In the tea shop where I work, I get a lot of brides-to-be coming in and asking for tips on how to throw tea party themed showers. I think this is a great idea because the Wedding Industrial Complex encourages lavish fine dining excursions which can run you $28 a plate! The art of the tea party is an elegant home-based activity that will cost you half that, so I thought I would write a few tips on this finer cultural practice that seems to be making a comeback:
1. Serve A Variety Of High Quality Loose Leaf Tea
A lot of people are intimidated by any tea that doesn’t have a bag or say “Lipton.” In reality though, brewing loose leaf tea is relatively inexpensive (you can usually get it for four to six dollars an ounce) and requires only a few specialty items. What’s more, loose leaf tea comes in hundreds of exotic varieties that are not typically available in the supermarket and will always be more flavorful than packaged tea because the entire leaf and not just the tips are being used. For a small tea party with friends I recommend starting with at least three teas-one strong black, one novelty flavored tea, and then one decaf option.
2. Serve Colorful, Satisfying Sweets
For a beginner tea party hostess, I always say look to the British for inspiration on what sweets to serve, and then think “the more color the better.” A traditional scone plate can be made to look gourmet with some eatable flowers (of which there are over 100 common garden types) or basil crystals, and can increase the interest in a plate. In fact, it has been proven that adults respond extremely well to colorful dishes, liking at least three color components to each dish. If you are wondering about the varieties of edible flowers available in your region or are pondering where to buy edible flowers, we recommend asking your local nursery or doing a quick Google search.
3. Serve Dainty Savories With Microgreens
Traditional English savories, such as cucumber sandwiches and beans on toast, are anemic options at best. One way to really kick these into high gear however is to garnish them with microgreens. Microgreens are a category of small, colorful flowers and herbs used to punch up the flavors in a dish. Some common ones you’ve probably heard of are arugula, celery, and parsley. If you’re thinking to yourself “oh great, I have no experience with growing microgreens,” don’t fret. I actually don’t recommend growing microgreens on your own as they are fussy and very easy to mess up. For freshest results, bypass your own garden and the supermarket and head to a local nursery with a lot of experience growing microgreens in specialized greenhouse conditions.
4. Think “Uniformity” When Thinking Tea China
You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on authentic bone china to throw a classy tea party. In fact, you can probably find beautiful work nowadays in a more robust, affordable porcelain medium or pick up a set of perfectly good second hand china at the thrift store. The key is to snag a set that matches and has a cohesive color theme. This will give a very polished table read and have your guests talking about your Martha Stewart inclinations for years to come.
Please comment below if this article was helpful to you! I would love to see photos.