You don’t have to have a collection of lace doilies or a proper parlor to host a great English Tea Party. In fact, it can be more fun to surprise your guests by taking fine tea traditions and giving them a creative twist all your own.
As the weather warms up, take your tea party out of the house to your backyard, garden, or veranda. Let nature provide the decorations and lighting while you set up a gorgeous table and comfy seating. If the weather is still a bit chilly, keep a basket of blankets or pashminas at hand to cover up shivering shoulders or legs.
Never fear if you didn’t inherit your grandmother’s china to use at your tea party. Make your table a visual smorgasbord by using a hodgepodge of patterns and designs, or head to your local thrift store to snaffle a collection of mix and match teacups.
Make your teapot the star of the show. Consider branching out beyond a traditional English Royal Doulton teapot to something a bit more unique such as Danish Royal Copenhagen, Russian Gzhel, or something crafted by a local artisan.
While simple black tea is always welcome at a tea party, you can jazz things up a bit by offering a variety of flavors to your guests. Head on over to the Plum Deluxe online tea shop and pick three different types of tea. Perhaps a dessert tea such as spicy chai, which is delicious laced with cream; a fruit tea such as orange spice, which needs nothing more than a drizzle of honey to draw out the flavors; and good strong black tea, such as Plum Deluxe’s best selling reading nook blend.
A first-class tea party will provide a dazzling array of small cakes iced with chocolate and fondant or layered with glistening jam. These can be purchased ahead of time at your favorite patisserie.
While the cakes are pretty and delicious, the star attraction of a proper tea would have to be the scone. Although you can purchase these light and flaky biscuits, they are infinitely better homemade, especially when they’re still warm from the oven.
Thankfully, they’re easy to make. Start with a basic scone dough and then add whatever you like: currants or candied ginger, toasted walnuts, or a teaspoon of cinnamon. Top them with Devonshire Cream or make a mock version by whipping together a cup of sour cream with a cup of heavy whipping cream, dash of vanilla, and a dusting of powdered sugar. Or go straight to a light as air whipped cream flavored with maple or pureed blackberries.
You can serve your scones with cream and jam, or top them with luscious balsamic roasted strawberries or plump brandied cherries.
Once your table is set and your friends are seated, pour yourself a steaming cup of tea, choose a warm scone, then sit back and enjoy the afternoon.
Vanilla Wheat Scones
- 1 cup whole grain flour
- 1 cup white flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter, chilled and cut in pieces
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1 large egg
Preheat oven to 450 F.
In medium bowl, stir together dry ingredients.
Add butter and blend with pastry blender or fingers until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
In a cup, whisk together milk and egg, pour over dry mixture and toss gently with a fork until evenly moistened.
Dump dough onto a floured surface and knead gently, just until it holds together. Form into a circle about 1-inch thick. Cut into eight wedges and place on a baking sheet covered with baking paper. (At this point you can bake as-is or brush tops with beaten egg and sprinkle with raw sugar.)
Bake for 12-13 minutes until scones have risen and tops are golden brown.
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon maple extract
- 1-2 tablespoons real maple syrup
In a large bowl, beat cream until soft peaks form. Add extract and maple syrup and whisk until well incorporated.
Chill until ready to serve.
Photo Credits: author, milkyway4567, Carrie Keplinger, Parkerman & Christie, author, and author.