Time out for a cuppa

Over the years the tradition of tea has become an elegant affair. Tea parties can be elegant, relaxing, fun, full of fantasy, whimsical, a ministry tool, or a celebration.

Over the years the tradition of tea has become an elegant affair. Tea parties can be elegant, relaxing, fun, full of fantasy, whimsical, a ministry tool, or a celebration.

Planning your tea party

The first thing to do is to set a date and send out invitations.

Be innovative with your invitations. Try sending each guest a small teacup with an invitation attached or painted on the cup.

Once you have sent out your invitations, you can look at buying your tea and accessories.

Buy or borrow the items you will need for your party. You will need one or more china teapots. Cups and saucers may be matching but create interest with a variety of patterns. For sugar, always use cubes in a sugar bowl with sugar tongs for serving. Serve milk, not cream. Have teaspoons, lemon slices in a dish with a small fork, serving utensils for cake, forks, and knives for jam.

Plan your menu to include both savoury and sweet food.

You do not need to spend hours in the kitchen to host a memorable tea party. Prepare small sandwiches with simple flavours such as cream cheese and prosciutto, mozzarella and tomato, tuna salad, or ham and apple.

Spread a thin coat of mayonnaise, butter or cream cheese on the bread to keep it from getting soggy. Add your favourite filling and cut off the edges with a serrated knife. Then cut with cookie cutter, or cut into simple square shapes. Add a few pastries from your local bakery such as scones, muffins and Danish pastries in assorted flavours.

Serving tea

There is a correct order in which tea party foods should be eaten. Tea is served first, since this is the "star" of the show.

Bring the teapot to the tea kettle. Then bring the teapot, with the steeping tea, to the table. The first cup is usually poured by the host or the guest of honour. After that, each guest may pour a cup.

Lemon slices, sugar, and milk should be offered with tea.

Tidbits to know:

l If using sugar, be careful not to dip the sugar tong or sugar spoon into the tea.

l Stir tea gently with a teaspoon, being careful not to click it against the sides of the cup. Then place the teaspoon on your saucer behind the cup.

l When drinking, hold the cup and saucer near the chest, then take the teacup off the saucer and bring it up to your mouth to drink.

l If the tea is hot, leave the teacup on the table to cool. Do not blow, sip, or slurp!

l If you are not seated at a table, hold the saucer in your lap with your left hand and raise the teacup with your right hand. Return the cup to the saucer between sips.

l Do NOT stick your pinky out when drinking tea. Just hold the teacup normally.

l If tea bags are used, then there should be a small dish at each place setting to place the used tea bags. - Courtesy of Five Roses

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