The Little Guide to British Tea Party Etiquette

Afternoon tea is excellent way to slow down in our ever busy lives, relax and spend time to meet with old friends and make new ones as you experience a truly traditional teatime event. These intimate and elegant events can be given in honor of visiting friends, new neighbors or for family reunions. Occasions for celebration include birthday parties, housewarming parties, graduation parties, retirement parties, summer garden parties, holiday parties, customer or employee appreciation parties, bridal showers and baby showers, can all take the form of a slim tea party. They are cost effective, yet it can be elegant and formal.

Invitations For Hosting A Tea Party

The type of elegant invitation should follow the how formal and elaborate your tea party is reflect the theme of the party. There are numerous invitation cards which can be purchased on-line.

A simple invitation printed on cream or pale colored paper, using these words as an example is an ideal way to mail the invitations out.

An Invitation to Afternoon Tea

Mrs Mary Holmes requests

The pleasure of your company

For afternoon tea,

Saturday June 6th

At 3pm

R.S.V.P

For traditional afternoon teas, invitations can be handwritten on tea note cards, which comprises of pictures of charming tea sets, English roses and similar motifs. Engraved, letter press type of invites can be done by a stationer. Of course these days, an email invite would suffice, depending on the formality of the afternoon tea party.

Making the invitation fun & special… suggests that people wear fancy hats, dresses and maybe even bring their own special cup & saucer (especially if you don’t have enough of your own).

How To Set The Tea Table

Setting the table for the tea party is one of the most fun parts of hosting a tea. This is where the table cloth comes out and the best china and tea pots can be used. Tea parties are best served from the main dining table. For lower numbers of guests, set the table for the number of people you have attending in a seated fashion. For larger groups, still use the dining table but serve the tea buffet style. White and/or lace cloths can look especially pretty & elegant, but feel free to select a cloth color which reflects the theme of your party or the season. Red or Green for Christmas, bridal colors for a shower, oranges for a fall party.

When serving a seated party

Set each space setting with a small tea plate or side plate in the center of each setting towards the edge of the table, the cup and saucer (with teaspoon) to the right. Make sure both the cup handle and the teaspoon is positioned to the right. Most people are right handed and will pick up the tea cup using the right hand. The napkin is folded in to a long rectangle is placed below the cup and saucer, next to the plate. Place a desert fork in the center of the napkin. Linen napkins in a matching or complementary color are the most formal choice, but white or colored paper napkins also work fine.

Elegant Decorating Your Tea Party

The table can be decorated with fresh cut flowers. Be creative and use a teacup or even a tea pot to hold your flowers. This is a great way to use an old teapot which has lost its lid. You can use fabric runners across a white table cloth to add a splash of color, silver or colored confetti, and pretty matching napkins. Use silver serving trays, antique china platters or iron cake stands to serve the food from. For seating table preparations, you can even had a named place tag. All these little details make the day very special and make the table look stunning.

How To Serve A Good Cup of Tea

Traditionally, in Britain, the tea beverage is an English Breakfast Tea blend, served hot with milk. This requires an electric kettle (or stove top kettle), filtered water and a teapot. You can use either tea bags or loose-leaf tea. Loose leaf is the better quality if you want to impress your guests. Organic high quality loose-leaf tea is recommended, but a good quality every day British blend tea bag is also good when make correctly. Good quality everyday tea bag brands include Tetley, PG Tips, Twinning’s and Stash.

Steps for making tea…

Empty the kettle of old pre-boiled water. For the best flavor, fresh water is preferred as it loses its oxygen content after repeated boils. The oxygen in the water gives a fresh flavor to the tea. Water re-boiled can make the tea taste flat.

Fill the kettle with fresh spring or filtered water.

Bring to the boil.

Once the kettle come to a boil, pour a little of the water in to a teapot and rinse to make the pot hot.

In the teapot, place one bag or teaspoon of tea per person plus on for the pot. So for a group of 4 in a pop for 4 add 5 bags/teaspoons of tea.

Make sure the kettle comes to a rolling boil and pour the water on to the tea/teabag. Add the lid and a tea cosie and leave to brew for up to 5 minutes, depending on how strong you like the brew. You can test for the color of the tea in an empty white cup. You are looking for a rich brown color. For guests who prefer a lighter brew, it is customary to serve them first as the first pour will be the weakest, after 2-3 minutes. For those wanting a stronger brew, the tea can stand for a further 2-3 minutes.