On my travels this summer, I’ve stumbled upon two homes with beautiful tea setups. Having a porcelain teapot, teacups, and saucers on a beautiful tray is not only a peaceful setting, but it is also an invitation. An invitation to gather among your friends and family for tea and conversation. When the set-up is gorgeous, the tea will taste better. We find ourselves sitting longer, talking more, and enjoying a break from all of the devices that distract us from connecting.
It doesn’t take an expensive teapot and china cups to create a daily tea time ritual or to throw a tea party among friends. Thrift stores are wonderful places to find beautiful and delicate tea settings. Yard and estate sales can also yield magnificent finds.
“Officially certified by the Guinness Book of Records, the $3 million Egoist is the most valuable teapot in the world. A teapot just for one, the Egoist has been donated to the Chitra Collection of historic and contemporary teapots by owner Nirmal Sethia.”
“I designed the Egoist teapot to raise awareness globally of the historic and cultural importance of tea, a magical refreshment that has lasted over millennia and is a part of the fabric of civilisations from the Tang Dynasty to the modern era.”Mr. Sethia
Between three and four in the afternoon, most people feel low in energy levels and seek out a caffeinated boost. Drinking coffee or tea in a take-out cup from a drive-thru can definitely help to perk you up. Yet, it cannot compare to sitting down with china. Having a lovely tea set, even if it doesn’t match, sitting on a tray, can beckon you to enjoy a cup together. Creating a daily time to share tea makes it an experience.
Gather, collect, buy, or borrow the following items:
- Tiny spoons
- Tablecloth and cloth napkins (optional)
- Tea strainer or tea ball (if using loose-leaf teas).
Send invitations. Consider a small guest list of eight or less for more intimate conversations. Choose high-quality paper and hand-write each invitation. Caligraphy is not necessary, however, if you have this skill, consider using this talent for the name and address on the envelope. If you want to be extra fancy, use two envelopes. Seal the first envelope with a wax seal. Metal seals can be ordered with monogram letters and symbols. I derive much pleasure from the process of melting the candle wax onto the closed envelope and pressing down the seal. After it dries, add to another envelope if mailing with the postal service. Otherwise, hand deliver your wax-sealed invitations yourself.
Plan a menu of teas and treats. Suggestions for tea are caffeinated and decaffeinated teas. Choose combinations of tea and plain varieties, such as lavender and green.
If choosing loose-leaf teas, add a tea strainer or tea ball to your list. Loose-leaf teas have a bolder flavor when they are organic and whole leaf. The smaller the cut of tea, the less flavor the tea will yield. Consider buying in bulk from companies you trust, such as You, Me, and Uni for decaf varieties.
It is easy to make your own combination of tea for a tea party with loose-leaf teas. Experiment with flavors on your own and make a list of your favorites to serve. Allowing guests to guide you with their favorites will make for a much more enjoyable afternoon.
If using prepared tea bags, purchase fine teas in tea sachets for a more delightful visual during preparation. Harney & Sons and Mighty Tea Company come to mind for tea sachet choices.
Having a selection of sweeteners is always a good idea when serving tea. I prefer honey, myself. Pour honey in a small bowl with a spoon. Cubes of sugar or tiny flavored sugar balls are beautiful on a small plate or bowl. Marmalade sells rose sugar balls, perfect for a cup of tea. Add small bowls of raw sugar with your sweeteners and don’t forget a tiny spoon.
You can find small milk pitchers, designed for tea and coffee at thrift stores easily. Offering a dairy and dairy-alternative is a good idea. Oat milk and coconut milk, from a can, are rich and creamy and do not separate when added to hot tea, like almond and coconut milk from a carton will do.
Finger foods are preferred to free up one hand to hold a cup of tea at all times. Sample treats for a tea party are:
- Finger-sandwiches: This is a must for tea parties. Use small cookie cutters for shapes, after assembling the sandwich. Crusts should always be removed. Sandwiches should be made with soft, fluffy bread (gluten-free choices are appreciated by some). A simple recipe for cucumber sandwiches would be to add flavored cream cheese with slices of cucumbers and a sprinkling of fresh green herbs, such as cilantro, basil, or parsley.
- Mini-muffins: Use beautiful paper in the pans when baking for ease in removing, with no breakage. Arrange on a cake tray for the table.
- Chocolate truffles: Round, square, dark, milk, and white. Place on a beautiful plate or tray.
- Fresh veggies with dips: For those who want a healthy option, you can’t go wrong with chopped veggies. Add a sour cream dill dip, hummus, or spinach artichoke dip.
Stay tuned for next week’s article: “Hosting a Tea Party”. Check out past editions of You, Me, and Uni articles on tea and tea blends. Create the 10 Best Tea Combinations. Annual Tea Party. The Healing Ritual of Tea.
Trust Your Gut, Know Your Gut and Meditative State of Mind can be purchased through Amazon. For more information on You, Me and Uni, check out the website, created by Master Herbalist, Jennifer Vollbrecht. Browse the herbal tea articles on the site for more tips on the healing benefits and uses for herbal tea.
Anastacia Elizabeth Walden
Freelance writer and editor at Walden Writes For Women, in Gainesville, Florida