If you're looking for an easy, elegant way to host your next gathering, high tea at home might be just what you need. It's the perfect combination of elegance and comfort that can make any occasion feel special.
Elegant and formal afternoon tea has been around since the 16th century when they were first introduced by Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford. They became popular again during Queen Victoria's reign because she was such an avid fan of them herself. Today we can enjoy these elegant gatherings at our own homes with friends or family members.
A classy afternoon of high tea is the perfect way to spend time with friends and family, but it can be expensive and challenging to pull off if you don't know what you're doing. In addition, you could end up spending hundreds of dollars on supplies for a party that doesn't go well. The good news is that you don't have to go out or spend a lot of money on this fun activity – it can easily be done in your own home.
Learn about what makes an excellent high tea with our guide on everything from table settings and food presentation to etiquette and even recipe suggestions so you can make some of your favourite treats at home. It doesn't matter if this is your first time or if you host these types of gatherings frequently – we have something for everyone. Once you learn more about how it works, you'll feel confident in putting together a fantastic spread that will impress any guest.
How to choose the right location in your home for an afternoon tea party
Afternoon tea is a special occasion, so you want to make sure it's perfect. But where do you host your tea party?
You don't want to have your guests sitting in uncomfortable chairs or at a table that doesn't fit the theme of your party. And if you're hosting outside, there are all sorts of weather conditions that can ruin your experience.
Location is everything when planning an event, and choosing the right location for afternoon tea will ensure that everyone has fun and feels comfortable.
A living room or sunroom makes an excellent place to host a tea party. These rooms tend to have large windows that let in plenty of natural light and offer great outdoor views. They're also usually spacious enough for guests and their teapots.
If the weather is nice, why not take your afternoon tea outside? First, make sure your guests are comfortable by laying blankets and pillows on the ground so they don't have to sit on hard surfaces.
If there's room in your budget, hire someone to set up tables and chairs for you. It will make everything look more formal and elegant. Also, don't forget about flowers. They'll add colour to your table without costing too much money or time spent arranging them yourself.
The etiquette expected at an afternoon high tea
High tea is an elegant tradition that has been around for centuries. It's the perfect way to spend time with family and friends, or even a romantic date. But it can be overwhelming if you don't know what to expect. Here are five key etiquette points to abide by for the perfect afternoon tea:
How to dress
The dress code is smart casual, but that doesn't mean you have to go overboard. You can still be comfortable while looking stylish at the same time.
How to eat scones
Before we get to the food, we must let you know that scones with jam and cream are essential for any successful afternoon high tea. The cream goes on first, never the jam. And they should be broken apart by hand and NEVER sandwiched back together, as that would be uncouth.
Finger sandwiches should always be eaten with your hands, but delicate sweet morsels require utensils.
How to stir your tea
Tea should be stirred by placing the spoon in the 6 o'clock position and gently stirring it towards the 12 o'clock position without touching the sides of the cup. If you do this, you'll get proper-tasting tea every time since all your loose leaf tea leaves are evenly mixed.
Phones switched off
All phones and other devices should be kept off the table, preferably turned off or left at home. This is a formal occasion to enjoy fine food with friends and family. Designate a single person to take snaps for Instagram.
It is customary to raise the pinkie finger as you draw a sip from your tea (or other beverage), and who are we to depart from tradition?
While this is a great way to have fun with loved ones, it is also a formal occasion. Best manners are essential and crass jokes, or expletives should be saved for the next time you hang out at the pub.
The right food to serve
Afternoon tea is a traditional British meal, typically eaten between 4 and 6 pm. It consists of sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, cakes or pastries, and sometimes other savoury items such as eggs or small meat pies. Tea is also included in the menu for this meal. In some cases (like a celebration), it can be served with champagne instead of tea.
Cucumber sandwiches cut into small triangles instead of large ones to fit better on tiny plates (and taste delicious) are a timeless tradition.
Setting the scene: How to make your afternoon tea unforgettable
You want to create an atmosphere where people feel comfortable and welcome, but also elegant and sophisticated.
Make sure everything matches this tone by choosing elegant decorations with soft and muted colours, like light pink or lavender. Flowers in pastel shades are always a good choice because they look beautiful without being too overbearing on the eyes.
For tableware, choose something classic like china or silver, so it looks refined rather than fussy or cheap looking. Finally, don't forget about the music. A playlist full of classical or gentle contemporary pieces will set just the right mood for your guests while they enjoy their afternoon treats at your tea party.
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