Wednesday, January 12, 2011
The Vintage Tea Drinker
As many of you know, I love tea. I am a tea drinker myself and run a site called The Victorian Tea Parlor because I am simply fascinated by tea and having tea parties. Tea is among the world’s oldest and most revered beverages. It is today’s most popular beverage in the world, next to water. Tea drinking has long been an important aspect of Chinese culture. A Chinese saying identifies the seven basic daily necessities as fuel, rice, oil, salt, soy sauce, vinegar, and tea.
Tea was introduced to Europe in the 1600s; it was introduced to England in 1669. At that time, the drink was enjoyed only by the aristocracy because a pound of tea cost an average British laborer the equivalent of nine months in wages. The British began to import tea in larger qualities to satisfy the rapidly expanding market. Tea became Britain’s most important item of trade from China. All classes were able to drink tea as the tea trade increased and became less of a luxury. Now, tea is low in price and readily available.
I think the victorian era was one of the most delightful eras where people enjoyed tea parties all the time. A Victorian Tea Party would be the most elegant of all. Everything in Victorian times was done lavishly. So break out the china, silver, crystal & serving pieces. The fancier the better. Before you get your house ready & prepare your food, you have to send out invitations. There are so many options here. With today’s computer programs you can make some beautiful ones at home. Tuck an actual tea bag in the invitation. Perhaps make some using paper doilies & scrapbooking supplies.
DECORATING & SERVING
You will want to make the house as pretty as possible. Fresh flowers are a must, use them everywhere. Use traditional vases, or teapots that no longer have lids. Sometimes you can find then for a bargain since they no longer have a lid! Use candles both tapers & scattered votives or tea lights. Play soft music in the background. There are even tea party music CD’s you can purchase. For tablecloths try lace or damask. Scatter silk rose petals on your table. Use real linen or fancy paper napkins.
For Serving Pieces You Will Need At Least Some of the Following
Teapot Silver Or China
Sugar & Creamer
Salt & Pepper Shakers
Various Serving Trays
China Serving Platters
Silver Serving Pieces
Crystal Serving Pieces
Pedestal Cake Plates
Porcelain or China Teacups
Pretty Plates(mix & match is OK)
Jam or Jelly Serving Jar
Demitasse or Fancy spoons
You don’t need to spend a lot of money. You can find some great bargains at your local thrift stores, flea markets & antique malls. Mix & Match is Definitely OK for teacups & saucers. Even mismatched sets are OK.
YUMMY FOOD TO SERVE
Offer your guests a variety of tea flavors. You could leave them out in a lined basket. It is fun to use decorated sugar cubes & sugar tongs too!
There are many varieties of tea sandwiches you can serve. Try to find a firmer style bread, cut the crust off & cut sandwiches either diagonally so you have 2 triangle sandwiches or in 4’s for a bit smaller sandwiches. Cucumber sandwiches have long been a tea party tradition. This is an easy one that everyone likes. Just spread softened cream cheese on bread & top with thinly sliced cucumbers. Simple. For a fall or Christmas time tea try turkey & cranberry sauce sandwiches. Use your favorite egg salad or chicken salad recipe. try adding sliced almonds to your chicken salad recipe, yum! For other fillings you can use, watercress, tomatoes, cheese, deli meats, smoked salmon or ham salad. For Children spread softened cream cheese on bread & top with jelly, cut with cookie cutter. On top of the sandwich spread just a bit of softened cream cheese & dust with sprinkles!
SCONES BISCUITS COOKIES & CAKES
You cannot have a Victorian Tea Party without scones. You can find a variety of scone recipes on the internet. I have used scone mixes before as well. If you have a Panera Bread Store in your area, they have wonderful orange scones. You might like to have traditional devonshire cream, lemon curd or jelly or jams for your scones & biscuits.
Lemon Curd Recipe:
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup salted butter
1 cup sugar
Mix together melted butter & sugar. Add well beaten eggs & lemon juice. Place in double boiler or over simmering water. Stir continuously for 15 minutes or until thick. Allow to cool & refrigerate. Will keep for about 2 weeks.
Traditional Tea Cakes Recipe:
4 cups flour
1 cup butter
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 egg white, beaten
1/4 cup sugar
Mix all ingredients together, mix to paste with a little warm milk, cover with a cloth and let stand for about an hour in a warm place. Roll out cut with round or shaped cutter & bake on lightly greased or sprayed sheet at 350 degrees until they are golden brown.
For other treats serve a variety of breads, cakes & cookies. Serve sliced banana bread, shortbread cookies, your favorite holiday cookies, lady fingers, lemon cookies or biscuits, orange cake, peach or strawberry tarts or tartlets, petit fors, applesauce cake, brownies or fudge, carrot cake, gingerbread, or tiny cupcakes.
TEA PARTY THEMES
Do you need an excuse to have a Victorian Tea Party?? Next time you host a baby or bridal shower, make it a tea party, a birthday party for a friend, a Christmas tea is always beautiful. Host one for your ladies group at church or ladies Bible study. Celebrate an anniversary, invite over your grandma, or granddaughters, let your little girl invite her friends for a fancy dress up day! Combine a tea party with an etiquette class, have a garden tea party in the summer, and of course there is always Valentine’s Day.
Last year I went to the cutest little tea room while I was on my annual trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and while I was there I decided to take a picture inside their tea room.
So whatever the reason or occasion is, if you are a tea lover as myself, then you must always find an excuse to have a lovely tea party with your friends and family. I have stumbled upon such delightful pictures of beautiful tea rooms, tea pots and tea sets that I just had to share them on my blog!
This delightful pink victorian tea parlor is simply breath-taking!
Here are some more delightful and lovely tea rooms...
Now don't you think a place like this is great to just unwind?