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Host a tea party

Host a tea party

If you’re lucky enough to be in Britain on April 21, you’ll be able to celebrate National Tea Day the way the Brits do—in tea rooms, hotels, pubs, and cafes all over the United Kingdom.

But if you’re on this side of the pond, you can still partake in what we think is a pretty wonderful thing. Any time is a good time to enjoy a “cuppa’’ with your friends, whether it’s a group of your besties or just tea for two with your best buddy.

Here are some tips for hosting a tea party:

Pick a theme
There’s so much to celebrate this time of year in addition to National Tea Day. You can salute spring, observe a baby or bridal shower, honor a birthday, celebrate Mother’s Day, or just acknowledge that it’s a Friday. Another option for a theme is a classic Mad Hatter tea party taken straight from the pages of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Rebecca Proctor, our creative director and chief brand officer,  offers a few thoughts on Carroll and our links to him here.

Whatever the theme, pick decorations that reflect it. Spring is a perfect time for pretty pastels that could be reflected with your choices in table decor and floral arrangements. If it’s a bigger celebration, go all out and put something festive overhead, especially if you’re indoors. Try draping pennant-shaped banners, hanging open umbrellas upside down, or helium balloons that are covered with light and airy tulle fabric, tied with ribbon bows.

Check your equipment
If you’re hosting a tea party for more than two, you’ll need to think about having enough equipment, starting with tables and chairs. Check as well on your supply of teacups, saucers, spoons, serving pieces, and teapots. We’d like to suggest tiered serving pieces, like our sweet stands and cake stands, which let you stylishly present cakes, cookies, and tea sandwiches while saving on display space on the table. We even have pint-sized versions—a Tea Party Sweet Stand, a Tea Party Tea Set, plus a Tea Party Cart—that are perfect for your youngest guests, too.

Making tea
Obviously, hosting a tea party means making tea and offering milk or cream, sugar, and lemon to accompany it. As for teas, classic choices include Earl Grey, Darjeeling, chamomile, and mint. It’s also a good idea to provide herbal or decaf tea for your guests who prefer a caffeine-free version, as well as iced tea or lemonade.

To make a proper cup of tea, fill the tea kettle with cold water, which has more oxygen in it than warm water, resulting in fresher-tasting tea. Bring the water to a boil and then let it rest for a few minutes while you warm your teapot by adding hot water from the tap and swirling it around. Pour that water out and then add the tea. If you are using tea bags, add one bag for each cup of tea to the teapot. With loose tea, add 1 teaspoon per cup and 1 teaspoon for the pot. Pour in the hot water from your kettle, stir, and allow the tea to steep for a few minutes for the fullest flavor. Additional information on tea, including how to store tea bags and loose tea properly, can be found here.

More on the menu
Serve bite-sized treats that are sweet (cookies, scones or cupcakes) or savory (small sandwiches or cucumber hors d’oeuvres). If you’d like to have activities (other than drinking tea), include a classic game of croquet if it is warm enough to be outdoors. Another idea that’s perfect for indoors is decorating hats or having someone read fortunes. Parting gifts for guests could be a selection of teas that are festively wrapped.

Care and keeping
Our final bit of advice for hosting a tea party is to be sure to take care of your tea kettle so you’re ready for the next tea party. You’ll find some tips here.

With all that said, there’s just one last thing to consider: Will you take one lump or two?

 

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