Afternoon tea

Hi everybody. I was looking for advice about hosting an afternoon tea party. How formal should this be? Should the sandwiches have the crusts cut off, or is this being too fussy? This seemed a good place to ask, as I’m sure many members have experience of it.

One of my favorite things. I don’t know how much time you have to prepare, but if you can find them, I have two good books which I use to prepare for a tea. [I]An Invitation to Tea[/I] by Emilie Barnes (she also has one for children which is lost in the mess of my daughters room so I can’t find the title) and [I]Taking Tea[/I] by Andrea Israel. As far as how formal or informal that is completely up to you. Personal preference and how special you want to make it.

I love afternoon tea! I just love those little crustless cucumber sandwiches. Maybe Martha Stewart’s website would have ideas for you?

Afternoon Tea, or “High Tea” as it is often called, is usually served between 3 and 5 p.m. The “formality” of the occasion is up to you.

Tea is served in proper china tea cups, [B]not mugs[/B]! Sugar is usually sugar cubes served in a proper lidded sugar dish with sugar tongs for serving; milk/cream and/or lemon are always offered in little pitchers for flavouring one’s tea.

Usually sandwiches are served. These are [U]crustless[/U] sandwiches (cucumber comes to mind most here but it could be egg salad, tuna salad, cream cheese, ham, anything dainty!) or ribbon sandwiches (also [U]crustless[/U], cream cheese and watercress comes to mind most here but it could be any filling of your choice). I have seen ribbon sandwiches made with layers of filling between different colours of bread, which is a very nice presentation for your tea party. I have also seen sandwiches made of bread with the crusts cut off so that the piece of bread is rectangular, then covered with peanut butter, then take a whole banana and lay is side to side on the bread at the top end, roll the bread around the banana, once that is done, cut so that the banana is in the center and surrounded by rounds of bread and peanut butter. I have also been to tea where they have served open faced sandwiches, which gives you the choice of dressing them up a bit and making them look really cute. These are [U]always crustless[/U] sandwiches!

There are usually also a variety of scones with clotted cream and perserves and sweet treats such as bite sized brownies, rum balls, tiny tarts, petit fours, and meringues served with tea. Remember to keep everything dainty!!!

As for the tea, usually Earl Grey is the best choice, I have found. When I serve “High Tea” I always use linen napkins, serve the treats on fancy dishes and use proper tea cups with saucers ([B]NOT MUGS[/B]). High Tea is usually served as a sit down meal rather than a buffet, but it would depend how many people you have coming, if this is an option for you.

I don’t know what your tea party is for but I hope you have a really good time!

Crust less if you want a proper Tea Party and like ‘The Knitter’ said, it [I][B]has [/B][/I]to be cups and saucers.

I’d love to go somewhere that serves old-fashioned ‘Afternoon tea’. I get through gallons of the stuff I don’t drink much coffee any more.

Good look with your party I’m sure it’ll be lovely no matter what you decide to do.

I don’t like tea parties. Well, I’ve never been to one. Actually, I’ve never eaten a cucumber sandwich.
In England we don’t do tea parties. It smacks too much of hoity-toity la-di-da. I hate those tea rooms you find in small towns. You have to be at least 65 to go in, preferably in a couple, able to speak without making any noise, and the women usually need a perm and blue rinse. I love that scene in “Withnail and I” where they go, drunk, into the Penrith Tea Rooms and threaten to buy it up and put in a jukebox.
And does anyone actually raise their little finger while drinking tea?

I’d love to go somewhere that serves old-fashioned ‘Afternoon tea’. I get through gallons of the stuff I don’t drink much coffee any more.
go to browns in london, its a tad on the pricey side but sooo worth it. they do the oldfashioned cucumber sandwhiches with the crusts off etc. there divine Ohhh so going to see dp in london soon now and he can take me there hehe

yup though afternoon tea can be as formal as you want it to be. cups and saucers are a must. you can put everything on sliver trays as well, tahts the olden day style, that looks georgous.

i found this, dont know if it’ll help

good luck

I always wanted to know about “afternoon tea”. What happens to dinner then?

I think it sounds fun. It is becoming very popular again, isn’t it. With all the people buying tea sets, it must be. One thing is for sure, don’t let the bread dry out. I love the cream cheese sandwiches, but I love anything with cream cheese. lol Have fun!

Jeremy, it used to be that they would have “High Tea” between 3 and 5 and then have supper much later in the evening. I don’t know if that is still the case.

You don’t have to drink with your little finger up but it just kind of goes that way when you’re holding a small fragile cup.

I’ve been a guest in several homes of British ex-pats who will, on occasion, make up a ‘high’ tea for friends and family. It’s not just sandwiches, they serve delicious little pastries and cakes as well. They also serve both tea and coffee, with lots cream and sugar for those who want it. It’s so much fun to sit around for an hour or so, eat and chat, the go for a walk or drive. We will then go out to dinner at eight or so. Very very civilized!

It seems so many of the nicer aspects of life have disappeared such as high tea. I’ve been to a few tea rooms, and not all the women, and some men too, are permed with blue rinse on their hair. I’ve seen some young and very stylishly dressed younger people which makes my heart feel good.

As Dbkcs said it makes for a very, very civilized gathering of friends and/or family unlike the chips and dips. Both have their place. I hope you have a fine tea, and yes, never mugs, but those lovely tea cups and lots of dainty, finger-type food for the most part. Enjoy your tea party. :thumbsup:

Britain is a class society, although there are those who would deny this. The use of different names for meals has always reflected the class of the person.
Afternoon tea (which is what we are talking about here) was taken in the afternoon between 4 and 5 and was never a habit of the working class, the majority of the population, because they were at work. But it got very famous and “traditional” because that was what was potrayed in many books and, of course, spread throughout the Empire.
High tea was an evening meal, a bit more substantial. The main meal of the day was called dinner and was taken in the middle of the day.
Nowadays so many people are out all day and don’t go home in the middle of the day so the main meal has shifted to the evening and is called dinner or supper. Lunch is the modern name for the midday meal.
However, if you visit England and go outside London and hotel life, particularly in the north of the country, you will find that they still call the midday meal dinner (even if it’s a packed lunch) and their evening meal tea. Afternoon tea as such has never featured in the life of most working people - although everyone does usually stop “for a cuppa” at some point, maybe with a biscuit or two, just like you probably help yourselves to a coffe.

Thought I’d throw a small interesting tidbit in here–a large group people in the mountains of East Tennessee (when I live–born & raised) have Scotch-Irish ancestry. A lot of the older people still pronounce alot of words with a Scotch infliction-“hit” for “it”, etc.
My family always called lunch “dinner” and dinner “supper”. It used to confuse my northern cousins terribly.
OK now back to you regularly scheduled message board. :teehee:

Hubby and I often stop for ‘Afternoon tea’ around 3:30. We’ll have a cuppa and cake, or a small sarnie. Dinner is then between 6-7pm.

I don’t think it’s right about tea rooms just being for the older people. Hubby and I are (I’m 29, he’s 36 and we’re certainly [I][B]not [/B][/I]upper class) will have a pot of tea in the tea room in town. We’re not the youngest there.

I live in South Wales, we usually say lunch, tea and dinner. Hope this helps Jeremy! :waving:

Thanks to everyone who replied. If anybody’s puzzled by the word “sarnie” in the last post, it means “sandwich.” Nobones, we lived in Pembrokeshire, South Wales until 2006, and were used to seeing Welsh cakes in every food shop and supermarket. They’re ideal for afternoon tea. Since moving to Lancashire, we haven’t seen a single one! I may have to resort to making our own. I once got invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace, for no better reason than that my date of birth was the day the Queen succeeded to the throne - February 6th 1952. I couldn’t go, sadly, so missed out on her legendary cucumber sandwiches (without crusts, of course).

Thanks for interpreting for me! :teehee: I could have said a buttie! Then no one who have had a clue what I was on about. Indeed yes, sorry folks; sarnie-buttie = sandwiches. I know, why don’t we just say sandwich? Who knows.

Pembrokeshire is not far from me, I’m in Newport Gwent. I could go long without welsh cakes so I’d have to try making my own, although it wouldn’t be a pretty site.

I have to admit that I tried making them once before, but they were a bit greasy, completely unlike the shop-bought ones. We also had a Newport in Pembrokeshire, which had quite a nice beach, an amazing curio shop; and, now I think of it, a lovely tea room. Welsh tea rooms are usually very individual, and an essential feature of any visit. :slight_smile:

You cant beat the tea rooms in wales, i love them :heart: .

Even far far better than the devon and cornish once for me (i used to live in devon so had to try a fair few).

In the new Debbie Bliss magazine they have a recipe for scones and cream. Check it out.