How to Host a Tea Party at Home
Do you have a special birthday, engagement or hen party coming up? Or do your little ones just love to host picnic parties for their teddy bears? Then, a tea party could be just the thing to mark the occasion, however big or small it is. To help you bring yours to life at home, we’ve tapped the knowledge of two (what we like to call) afternoon tea experts.
The first is Samantha Check, founder of Tea Party – a charming nook in North London which brings elegant tea-fuelled parties to life. “I’ve always loved afternoon tea for as long as I can remember. Dainty finger sandwiches, divine little cupcakes and soft scones with strawberry jam and lashings of clotted cream,” says Samantha.
The second is award-winning chef and cake-baking legend Robin Read. Below, he and Samantha share their top tips for creating a charming afternoon tea (as well as a best-kept-secret scones recipe!).
First things first: Dress your Table
"Afternoon tea is an occasion in itself, and a beautifully dressed table is the best way to add to the atmosphere," says Robin, who recommends covering the table with your favourite linen, including a tablecloth and napkins.
"If you have a favourite tea service or a collection of lovely vintage tea cups, milk jugs and sugar bowls, get them out to make your afternoon tea extra special," he adds.
We'd also recommend a cake stand, such as a Floral Teapot Cake Stand, to add an eye-catching centrepiece that will bring a touch of joy to the table. Taking the party to the garden? “Hang pretty bunting and garlands from the walls or between tree branches outside,” Samantha says.
It wouldn’t be a tea party without food….
“The best bit! Cut those crusts from your bread for traditional afternooon tea style, and make sure you bring cucumber and cream cheese fillings on board – it’s a classic and always goes down a treat,” Samantha says. “If you’re hosting for kids, choose fillings such as chocolate spread and jam,” she adds.
As for cake? “Throw in a classic Victoria Sponge for good measure. Any cake can be a delight – lemon drizzle or chocolate fudge, for instance – it’s a good excuse to get out all those recipes you’ve been meaning to bake.”
It doesn’t have to be champagne
A glass of fizz is a classic beverage for afternoon tea, but Robin recommends trying other sparkling wines that can be every bit as delicious. "One of our favourites is our biodynamic and vegan Crémant de Loire. It is fresh and citrusy, with green apple notes and a velvety, creamy texture which makes it the perfect match for both the savoury and sweet elements of the tea,” he says. If you’re planning on having your cream tea outdoors in the sunshine, then pack these acrylic champagne flutes for a smart but sensible way to raise a glass or two.
And for the kids? “Children will love serving themselves lemonade or juice from a teapot into elegant teacups!” Samantha says.
Get dressed up for the occasion
“Whether your tea party is set up in the garden or on the kitchen table, it’s not complete without hats! Raid the dressing-up box, find flamboyant headgear and pick flowers from the garden to add a touch of elegance. Reach for granny’s pearls too – or Christmas baubles if that’s not an option!” Samantha says. “Don’t forget the boys; they’ll look dashing in trilbies,” she adds.
And the bit you’ve all been waiting for: Homemade Scones Recipe
An afternoon tea simply wouldn't be without scones. We won't get into the debates on how to pronounce it or whether you spread the jam or cream on first, but we will happily share Robin’s recipe for homemade scones for those who really want to take their tea party up a few notches.
"In our restaurants we like to serve our scones with two types of jam but fruit curds are also an interesting alternative. Clotted cream is always a must!" says Robin.
What you’ll need:
- 500g flour
- 12g baking powder
- 125g butter
- 125g icing sugar
- Pinch salt
- 280g buttermilk
- Add the flour, butter, sugar, and baking powder into a bowl
- Rub the butter into the dry ingredients
- Add the buttermilk
- Mix together, but don’t mix too much
- Put the dough between two sheets of baking paper and flatten. Then leave to rest for 20 minutes
- Roll the dough to the required height - around 2cm is our recommendation
- Cut the scones with a pastry cutter, and place them onto your baking tray
- Brush with egg wash and bake for around 12 minutes until golden on the top.
All of this sound like your cup of tea? Browse our Truly Scrumptious range for vintage-inspired floral tableware and decorations, or look to the Let’s Par-Tea collection for a whimsical take on the theme.
Now all that’s left to do it put the kettle on!