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tea party food

Tea History & Culture

Authentic European Tea Tradition: Make an Unforgettable Tea Party in 2022 

June 23, 2022

Are you looking to take your tea party up a notch? Step into the world of the past and enjoy historically accurate tea party traditions to add the perfect details to your next gathering. Many of our modern-day tea rituals come from Europe, which is why we’re exploring some of the top ways that you can make your tea party one to remember. Read on to learn about some of the top European tea traditions that you can include in your next gathering today. 

Are Western tea traditions rooted in European rituals? 

While European tea traditions are extremely popular and present in many of the United States tea traditions in 2022, there is also a heavy Eastern influence from the Asian and Middle Eastern regions, islands, and nations. 

What are European-inspired Western tea traditions? 

Below, we’ve listed some of the more prevalent European influences that you can find or add to your next tea party gathering. 

1. Tea sandwiches and snacks served 

There hasn’t always been a history of delicious snacks served at tea time. While there may have been other instances of food being served alongside hot or iced teas, the tradition was largely attributed to having been started by the Duchess of Bedford, Anna Maria Stanhope, in 1840. The entire design of this shift was to clearly differentiate a time between lunch and dinner meals that would allow tea-takers to rest and recharge with food and drink. There was also a heavy influence from the European concept of hospitality, as it gave hostesses and royalty a chance to show off their lavish wealth and gilded sets. 

In present-day America, there’s a good chance that you’re already incorporating snacks into your tea-time routine — especially if you’re hosting a large gathering or tea party. However, it’s likely that you’re looking to go a little “bigger” and “better” for your next event. It may be time to toss the cucumber sandwiches and dive into these tea-inspired eats, like these delicious matcha-infused tea desserts. 

Looking for the ultimate guide for the perfect tea time pairing? Check out our guide to tea-food matching. 

2. Timing of tea: Have you tried “elevenses”? 

Looking for a morning with more of a kick? Host a caffeinated tea and coffee-based “elevenses” — a cultural British refreshment hour between breakfast and lunch, featuring a hot or iced beverage and the company of your closest friends. While there isn’t a specific person attributed to this trend, it is historically shown to have become popular in the mid-1800s. This also aligns with the timeline that teas began to become more diverse and distributed throughout the European region, which began in the mid-1600s and spread more rapidly as transportation channels grew in the 1700s and 1800s. 

The concept of elevenses really focuses on the time of day that you choose to indulge and may be a great way for early risers and exhausted folks to enjoy some time to recharge in the midday with their families and friends. You can enjoy a tea party every day with this habitual inclusion! You can make your elevenses more delicious with the addition of a quality, caffeinated black tea blend, or a soothing and energizing green tea to kick off the second half of your workday. 

Making tea midday for your elevenses can also be a form of meditation in itself. If you find yourself struggling with anxiety and stress, use elevenses to enjoy a more mindful and present experience through tea making and celebration. Your family and friends will enjoy it too! 

3. Set table seating, arrangements, and decor 

The art of decor and seat arrangement at a tea party was emphasized throughout the European tea craze, especially as royalty began to adopt the concept of the then-newfangled tea gatherings. Today, it still is very important and is highlighted as a way to be a more gracious and considerate host. In 19th century Europe, the goal of these parties was to gossip and speak freely. Hosts would set the scene with lavish decorations, arrangements, and crisp white linens to highlight the gemlike tones of the fruits and the natural color of the tea. They would also insist on specific seating arrangements in accordance with the publication from Lady Gertrude Elizabeth Campbell in 1893 — which highlighted the importance of arranged seating to avoid a large circle of chairs in the garden — which would hinder the spread of gossip and good conversation. 

Your goal at your tea party likely isn’t gossip. However, in the casual age, you can add a unique touch of tradition by using your best linens, china, and tea sets as you would have in that historical period. You can also feel free to indulge in a little “tea” yourself…we won’t tell! 

Looking for inspiration for your table setting and theme? Be sure to check out Hadley Court’s guide to a traditionally decorated tea party! 

Tea Recipes

Tea Party Favorites: Ten Top Snacks for Your Next Gathering 

May 18, 2022

There’s nothing quite as social and fun as a tea party. With lessened pandemic restrictions, we’re seeing more and more people gather for parties with their friends and loved ones. Or, maybe you feel like having a tea-centered date night with you and a partner. No matter what type of event you’re planning, there’s one inspiration that you can draw from for all of them: the delicious food you can pair with any number of loose leaf tea options.  If you’re looking for the perfect snacks for your next gathering, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dive into the ten top snacks and favorites that you can make for your next tea party. 

What type of food is served at a tea party? 

Tea parties are known for their light eats and snacks that are generally enjoyed after lunch but before dinner. Because of this, we want to avoid anything excessively rich or fried. If you do have something that’s rich (i.e. lemon curd,) it’s served with something that is light to give the visitor the best of both experiences without overpowering the tea. Food made should be complementary to the tea, so we also want to avoid any overly strong flavors or smells that would dull the taste and sensory experience of the tea. 

1. Mixed Berry Tartlets 

Tarts are delicious at a tea party, no matter what filling is used. Tartlets are even better and give you the full taste and experience of a tart without being excessively heavy or large. This mixed berry tartlet is an excellent pick to kick off your tea party, as its rich custard filling is tempered by the light, floral-tasting fruit and berry mixture. The crust is buttery soft and flakes to the touch, making this the perfect snack to enjoy next to a cup of your favorite tea.

2. Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies with Lemon Glaze 

What better snack for your tea party than a snack that intermingles delicious flavors with raw, pure-tasting Earl Grey tea? These shortbread cookies are decadent without being too heavy and offer a delicious, crumbled texture. The lemon glaze offers that familiar “zing” that you can enjoy with lemon in tea and makes the flavor profile brighter and more suitable for similar teas. We know you won’t be able to get enough of this delicious cookie! 

 3. Charcuterie Boards with Extra Cheese 

We know that this suggestion comes as a surprise to many of you, but rich and harder cheeses can actually pair excellently with tea. This is especially true in the case of a charcuterie board, where you can enjoy a variety of other bread, biscuits, jams, and treats alongside your cup! Our favorite unconventional pairings include a Creme Brulee Oolong tea with a rich, salty-savory sheep’s milk cheese, or another loose leaf black tea alongside some imported French Camembert. You can always mix and match pairings for yourself as well, and see if anything else unconventional and new suits your taste preference! 

Looking for more new tea recipes to try? Check out our top list of tea-infused desserts you won’t be able to put down!

 4. Basil & Shrimp Tea Sandwiches

This sandwich is more nutrient-dense than most tea sandwich types you’ll see and is perfect for a late afternoon tea that will precede your lighter dinner choices. The shrimp provides a nutty, sweet flavor to the spread that cuts nicely with the herby notes of the basil, making this the perfect sandwich to enjoy next to a cup of herbal tea. This recipe is also rare to find used, so we believe that this will be the “one” to impress your next tea party guests! 

5. Mini Quiches 

Mini quiches are delicious and exceptionally easy to make, despite their complex and rich flavor profile. Quiches are very versatile as well, allowing you to adapt the taste and additions to your overall taste and preference. This recipe can be made in minutes, using items you find around the house, in your fridge, and with your mini muffin tin. Greet your guests with the delicious smell of their tea party favorites and your favorite tea blends…we’re sure you won’t be able to get enough! 

6. Mini Lemon Meringue Pies 

This recipe is a bit more involved, but nothing quite beats the flavor and freshness that mini lemon meringues can bring to your next gathering or celebration. These pies feature a rich, creamy meringue topping and the famous lemon-pie filling that blends perfectly with really any flavored tea blend you choose. They are delicious, light, and the overall perfect tea snack for any season or occasion — but we especially love these in the summer months. 

7. Smoked Salmon Canapes 

While this one may seem unconventional, it’s another blend that can’t be missed at your next gathering. Smoked salmon is delicious in any vessel or recipe, and offers that unique, savory-smoky flavor that pairs perfectly with a variety of tea blends. Smoked salmon has become fairly easy to find at your local grocery store, making this recipe both easy to make and next-level tasty for your next tea party!