Help! Friends Are Coming for Tea

Teresa,

I don’t know why I did this, but caught up in the whole tea thing, I invited some friends over for a fancy afternoon tea – and I have never done this before! Help!

-Georgina

Dear Georgina,

You can do it. Remember to take your time and allow several hours to prepare. If you dote over the four main elements below, it will be a big success!

1. The China – You’ll want to have a large teapot to serve quite a few people. It’s nice to have fine cups and saucers that guests will feel are pretty to use – in fact, don’t feel they all have to be from the same set. Having a variety of types of china can lead to interesting conversation about what patterns people like and choose.

2. Dainty and Fancy Sandwiches

This is a tricky aspect of your tea – they need to be served absolutely fresh so they will be the last thing that you assemble before your guests arrive. In fact, if one of your guests is your best friend, ask her to come a little early to give you a hand – and then pretend that she didn’t when the guests arrive! It’s important that the crusts are all cut off before the sandwiches are made and that, once, assembled, they are cut into small triangles or other interesting shapes. I even have a friend who uses a heart-shaped cookie cutter. Provide at least three types of sandwiches for your guests for example, cucumber, salmon, egg.

3. Scones with Cream and Jam

The scones also need to be fresh, but can be made several hours before. For me, the critical part of the scones is having the right cream – it needs to be “clotted cream” rather than whipped cream as the latter melts and makes your scone “limp”! Clotted cream has lovely texture which combines perfectly with your strawberry jam. This is not an advert for Bonne-Maman jam, but I do have to say it is my favourite for a fancy tea. For more, see my article about scones.

4. Small Cakes

Cakes are presented after the sandwiches and scones, which means that most of your guests will already be full! This means that your cakes need to be served in very small portions. Again, variety is the name of the game and so it is nice to have different options, for example: I always like to have something chocolate and something lemony.

-Watch for my future ideas on how to make a lovely tea display and how to serve your tea like a true “Tea Mother”.

Good luck Georgina! I’m sure it will be a huge success!

-Teresa


Teresa Barker

Ever since she was a little girl, Teresa has loved looking at fine china and some of her prominent childhood memories are about the beautiful patterns on the china tableware in the homes she would visit! She's been living in Great Britain for 13 years, along with her husband and three children.