Start Shining that Silver
Preparation is of the utmost importance if you want to give your own tea party that special touch, as it is not just as it is not just about inviting your friends and relations round for a nice time.
In 1876, Victorian England tea parties were all the rage, and to be invited to one was certainly something to talk about. Back then it was a social affair, so the hosts made a big deal out of how elegant and extravagant it was as far as the tea party’s appearance looked. It can be extravagant, but only if you want it to. If you prefer to go the whole hog, then you will want to make it as detailed and special as you can.
It was the great Queen Elizabeth I who introduced a charter to have tea imported to England via the East India Company in 1637 with much success. This resulted in merchants like Thomas Garway selling two types of tea at his coffee house in London. Tea became a staple part of the English diet of the time and the coffee houses went from a small amount to becoming nearly 400 or more in the nation's capital by the 18th century. Its popularity was more than the gin of the time.
The royalty tended to drink tea first, then passed it down to the rest of society and at some point the working classes had the chance to sample it in much smaller quantities than the other members of society.
Traditionally the English supper was made available to the ladies at 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. where tea would be served and accompanied with sandwiches and soups in the afternoon. The upper-classes would drink what is known as low tea that was made purely for gatherings, aesthetic presentation and polite conversation.
How to Host it: Essential Preparation
If you are really into the Victorian setting then you might want to dress in that period's costumes of flowing dresses, lace and bodices. Think of the poets of the time, the literary geniuses and the luminaries and the ideas you have for dress will be quite astonishing. Think about inviting your guests ten to twelve days in advance so that they can properly decide whether or not they can turn up. You might be surprised at them not coming if you send out your invitations any later. Also think about what you will serve other than your tea. Perhaps a menu should be arranged along with your shopping list one week prior to the party date.
- Make sure your silver is polished and ready.
- Tablecloths and napkins need to be washed and ready, and for a true Victorian style use lace to show the effort you have gone to.
- On the day of the party prepare the sandwiches and any other finger foods that are on the menu, set the table and wait.
How to Set Up
- Have two separate tables prepared, one for tea and food, the other for your guests seating.
- The tea and food will be on the first table with milk jug, sugar bowl and a plate of lemon sliced.
- On silver platters arrange your foods in the centre of the table with napkins, plates and cutlery.
- Allow your guests to sample your culinary delights (it is a buffet and self service after all.)
- Feel free to enjoy it and soak up the atmosphere of a real tea party experience.