Summertime tea parties are just what we need right now to lift our spirits. It seems hard to believe as some parts of these past 6 months have felt like they would never end but here we are basking in the summer sun!
Summertime tea parties are a great way to create fantastic memories, savor delicious food, and re-connect with friends and family. Although things aren’t quite back to normal yet and we may not be able to gather in large numbers just yet, we can, in most areas, have small intimate gatherings and sometimes those are the best.
This month on our blog, we are talking tea parties because is there really anything better? It’s time to start planning those summertime tea parties!
The Origins of Afternoon Tea
Let’s first take a look at the origins of afternoon tea. It was made popular by Afternoon tea was introduced in England by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, in the year 1840. It was meant as a light meal between lunch and dinner, not to be confused with high tea which is an entirely different affair. Although it sounds fancy, afternoon tea and high tea are not interchangeable terms. Afternoon tea refers to the small meal in the afternoon, while high tea was traditionally an evening meal where heavy bread and meats were served. You can read all about the different types of afternoon tea here.
Planning Your Menu
The food you serve can be as elaborate or as simple as you choose. Remember, hosting a tea party should be a time to rejoice and enjoy time with your guests. While attention to detail is important, proper planning will afford you a stress-free social gathering.
The Savories Course
The items on a tiered tray are savored from bottom to top starting with dainty sandwiches. Add interest to your summertime tea party menu with little changes as simple as using different types of bread for each of your different sandwiches. Some favorite sandwiches to include on your menu are coronation chicken, cucumber and cream cheese, and egg salad. Creativity can allow you to venture outside the standards. Don’t limit yourself to the traditional filling between two pieces of bread but rather change things up. Why not opt for an open-faced egg sandwich as I had at The Old Curiosity Shop or even Deviled eggs like the Fairmont in Calgary. I always say that you should not endeavor to re-invent the wheel but subtle changes to standard fare can add interest and make your menu memorable.
Scones, Cream And Jam
On the middle tier, we find delicious scones. This is where I like to save some time when I am organizing afternoon tea. Remember, the whole idea is to have fun and while scones are easy to make, if you are pressed for time, you can use a scone mix readily available at your local grocer. Homemade jam and clotted cream complete this course.
Clotted cream isn’t always easy to get here in Canada. There are several stores that sell double cream which is nice but doesn’t quite compare to the real deal. It will certainly do in a pinch. The trouble here is that even when we want to make clotted cream from scratch, it is difficult to get cream that isn’t Ultra High Pasteurized. A friend shared this easy clotted cream recipe made with regular pasteurized heavy that she found at Loblaws.
Instant Pot Clotted Cream
- Instant Pot
- 2 pints Regular Pasturized Heavy Cream It is important NOT to use the UHT pasteurized product, because the UHT method interferes with the clotting ability of the cream.
- Pour the heavy cream into the Instapot insert. Close the lid and turn the pressure knob to seal.
- Press the "Yogourt" button, and hit, "Adjust" until you reach the "Boil" function.
- When the boil function is finished, the Instapot will beep. Change the Instapot function to, "Keep Warm".
- Allow the cream to slowly cook and thicken under, "Keep Warm" for 8-10 hours.
- At the end of the warming period, remove the Instapot insert and place on a cooling rack. (There is no need to vent the Instapot; as you did not cook under pressure. Just open the top.) The cream will now be separated into 2 layers; a top liquid buttery layer, and the thin whey below. Do NOT stir or disturb the pot at this point, or the layers will mix. Let the cream cool completely to room temperature. (if you put the cream in the fridge too soon, you will get droplets of condensation in your cream and that will dilute it).
- Once the cream has cooled to room temperature, cover the pot with plastic wrap and refrigerate 12 hours or overnight.
- After chilling, remove the plastic wrap and with a slotted spoon, gently push aside a small area of thickened cream from the side of the pot. Carefully pour off the underlying layer of whey from this area. Don't throw it away! You can save this milky product to make your scones!!!
- Scoop out all of the remaining thickened cream into a jar. The very top layer of the clotted cream may have crusty, yellow bits. Just stir that into the rest of the cream.
The Sweet’s Course
Building our way from savory to sweet, we finish out with sweet offerings. Remember, afternoon tea can be deceptively filling between the sandwiches, scones, and tea so once guests get to the 3rd course, they often have just a little room for something sweet. Items should allow guests to sample each without feeling overwhelmed.
When possible, always choose quality loose leaf teas or opt for teas in organic sachets like those sold by Tea with Tracie. Consider elevating the guest experience by pairing each course with a different tea. Black teas are well suited to all courses and can simplify things if you decide to stick to one tea throughout. Try serving an Oolong or Darjeeling with your scones course and perhaps a mild herbal tea like honey and vanilla with your sweet’s course.
Setting Your Table
Your tea party doesn’t have to be elaborate or even very fancy. Your china doesn’t have to match. In fact, using mismatched china inline with your theme can really add a fun touch to your event. We looked at some fun guidelines for building a mix and match tablescape in our blog from February
Clean crisply pressed linens, place cards, fresh flowers are all small touches that can make your summertime tea party all the more pleasant for your guests and a lot of fun for you to organize.
Looking for inspiration for your next tea party? Pick up a copy of Teatime Celebrations by Tea Time Magazine or purchase online at www.teatimemagazine.com It is packed with gorgeous photographs, tablescape inspiration, delectable recipes, and tea pairing suggestions.
Hosting a summertime tea party? That means you’ll need some nice teacups to add to your table. Here is your opportunity to win a teacup. Our contest runs until June 29th, 2020 at midnight EST. There is no purchase necessary and our contest is open to everyone. Please see our complete contest rules here.
This month, we are giving away this lovely Aynsley teacup! Enter here.