I was instantly smitten and can still remember how amazing everything tasted. Since then I have gone to tea in nearly every place I have visited around the world. I also became a collector of tea paraphernalia. Since I have a fondness for serving pieces, entertaining and Victorian silver this has become a bit of an obsession.
But it's great for hosting fun girly tea parties!
I used to have tea parties but I haven't had one in a long while. But my good friend Sonja has created a new networking initiative called The Ladies Tea and she inspired me to get back at it!
Seven ladies were invited to afternoon tea last Sunday and, in spite of some rainy weather, I think we had a lovely time.
For me it starts with choosing the guest list and an appropriately girly color scheme - easy enough given the overwhelming pink-ness of some of my tea stuff. I made my invitations and mailed them out a few weeks in advance, hoping everyone could make it. When I got all my RSVPs back (everyone, yeah!), I planned my menu.
The day before the party I was cleaning and baking and planning place settings. The menu was built off of a traditional tea menu but influenced by some of my favorite tea experiences at places like the Ritz and the Grand Floridian.
Earl Grey tea
Tomato Chive tartlets
Tarragon Chicken Salad with Spinach
Curry Egg Salad
served with Irish butter, Lemon Curd, Strawberry Preserves, Devonshire Creme
Chocolate Cupcakes with Rosewater Icing
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
The egg salad and much of the baking used some of the eggs from my chickens, of course! We want everything to be decadent and delicious don't we???
Yum! Lavender sable dough in progress. A sable is a French shortbread cookie and a perennial favorite. If you haven't baked or cooked with lavender you are missing out. This cookie is so easy and gets better tasting the next day.
I am a huge stickler for using the best ingredients when I'm cooking. These tomatoes ended up tasting amazing. All we had to do was bake the tart shell and mince up a red and yellow tomato and then add the chives.
Here's my kitchen in the throes of preparations. It's not huge but it's very functional and has much more storage space than it looks. When we moved into our 110-year old house we did a good amount of cosmetic work to this room but it was worth it. We luv our kitchen.
And here's where the magic happens!
The day of the party we were up finishing baking and setting up the house and getting ready. The tea party was to be a 2 p.m. The hubby was amazingly helpful and made all of the sandwiches and the tarts. Plus he had helped by taking care of the dogs and cleaning up around the house too. Without him, I so could not have put this party on and have it go as well as it did. So big kudos to him!
As I mentioned, I love serving stuff, especially all the different pieces from the Victorian era where they had a serving piece for everything. I'm not exaggerating. I have baked potato forks and lettuce serving forks; forks for berries and lemons and spoons for jellys and pates. I'm just looking for reasons to use all this stuff.
So out come all the lovely silver tea strainers (loose tea only in my house!), the chargers and plates and the crystal stemware. And, all of my fun serving pieces for pastries and cupcakes.
We started with Kir Royales and then sat down to the first course.
I have a large square black dining table that seats eight even without the added leaves. The place settings were made up of pink placemats and hot pink glass chargers. The plates were all mixed up with some vintage and some new. On top were little glass domes which I had the chocolate-dipped strawberries. Each person got a unique vintage tea cup.
First course - delectable finger sandwiches. No crusts allowed. I do have to say, those tartlets were delish.
The tea lasted about 3 hours and was a lot of fun. The ladies were from different ages and walks of life, but everyone seemed to have a good time and the conversation was lively and hilarious. It was so good to see so many of my friends together in one place.
At the end of the party, each lady got a favor. I made up boxes filled with goodies as a takeaway. I made these boxes and filled them with 2 madelines to remember the tea.
And since this was a varied group, I made fun name tags for each person to wear.
The favor boxes were take-out boxes in the same pink and black color scheme.
Each box held the set of madelines, a Chinese fan in pink, a Eiffel tower wine stopper and a heart soap from Gianna Rose.
Afterwards, it was time to clean up and put all the pretty tea cups and dishes away.
But, I'm already excited about the next tea party I can have and the opportunity to spend some time with my wonderful friends.
I want to also give a quick "hello" to my dear Miss Bridget who, I hope, is reading this. I missed you at this tea party. It would have been great to have you at this. I hope you can come visit soon and we'll plan a special party in your honor!