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Feb 23, 2012 08:21 AM

Proper Tea Party for Fifteen, Would Love Suggestions

Hi Y'all!! My darling daughter turns 26 this year and would like me to throw a "proper" tea for her special day. I've got a few suggestions already and am on track, but would love any different or unusual ideas you may have that still stay within the realm of "proper" tea. Thanks!

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  1. Hiho Mama... For one thing, don't forget the proper tea was poured into a proper bone china teacup from a lovely bone china teapot or a silver teapot (using china or silver creamer and sugar pot as well).. Mismatched was fine and sometimes desired. Linen napkins and silver utensils complete the service. Bouquet of flowers for the serving table. Candles not lit til after 4:00PM.

    My mother and her friends usually had all the typical sweet and savory tea sandwiches and pastries but always included petit fours. They're so lovely and decorative. The only things that were bought instead of home made... There was a local bakery that made beautiful baked ones to order plus the very thin pinwheel sandwich bread of various colors. Happy 26th to your daughter.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Gio

      Gio, this is great advice. We are planning it for late afternoon, and luckily enough I do have a tea service that I scored at a flea market, so no worries there. It's a garden party, even that late, but we can expect good weather. I LOVE the petit fours idea. I actually make them, and they never ever came to mind, but several pastel petits topped with edible flowers is a gorgeous addition, so thank you, and I'll pass your salutations on to daughter!!

      1. re: mamachef

        Every Easter I make petit fours with cardamom and rose flavored cake enrobed with white chocolate and garnished with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and Aleppo pepper. Quite good with a strong cup of Assam.

        1. re: JungMann

          Hey, I was thinking of Assam. Even people who don't enjoy tea can enjoy that.
          I HAVE to have your recipe if you don't mind sharing, please?

          1. re: mamachef

            Basically I take a regular sponge cake recipe and add about a tsp. each of lemon rind and rosewater as well as 1/2 tsp. of cardamom. The squares of finished cake get dipped in white chocolate dyed pink and dry on a rack. While they are still sticky, I add a pinch of sesame seed and a pinch of Aleppo pepper atop each petit four, although candied rose petals would also be good and highlight the rose flavor.

            1. re: JungMann

              Done and done. Beautiful. I'll be playing with this one. Edible flowers have been on my mind a LOT lately. Thank you!!

    2. We did it for mine when she was two (tea for two), but I'd LOVE it if she still wanted a tea party at twenty-six! You need scones and crumpets (recipes abound) with cream and strawberry jam and lemon curd ( not hard to make, and you can refrigerate it for you can make it ahead of time). There are lots of crumpet recipes online, you grill them on top of the stove with a non-stick grill pan...they are very english-muffin-y (my limey husband says "No, they are NOT" but they are, kind of...) If you can't find crumpet rings, small cans with both top & bottom cut off (think tuna or pineapple) work just fine, just spray them with lots (lots & lots) of non-stick spray. I just did a quick google search & someone recommended Mason jar rings, which sounds like it would work. Clotted cream is not hard to make, but I find that mascarpone makes an admirable substitute if I"m feeling lazy or don't have time. Also, of course, finger sandwiches (cucumber, watercress, curried chicken salad, egg salad, shaved ham) with the crusts cut off all fancy. Sticky toffee pudding (google the Schlafly Tap Room recipe, it is foolproof) or a trifle. And remember, you're setting out a 'cream tea' which is not a 'high' tea (which, at least in my in-laws' part of the world means 'with meat' or 'what we call supper when we are putting on the dog'.) I bought a bunch of teapots at Goodwill and Salvation army and used them to hold flowers & rolled-up napkins and utensils and everyone had to wear a hat. We had a lot of fun, and the pictures were priceless. In England, every cream tea requires one of those three-tier serving pieces for the finger sandwiches or for petits fours, the silver ones with the handle on top...(I scored on at Salvation Army). As I recall, we even found some heart-shaped sugar cubes, although as an adult, I would prefer the rough-looking cubes of demerara, if you can find them. Two-year-olds like the heart shaped cubes so much, they tend to sneak the whole bowl BEFORE the guests arrive...can you guess what she was like during the actual party?

      4 Replies
      1. re: tonifi

        Edit ... Never mind, found my answer in your post!

        1. re: blue room

          Oh yes, Hats and dresses are required. Luckily this gang just gave a "Run for the Roses" party, so the hats should be no problem. We do have a tiered stand and a cake stand, so that department is okay.
          Heart-shaped cubes? Awesome! Do you have any idea where you found them?
          That kid must've been on the ceiling after a bowl of cubes......... :)

        2. re: tonifi

          great suggestions on what to have and what not to have, and what a great idea to celebrate a birthday!

          just a note on crumpets: I really was not successful with mason jar rings, as the batter stuck to the part of the ring that fits on top of the jar. I personally would not recommend using these.

          in terms of foods, I really enjoy having a few pieces of fruit with tea (strawberries and the like) - it gives a nice reprieve from all that starch :)

          good luck!

          1. re: pâté chinois

            Chocolate-covered strawberries and a few sugared fruits just hit the list.

        3. mamachef, thre's a cute little book I have -- see it here --

          might be fun to look through. I've never had the "proper" experience myself!

          5 Replies
          1. re: blue room

            I've had it twice; the best was a tearoom in Ghiradelli Square. Of course I remember everything we had, and I'm just trying to replicate, but a little differently. Roxlet and others have reminded me about the cream biscuits, and I can source the double or clotted cream locally. I'm also considering several other bars and bites. I am going to serve savories, which may take it out of the realm of "totally proper" but I'm really excited about it.

            1. re: mamachef

              The little book I mentioned has these listed for sandwiches and 'savouries' -- Cucumber sandwiches ("peel and slice ... into transparencies..."
              Egg salad sandwiches
              Potted shrimp
              Scotch woodcock (an anchovy spread, no birds involved!)
              Welsh rarebit
              Tomato sandwiches
              Devilled ham sandwiches
              Watercress sandwiches
              Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon on toast
              Alice B. Toklas sandwiches (Cooked mushrooms mashed with butter, lemon, salt & pepper, a little cayenne) spread on toast
              Martha Stewart is no doubt good at this sort of thing -- here is a link to her tea sandwiches--

              1. re: blue room

                Thank you!! Between this and some other buddies, I have a GREAT start now!! I'm stuck on cream biscuits with clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam, petit fours, mini lemon pound cakes with lemon glaze, brownies (probably Nick Malgieri's Supernaturals) because there must always be chocolate. The birthday girl has made a special request of dates stuffed with chevre, wrapped in bacon and baked so I need to do that even if it's untraditional. She has also requested alcohol in the form of Mimosas, so I'll do that too. When she made the request, I asked her if she wouldn't rather just call it an hors dourves party, but she wasn't having it - a tea she wants and a tea it shall be, even if it's weird. That's kinda how we roll anyhoo.

                1. re: mamachef

                  We always have champagne at our tea parties...I've seen a lot of tea houses offer it as well. That's something you can't do with kiddie tea parties. :)

              2. re: mamachef

                I've had afternoon tea many times, incl. at Fortnum & Mason in London, and little savouries were always served. At F&M, which was the fanciest, or "most proper," there were tiny sandwiches, a little scone with clotted cream and strawberry preserves, and petit fours. In other tearooms, there have been little sandwiches always (my favourite part), often a savoury scone as well as a plain one w/ cream and curd &/or jam, teeny-tiny quiches, and always some sort of sweet finish - shortbread, perhaps, or a truffle, etc.

                At my own tea parties, I've served gougeres, which were hugely popular, tiny crab cakes, or other miniature savouries. The fancy sandwiches are always nice, but I like to include something hot besides the scones.

                You're going to have so much fun, and everybody will love it.


              tiered servers like these are very traditional for tea service in hotels and make a lovely presentation for small pastries and petits fours.

              1 Reply
              1. re: hotoynoodle

                Thank you! Fortunately, we've got one. It's one less thing I have to run around looking for.

              2. I just threw a tea party for twelve a few weeks ago!

                We started off with some scones (really like this recipe from epicurious):

                Then we had 3 kinds of tea sandwiches: cucumber sandwiches on white bread (cut into rectangles), smoked salmon sandwiches on pumpernickel (cut into rounds using a biscuit cutter), and curry chicken sandwiches on wheat bread (cut into triangles). I really like the contrast between the different types of breads and shapes, they all looked great!

                For desserts, we had 3 different kinds of macarons (been on a macaron kick lately). actually has a great recipe that I use as a base: I made the chocolate macarons w/ chocolate ganache, green tea macarons w/ white chocolate buttercream (substitute matcha powder for the cocoa in the same recipe), and earl grey macarons with honey buttercream (substitute loose-leaf earl grey tea for the cocoa in the same recipe). Just adored how dainty these looked and the girls loved them! I found that I preferred to petit-fours (which I usually find too sweet), even though they're not traditionally part of british tea.

                By the way, sells lemon curd and clotted cream (or double devon cream which I actually prefer) if you can't find it in stores in your area.

                Here are some pics, hopefully it'll give you some good ideas!

                3 Replies
                1. re: arlenemae

                  Thanks, arlenmae! I'm loving the idea of the differently-shaped tea sandwiches. What a good idea for contrast!! I'm also playing with the idea of a checkerboard loaf, but that's so much trouble. And I recently saw a pretty cool deconstructed "Loaf sandwich" made of finger sandwiches. Hmmm....

                  1. re: arlenemae

                    Oh, my, arlenemae, I wish I could attend one of your tea parties. The one you described above sounds heavenly, especially as I am mad for macarons as well.