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A Treat-Yourself Tea Party

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After a holiday reprieve from early mornings and daily commutes, getting back into the swing of things is no easy task. Give yourself and a few friends something to look forward to by planning an afternoon tea party. We have compiled a few tea-brewing tips, accessories, and tasty tea-friendly treats to help get your afternoon soiree started in style.

Steps to Steeping

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  1. Bring purified or spring water to a rolling boil to release its oxygen (unless you’re using green or white tea, in which case you’ll want to stop short so you don’t “cook” the delicate leaves. See time and temperature guides below).
  2. Add small amount of boiling water to teapot to preheat and prevent crazing. Swirl and discard before filling to desired level.
  3. Submerge 1 teaspoon or tea bag per 6-ounce cup. This is less than a mug and the volume of a traditional teacup.
  4. Remove tea bag, infuser, or strainer. Pour into drinking vessel and allow to cool to sipping temperature. Enjoy!

Hint: For oolongs and high-quality white and green teas, multiple (3–5) infusions can bring out the complexities of the teas. For oolongs, the third time’s the charm, and for white or green teas, new water can be added multiple times at increasing temperatures.

Tea Tip

Commercial tea bags are often comprised of the dust or “fannings” of broken tea leaves. Switching to full leaf loose tea allows you to select higher quality leaves, the highest-prized being small, whole leaves or tips called pekoe.

Tea Time Accessories

Tea Warmer

“Tea lights” are dubbed so for a reason. One candle in this stainless steel warmer keeps a pot at sipping temperature for hours.

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Floating Infuser

Large, looseleaf teas have room to unfurl in this floating infuser
perfect for larger batches (and sweet tea!)

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Sugar + Creamer Set

Tea service gets a little sweeter with this chic French sugar and creamer set from Le Creuset.

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Tea Accompaniments

Keep your tea time treats petite and finger food friendly. Offering a choice of both sweet and savory selections is customary, but of course feel free to design your menu

Cakes and Pastries

Individual pastries add an elegant touch to afternoon tea but a slice of quick bread is equally as tasty, and is a timesaver when time is short.

Orange Ginger Pound Cake

Photo by Olivia Rae James
Orange Ginger Poundcake from The Local Palate Test Kitchen in Charleston, South Carolina.

Hummingbird Cupcakes

Photo by Dan Moon
Hummingbird Cupcakes from Jan Moon of Dreamcakes Bakery in Homewood, Alabama.

Delicate Charlotte Tea Cakes

delicate charlotte tea cakes angel food cakes with whipped cream topping from Savannah's Back in the Day Bakery
Delicate Charlotte Tea Cakes from Cheryl & Griffith Day of Back in the Day Bakery in Savannah, Georgia.

 

Sandwiches

A petite version of your usual favorite is an easy way to add a savory element to a tea party.

Anglo-Indian Egg Salad Sandwiches

Anglo-Indian Egg Salad Sandwiches from Chef Vishwesh Bhatt of City Grocery Restaurant group in Oxford, Mississippi
Anglo-Indian Egg Salad Sandwiches from Chef Vishwesh Bhatt of City Grocery Restaurant group in Oxford, Mississippi.

Smoked Trout, Green Apple and Gouda Sandwich

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Smoked Trout, Green Apple and Gouda Sandwich from Joe Yonan, Food and Travel Editor at The Washington Post.

Tatiana’s Coconut Curry Chicken Salad

Photo by Christina Oxford
Tatiana's Coconut Curry Chicken Salad from Lavanya Sabin, Charleston, South Carolina

Biscuits and Scones

Biscuits and scones are best when served the same day they are made. If you prefer to make them ahead of time, freeze them just before baking and then thaw and bake the same day you plan on serving them.

Lemon-Currant Scones

Lemon Currant Scones
Lemon-Currant Scones from Ari Kolendar, formerly of Saint Alban in Charleston, South Carolina

Sweet Potato Biscuits

sweet potato biscuits
Sweet Potato Biscuits from The Local Palate Test Kitchen in Charleston, South Carolina

Buttermilk Biscuits

Photo by Jonathan Boncek
Buttermilk Biscuits from Kevin Gillespie, developed by his Chef de Cuisine, E.J. Hodgkinson at Woodfire Grill in Atlanta, Georgia

Biscuit Toppers

If you choose to make biscuits, serve them with a slathering of sweetness.

Apple Butter

Culinary Class_How to Make Apple Butter
Apple Butter from The Local Palate Test Kitchen in Charleston, South Carolina

Blueberry Vanilla Jam

Photo by Jonathan Boncek
Blueberry Vanilla Jam from The Local Palate Test Kitchen in Charleston, South Carolina

 

Cookies

A bite of shortbread or a dunk of biscotti is perfect for afternoon tea and there will be extras for an evening snack or pack up the spares for your guests to take home.

Thumbprint Cookies with Lemon Curd

Thumbprint Cookies with an Easy Homemade Lemon Curd
Thumbprint Cookies with Lemon Curd from The Local Palate Test Kitchen in Charleston, South Carolina

The Shack’s
Oatmeal Cream Pie à la Little Debbie

Photo by Sera Petras
The Shack’s Oatmeal Cream Pie à la Little Debbie from Chef Ian Boden of The Shack Restaurant, Staunton, Virginia

Fig Almond Biscotti

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Fig Almond Biscotti from The Local Palate Test Kitchen in Charleston, South Carolina