A tea party is a fun opportunity to gather with friends and enjoy each other’s company over refreshing sips and tasty bites. In the Victorian era, most social activities centered around tea and formal tea-times were established throughout the day, with cream tea, afternoon tea, elevensies, royale tea, and high tea.
Today, afternoon tea can be as formal or casual as you'd like. If you’re interested in exploring the world of “tea etiquette”, this video covers some tips for a traditional English afternoon tea:
A spring or summer tea party enjoyed in the garden offers you and your guests an afternoon in the warm sunshine, with the scents of nature mingling with the aroma of freshly brewed tea. In the colder months, bring your tea party indoors for a cozy affair to warm the heart and soul when the air turns chilly.
Above all, the best part about hosting a Victorian tea party is the fun of making it your own! Play around with details like the table linens, teacups, place-cards, and serving items. And be bold in experimenting with new recipes for your beverages and bites. Let your imagination be your guide!
Here are a few tips and ideas to get you started:
Tea suggestions: Earl Grey, Ceylon, and Darjeeling are among the most popular tea choices, but you can also mix it up and brew your own personal favorite, or even offer a selection for your guests to choose from. No matter which tea you serve, be sure to use loose-leaf tea and a strainer for the best flavor.
Serve tea with lemon wedges, sugar cubes, and milk or cream.
In addition to serving tea, this Rose Lemonade from Victoria magazine would be a lovely addition to infuse a floral touch for your spring or summer tea party!
For a touch of whimsy, use different teacups at each place-setting, mixing up the colors and styles for each guest. Check your local thrift shop for teacups; most have a wide selection of adorable options to choose from!
A three-tiered tea stand adds an extra special touch for the table, and is an elegant (and space-saving) way to present your tea sandwiches and other goodies.
Serve shortbread cookies with jam or jelly. I’ve followed this shortbread recipe for years and it’s always a crowd-pleaser!
In addition to sweets, offer your guests something savory like these Herbed Cheese Triple-Stack Sandwiches from Tea Time magazine!
If hosting your tea party outdoors, invite each guest to bring their favorite sunhat and set up an umbrella to lend shade as you leisurely enjoy your tea.
Adorn the table with flowers, if in season.
Create a place-card for each guest, printed with fun quotes from your favorite Victorian authors, or musings on the virtues of a proper afternoon tea.
Add a dainty touch to the table décor with lace table linens and cloth napkins.
Make it a picnic! Pack your tea party to-go, and set up at a nearby park; you may even inspire others to host their own tea party!
And if you're looking to treat yourself to a new tea set, here are some lovely options from Victorian Trading Company: