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
- 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).
- Add small amount of boiling water to teapot to preheat and prevent crazing. Swirl and discard before filling to desired level.
- Submerge 1 teaspoon or tea bag per 6-ounce cup. This is less than a mug and the volume of a traditional teacup.
- 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.
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 lights” are dubbed so for a reason. One candle in this stainless steel warmer keeps a pot at sipping temperature for hours.
Large, looseleaf teas have room to unfurl in this floating infuser
perfect for larger batches (and sweet tea!)
Tea service gets a little sweeter with this chic French sugar and creamer set from Le Creuset.
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.
A petite version of your usual favorite is an easy way to add a savory element to a tea party.
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.
If you choose to make biscuits, serve them with a slathering of sweetness.
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.