The Fun of Serving High Tea

Posted by Ann on 4/28/2014

The English tradition of the "Afternoon Tea" was started by Anna the Duchess of Bedford, who was Queen Victoria’s Lady in Waiting. Victorian tea parties were extremely well planned and elegantly decorated. The precise presentation of the food and teas were of great importance. Tea Parties became a distinguished practice of the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

The Origin of Afternoon Tea

While many people ate one large meal at some time around 3:00 to 5:00 PM, others felt the lapse between the first meal of the day and the evening meal was rather lengthy. In order to quell the hunger pains, the Duchess Anna began requesting to be served tea and scones to suppress her appetite. She began to invite friends and relatives to join her and after a while, everyone in England followed was supping on tea in the latter part of the day. Afternoon Tea, ever since that time is now customary in the UK.

Thinking of Hosting a Tea Party?

Having a Victorian Tea Party takes hours of planning and preparing. The most important decision you will make is where you are going to have it. To create the perfect ambiance for your Tea Party you will need to have the correct materials. All accoutrements, from the china to the decorative pieces and the flowers in the room would best coincide with the Victorian era.

Hostess Responsibilities

The Hostess of the Tea Party has many responsibilities. Upon the arrival of each guest, she is to greet them, taking their outer garments, and hanging them up, after which she should introduce the new arrival to the other guests. At this time she would offer the guest tea, along with cakes or candies to enjoy as they are offered a place to sit. The Hostess circulates throughout the room to see that everyone has met and is enjoying themselves. The Hostess will then enjoy a bit of conversation with her guests before formally calling everyone to the table.

Pouring the Tea

Once the teapot is placed on the table, the spout should always face the Hostess. The Hostess is solely responsible for serving tea to the guests. The milk or cream always goes in the cup first, then sugar cubes followed by the tea. A proper Hostess continues to make sure that all guests are comfortable and that everyone is a part of the conversation and is having a delightful experience.

Guests’ Responsibilities

The responsibility of a guest is to be apprised of tea etiquette: such as after stirring the tea, the teaspoon should be placed it lightly on the saucer. Never place the teaspoon on the tablecloth or serving tray, as this is improper tea etiquette. When you are seated at the table, place your completely unfolded napkin across your lap flat. It is not to be placed upon the table, thrown on a plate or dropped to the floor. It is proper to eat with your fingers. When eating a scone, break it into bite sized pieces, always eating one piece at a time. Never use a knife to cut your scone, and it’s improper to use a fork to eat it. When you are eating tea sandwiches again you eat with your fingers, taking small, dainty bites. A Victorian Tea Party is all about the expression of manners.

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