If you’re looking for afternoon tea party ideas, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. After all, there are so many fabulous options for food, tea sets, and decorations out there. On top of that, afternoon tea also has a reputation for being quite expensive — especially if you enjoy it at a restaurant or hotel. But the good news is that it is possible to throw an afternoon tea party at home without throwing away all your money in the process.
But before you start putting together your afternoon tea party on a budget, your first step should be familiarizing yourself with the basics. First off, it’s important to know that afternoon tea and high tea are not the same thing, even though they’re used interchangeably in many places outside of the United Kingdom. Many people say “high tea,” which is a no-frills, hearty meal with tea, when they really mean “afternoon tea,” which consists of the trademark scones, pastries, and small sandwiches, according to Tea Time magazine. Keeping the basic definition of afternoon tea in mind, it’s really up to you to decide what your afternoon tea will include for you and all your lovely guests.
Afternoon Tea Party Menu
Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a tea party without the actual tea, would it? It might be tempting to only select English breakfast tea or earl grey tea as options, but it’s good to keep in mind that not everyone likes those specific blends — or caffeine in their tea at all, for that matter. A good way to ensure that everyone can join in on the fun is by purchasing a variety box, such as Taylors of Harrogate Classic Tea Variety Gift Box, 48-Count ($11.13, Amazon). Not only does the box include eight different types of teas, the brand is also based in England. (And we all know that country takes tea very seriously!)
As for afternoon tea food, you might already be aware that scones are an absolute must. English afternoon tea expert Shael Mead even told The Washington Post that scones are the very essence of afternoon tea. If you’ve never made scones before, don’t be intimidated; they’re actually pretty easy to make, especially if you get creative. There’s even a scone recipe with just three ingredients out there just waiting for you to sink your teeth into it. And if you’re really pressed for time, there are quite a few delicious “just add water” scone mixes available, such as Sticky Fingers Bakeries Premium Scone Variety Mix, Lemon Poppyseed and Wild Blueberry, Pack of 2 ($14.97, Amazon).
Beyond scones, it’s really up to you what kind of pastries, cakes, and crustless sandwiches you want to include. Just be sure to include a wide variety of selections and check in with your guests beforehand about any dietary restrictions (as you would before any party). If your guests are interested in healthier sweets, some decadent almond-maple bliss balls and matcha dark chocolate truffles might be right up their alley.
Afternoon Tea Party Necessities
After you’ve put so much time and effort into preparing food and drinks for your guests, it’s natural that you’d want to present them in an aesthetically pleasing way. For an afternoon tea party, it seems natural to opt for a tea set. Luckily, there are a lot of tea sets available online if you don’t own one already, such as the Dahlia Porcelain Butterfly Floral Tea Set, Tea Pot w. Infuser + 6 Dual Layer Tea Cups ($35.95, Amazon).
If you’re interested in adding a cake stand to your serving display, you might consider a collection that includes one, such as Porcelain Tea Cup and Saucer Coffee Cup Set and Dinnerware, Cup Set with Creamer, Sugar Pot & Cake Stand, Service for 4 ($58.99, Amazon). If you want to present all the food you serve on nice stands, you might considering buying a separate Klikel 3-Tier Round Serving Tray Platter ($24.49) or two, depending on how many guests you have.
Already own a couple tea sets but concerned that all the items don’t match perfectly? Don’t be! It’s becoming much more common for modern tea houses, especially in the United States, to use purposely mismatched sets for a fun and whimsical feel. Just find one of your favorite tablecloths, spread it out on the table in your kitchen or on your patio, maybe decorate with some pretty flowers, and get ready to indulge in a new kind of afternoon delight.
Time to enjoy a cuppa — or two!