Did you think tea party recipes were a thing of the past?
Actually, tea parties (and their recipes) are alive and well, and they are as formal as tea and crumpets in the parlor or as laid-back as old friends on the front porch.
Perhaps, then, chivalry is not dead either. Scones, crumpets, tea sandwiches, tea cakes, a little history, the three courses of afternoon tea, and tea brewing lie ahead. I'll hold the door open for you.
Although the practice of tea-drinking has been around for many centuries, it has been mostly for medicinal purposes.
Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford is credited with the creation of Afternoon Tea, the social event, in the 1840's. It began simply enough, as a 4:00 o'clock snack for her, to tide her over until the customary late supper. Friends joined her, and over the next few decades the practice became steeped in tradition, etiquette, accoutrements, and, no doubt, tea party recipes. As it became the "national habit," tea houses and tea rooms sprang up over Britain like Starbucks in Seattle. Sadly, few are left, but tea parties are gaining momentum once again.
Traditionally, Full Afternoon Tea is served in three courses:
Tea Cakes, which may include most any pastry.
Light Afternoon Tea calls only for scones and tea cakes to be served.
Another version of Afternoon Tea is called Cream Tea. Serve only scones with clotted cream and jam.
Divide your tea party fare as we have. Serve something savory, then something sweet (for full tea) and you can't go wrong.
Serve a beverage, like punch or champagne, in addition to tea if the gathering is very large.
Fruit and cheese are welcome additions to the basic tea party menu. And consider some appetizers as tea party recipes, also appropriate. Cream Cheese Balls and/or Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes, perhaps.
The one essential thing to serve at your tea party is tea: