eggs with cracked black pepper and lettuce on wheat bread with herb mayo and pepper on wheat
  • Cucumber and Dill Hearts

2nd Course – Tea Breads, Muffins and Scones: Serve 1-2 types of bread, muffins and/or scones when serving 3 to 5 guests. Not much explanation needed here I think. Again, servings should be “sampling” size for the most part. There’s a lot of room for imagination here, but I don’t have much when it comes to this course. Here are some things I’ve tried though to help get you thinking:

You’ll also want the following things as “trimmings”:

3rd Course – DESSERT!

Dessert is the best part, right? Well, I think so. You can really have fun with this course. This is when you’ll break out the dessert tea, if you wish. When serving 3 to 5 guests, offer 2 to 3 desserts, for the most part served in “sampling” size. I often serve one “show stopping” cake or some such on a pedestal platter along with 2 other finger desserts. The only limit here is your imagination so have fun with it. I’ve included some of my favorites to help you get started:

One more thing, for each additional 2 guests, add one more sandwich type, one more type of bread/muffin/scone and one more dessert… as a general rule. I always have leftovers, but who’s complaining about that.  = )

Also, what I’m sharing here is what I’ve found to be a traditional tea menu. But you can substitute ANYTHING YOU LIKE. This is just a framework. I have been to tea parties with a Chinese theme/food, all very healthy and delicious. One was an Irish theme for St. Patrick’s Day and everything served was either potatoes or green or both. Another entirely different tea party the food was more buffet style, all served at once. There were lots of fruits and veggies, making it a beautiful, colorful spread… So there are no rules here. Just have fun with it!

If you need more inspiration, here are some excellent books I’ve browsed (and some I wish I had) for ideas in the past:

The Book of Afternoon Tea by Lesley Mackley
Having tea: recipes & table settings
by Tricia Foley
The London Ritz book of afternoon tea: the art and pleasure of taking tea
by Helen Simpson
Afternoon Tea
by Susannah Blake and Martin Brigdale
My Very First Tea Party
by Michal Sparks
The Perfect Afternoon Tea Book: Over 70 Tea-Time Treats by Antony Wild
Afternoon Tea Parties by Susannah Blake and Martin Brigdale
The Tea Party Book by Lucille Recht Penner
Princess Tea Parties: Royal Gatherings for Little Ladies by Michal Sparks
Let’s Have a Tea Party!: Special Celebrations for Little Girls
by Emilie Barnes, Sue Christian Parsons, and Michal Sparks
Afternoon Teas: Recipes, History, Menus (Between Friends Cookbook)
by Pam McKee, Lin Webber, and Ann Krum
Afternoon Teas, Homemade Bakes & Party Cakes: Over 150 recipes for delicious home-made treats, with more than 450 colour photographs
by Martha Day
The Perfect Afternoon Tea Book: A Collection of Teatime Treats (Perfect Recipes)
by Lorenz Books
Come to Tea: Fun Tea Party Themes, Recipes, Crafts, Games, Etiquette and More
by Stephanie Dunnewind, Capucine Mazille, and Dan Potash

 

Here are 2 websites that I’ve frequented for ideas and inspiration – some of their information may be used here as well:

http://www.teas2dine4.com/
http://www.windsorteashop.com/

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More Tea Party Planning Ideas…

Posted in Blog Posts, Free Tutorials, Recipes, Tea party, Tutorials Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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