How to Style the Perfect Tea-Party!
As a British expat, and an avid drinker of tea, my American Friends have more than a slight curiosity with my tea-obsession. So, when the time came to plan a Mother's day party for my son's preschool mom group, naturally, they all requested a traditional Afternoon Tea complete with all the trappings of a Fortnum and Mason Soiree.
Now, I do love tea, but I'm more of a builder's brew and choccy-biscuit kinda girl, and when it comes to tea-drinking etiquette, I'm as educated as my American cousins. Thankfully, my dear Mum came through with some sage advice! It was time for a tea-time education.
Firstly, mum noted that we were in-fact planning an Afternoon Tea party, not a High Tea as I first suggested! The party should be held in the afternoon, around 3:00 o'clock, and that bite-sized finger foods should be served in three courses! Secondly, it wasn't an Afternoon Tea without scones, and that they should always be made on the day of serving for optimum freshness and served with clotted cream and strawberry jam! No pressure!
My wonderful friend, Pamela, helped to style the event, and I catered all the goodies; taking a cue from my mum's recipe book and serving up some English staples that even she would be proud of.
Elegant triangle sandwiches with a variety of fillings were delicately arranged on a three-tier stand. Traditional favorites like thinly-sliced cucumber on brown bread with butter, egg salad, coronation chicken (named for our beloved Queen), and ham and mustard all went down delightfully with a cup of golden earl-grey and honey, floral rose tea, and an amber breakfast tea; which were all shipped in from Blighty. Milk first, followed by two lumps of sugar, and steaming-hot tea brewed to perfection was the perfect counterpoint to our bite-sized buffet.
I'm more of a mug-owner, so a quick trip to the local flea-market resulted in a treasure-trove of crockery; mismatched cups and slightly-chipped plates, antique silver teapots, and ornate serving platters all added to the relaxed high-low vibe we were striving for.
As an avid baker, my favorite part of the event-preparation came in creating the dessert table, which was overflowing with rose-scented macarons, homemade profiteroles, lemon and lavender squares, traditional English scones served with lashings of cream and strawberry jam, and a tribute to my host's Southern heritage: a decadent red-velvet cake frosted with cream-cheese icing.
As this was a Mother's day event, mom's and daughter's, and grandmother's and son's all dressed in their Sunday best complete with hats, gloves, and fascinators. Beautiful handmade scented jewelry (provided by Little Hands) was gifted to all the mom's in attendance.
Photography and Dessert Table: Sugar Stream (Rebekah Naomi Wilbur)
Venue: Clever Kids Daycare
Scented Charm Jewelry: Tiny Hands
Edible flowers: Caljava
Beautiful china-sets, serving platters, and tea-cups can be sourced inexpensively from your local thrift stores. We picked up a mixture of patterns and colors for a shabby-chic vibe.
Clean up tarnished silver with ease, simply bring a pot of water to the boil with a sheet of aluminum foil and a tablespoon of baking soda, then dip the silver into the water for 10 seconds, remove and clean. Stubborn tarnish can be removed by rubbing with vinegar, baking soda, and aluminum foil.
For an easy centerpiece, stack different cups in a topsy-turvy manner and add roses and pearls for a vintage look.