Author’s Note: Yesterday afternoon, a friend and I had a delightful “tea date” at Florrie Kaye’s Tea Room. On the way home, my thoughts wandered to the very first tea party I gave at my home; the beginning of many delicious and lovely tea parties with special friends. Today is rainy and gloomy, perfect for retelling “Tea is now served.”
In the late ’80s on a bone-chilling cold and rainy February afternoon, Mom helped me with my very first tea party. Our guests shook off rain drops from their coats and rubbed their hands together to get the circulation back. Mom and I quickly led them to the table and soon they were holding steaming cups of fragrant tea and thawing out.
We served four different types of sandwiches she and I had made earlier that day, and I had baked scones from scratch. There were several types of tea from which to choose; no tea would be complete without preserves, clotted cream and tiny pastries. Over the tinkling noise of tea cups being placed in their saucers and soft piano music in the background, the chatter was warmly muted and cheerful.
There have been many tea parties over the years. I found a “go-to person” who creates mouth-watering tea sandwiches and melt-in-your mouth scones for my parties. This of course allows me to concentrate on what I love best: presentation.
During her travels, Mom bought me many tea cups and saucers and I have added some of my own. I’ve complemented this collection with lovely and unusual tea pots—one features a kitty sitting on top of a sofa!
I set my table the night before, placing a lace table cloth over colored linen. Carefully picking and choosing cups, saucers and sandwich plates for each guest is most enjoyable for me, and as I’ve read and seen in popular tearooms, they do not have to match! Sandwiches, scones and pastries are plated on serving dishes that were Mom’s. A Belleek sugar and creamer and sugar tongs brought home from my trip to London rest alongside a Limoges cup and saucer brought home by Mom from France—I’m suddenly in a fantasy world, maybe Harrods or The Palm Court or Giverny Gardens?
Watching me set up one evening before a party, Art gave his approval of my table: “I can see how you love doing this: the table is elegant. But Ruthie, it’s a good thing men won’t be at your tea. The cups are too small for our big hands. We’d be like bulls in a china shop!”
One of my guests gave me a subscription to Tea Time, a magazine which features tearoom locations throughout the country, food, table settings, etc. With utter enjoyment, I read it from cover to cover. I’m also hooked on the delightful Tea Shop Mysteries books by Laura Childs, who features recipes at the conclusion of the book. Maybe at a future tea party I will try Theodosia’s Tea-Marbled Eggs or Sweet Potato Scones or Lavender Egg Salad or even Hot ‘n’ Cheesy Crab Casserole. Who knows?
Please join me in a cup of brisk Assam or silky apricot tea (my favorite), and maybe a lemon scone. A comforting and welcome thought indeed!
Ruthann can be reached at email@example.com.