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tea party

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! 

Tea History & Culture

Pinky’s Up or Down? Tea Etiquette 101

November 16, 2021

Etiquette, in simpler words, is defined as good behavior which distinguishes human beings from animals. Etiquette refers to behaving in a socially responsible way.  From dipping you scone in your teacup to who pours the tea, we are diving in and discussing it all. In order to discuss proper tea etiquette, it must be understood that there are two different types of tea traditions: Afternoon Tea and High Tea. Afternoon Tea and High Tea are often mistaken for one another because many people don’t know that they are completely different meals. In traditional British tea ceremonies, afternoon tea was understood as tea that is meant for the upper class whereas high tea was meant for the lower class. Nowadays, we distinguish the two by the times in which they are served and the food dishes that accompany the tea.

Afternoon Tea

As we know it today, afternoon tea is traditionally served between 3 and 5pm. English afternoon teatime usually falls at 4pm, but in the US it is sometimes served as early as 2pm. Afternoon Tea can be credited by Anna Maria Russell, the seventh Duchess of Bedford. In 1840 during Anna’s reign as Duchess, she would become hungry in the mid-afternoon which is when her staff would serve her tea and light sandwiches to keep her full until dinnertime. This habit became a tea tradition in the United Kingdom and has since become a fashionable social event.

Afternoon tea has also been referred to as “low tea” because of the table setting at a low table, in contrast to high tea which is served at higher tables. It was a time meant for the upper class to enjoy tea paired with a lite bite to fill the gap between lunchtime and dinnertime. Some of the lite bites served at afternoon tea include bite-sized sandwiches, freshly baked scones, and delicate pastries. It is important to note that food should be eaten in order of savory to sweet; no dunking your scone into your tea cup!

High Tea

High tea is offered in the early evening. Although high tea includes a more substantive fare when it comes to food, it is less fancy than afternoon tea as it was originally intended for people of the middle or lower classes. High tea is served at a dining table or high counter at the end of the workday. When the tea traditions were first started, afternoon tea was meant for the rich to enjoy while they go about their afternoon waiting for dinnertime. Afternoon tea was not an option to the working class as they were still working at that time and could not afford to spend several hours sipping tea during the workday. High tea is when the working class was expected to enjoy their tea as it was after the work day.

As mentioned earlier, high tea’s food menu was much more substantive than afternoon tea. Some items include: steak, kidney pie, pickled salmon, crumpets and potato to name a few. The reason that high tea was heartier was because this was essentially dinner for the people of the lower class. Whereas afternoon tea was just to hold people of the upper class over until their dinner which was usually around 8 pm.

Tea Etiquette

When attending afternoon tea and high tea, it is important to follow the dress code for afternoon tea and arrive in “smart casual” fashion. Your outfit should be neat and appropriate. For women this may include an appropriate length dress with a sweater or light jacket. For men, proper attire can include pants and a collared shirt. Clothing items that are not appropriate for afternoon tea include t-shirts shorts, or any type of athleisure. It is also not appropriate to wear anything that may be too revealing such as lowcut shirts and skin-tight dresses. The attire for afternoon tea should be a simple “smart casual” outfit similar to what some may wear to church.

Proper manners are also expected when attending both tea ceremonies. Proper manners include sipping your tea quietly, holding the teacup by the handle, and having your pinkie fingers down (yes, you read that right. Pinky’s are meant to be down!) Another expected rule includes keeping electronic devices away. There are also rules in place when it comes to tea and food.

The entire tea set should remain together. If someone asks for tea then the entire set should be passed to them. The saucer remains on the table and is not meant to be picked up while enjoying a cup of tea unless standing or sitting without a table. When adding anything to your tea, milk is expected to be added first. Do not over stir your tea. As previously noted, the order in which you eat your food is also important. Savory foods including bite-sized sandwiches should be consumed first, followed by scones, and saving the sweets for last. Food must be eaten with your hands, and a scone should be broken into smaller pieces before indulging. The handle of your teacup should be pointed a 3 o’clock if right handed and 9 o’clock if left handed.

What to serve

Food differs when attending afternoon or high tea. Afternoon tea can expect light food bites such as mini sandwiches, scones, and mini desserts. High tea requires silverware to eat the food and typically includes some sort of meat dish. Just as there are certain foods served during afternoon tea, there are certain teas served as well. Teas served during afternoon tea include Earl Grey, and other variations of black teas such as Assam and Darjeeling which can be found on our online collection of loose leaf teas. Our earl grey tea is perfect to serve at afternoon tea as it offers a light taste of delicately blended large leaf black tea and Bergamot oil. Although it is less traditional, herbal teas may also be offered during afternoon tea. Stronger teas are served during High Tea to compliment the heartier meal. This may include a black tea such as the Blackcurrant black tea listed on our online collection of black teas.

While many use the terms afternoon tea and high tea interchangeably, it is important to know and understand the differences between the tea. Tea rooms are found all across the world and may differ in traditions. Read our post on Tea Rooms to Add to Your Bucket List to find a place near you today.

Tea Travel

Tea Rooms to Add to Your Bucket List

July 30, 2021

Image Courtesy of: POPSUGAR Photography / Tara Block

From the aesthetic interiors to the mouthwatering tea party delicacies, we found 10 tea destinations across the globe that need to be on your bucket list. Sip your tea in style at one of these 10 incredible tea spots.

Sketch – London, UK

Calling all lovers of pink and aesthetics, Sketch is THE place for you. If you find yourself in London and are looking for an afternoon out, we recommend trying Sketch. Not only will you love the interior of this fabulous spot, but you can also enjoy Michelin-starred food while sipping a cup of afternoon tea.

Bellocq Tea Atelier – Brooklyn, NY

Tucked away in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn is the Bellocq Tea Atelier. This hidden gem offers a wide variety of luxury teas to choose from and is even available for sale online. Feel at home with the antique bedroom-style pastel décor and draping greenery inside this cute Brooklyn tea wonderland. The Bellocq Tea Atelier offers tastings of their luxury tea so you can pick one to your liking.

Image Courtesy of: Sadie Lebow (guest of a guest)

Cha Cha Matcha – NY & LA

If you are matcha-obsessed like the rest of us, then you must visit Cha Cha Matcha. With locations in both New York and Los Angeles, this cute chain of matcha shops offer an alternative to artisanal coffee culture with a menu full of tasty delights made from ceremonial grade matcha. Enjoy everything from matcha soft serve to a matcha latte, and don’t forget to take an Instagram-worthy picture in their aesthetic shop.

Jiufen Teahouse – Taiwan

Perched on a hillside in Taiwan is where you will find the quaint and iconic Jiufen Teahouse. This small town was once a dense area for mining, but now is home to over 2 dozen teahouses. The interior ambiance of this 2-story teahouse is meant to replicate an old wooden house in Jiufen. It is unique in its structure and decor and offers fantastic views of the city. Learn about traditional Taiwan tea while enjoying a cup at the Jiufen Teahouse.

Lake Agnes Tea House – Alberta, Canada

The Lake Agnes Tea house is in the Alberta Rocky Mountains of Canada. The home in which it resides in once served as a refuge home for hikers where they began serving tea in 1905. It is a family-run teahouse that has created a new tradition of enjoying tea on the mountain top at Lake Agnes. Enrich yourself in the Canadian tea culture of Alberta and enjoy a cup of fine loose-leaf tea at the Lake Agnes Tea House.

Image Courtesy of: The Ritz Carlton

Salon Proust, Ritz Paris – Paris, France

Experience the ritual of afternoon tea at the Salon Proust of the Ritz Carlton in Paris. Afternoon tea at the Salon Proust is served in the traditional British style. Find your tea accompanied by savory sandwiches, biscuits, scones, and Parisian pastries from the head pastry chef. This tearoom will take you back to the iconic French Rococo period with its picturesque décor. The virtuous flavors and colors of the Salon Proust will leave you begging for more.

Aman Tokyo – Japan

Enjoy afternoon tea at the luxurious Aman Tokyo Hotel. The minimalistic décor creates a relaxing ambiance with soft white lighting and balanced architectural features. They offer high tea service with aesthetic presentations and vibrantly tasteful Japanese teas. Enjoy authentic Japanese pastries and savory foods paired with your favorite traditional Japanese teas.  

Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum and Mason – London, UK

Located on the 4th floor of Fortnum and Mason in London is the Diamond Jubliee Tea Salon. This space has served many different purposes as it once served as a family apartment, interior decorating department, and antiques department. Visit this incredible award-winning tea salon for a sophisticated afternoon tea experience.

Image Courtesy of: Dushanbe Tea House

Dushanbe Tea House – Boulder, CO

I know what you are thinking. A Teahouse in Colorado may sound a little random, but what you may not know is that this special tea house was created as a gift from Tajikistan. During the 1980s, Boulder and Dushanbe, became sister cities as they entered a cultural agreement to encourage tourism and build a friendship across seas. Artisans in Tajikistan carefully built this incredible teahouse and shipped it across the world in 1990. It now stands as a beautiful cultural temple teahouse in Boulder that can be characterized by its’ intricate detailing and vibrant colors.

Huxinting Teahouse – Shanghai

Complete your trip to Shanghai with a visit to the Huxinting Tea House. The façade of this incredible teahouse is a reason to visit in itself. Located in the main pavilion of the Yuyuan Garden, this teahouse is one of the oldest operating teahouses in Shanghai as it dates back to the ruling of the Ming Dynasty in 1855. Enjoy traditional Chinese tea and architecture when you visit the picturesque Huxinting Teahouse.

These 10 tea destinations are rich in flavor, culture, and history. Whether you opt for the traditional route or the alternative one, these tea spots are sure to impress you (and your taste buds).

Tea Accessories

Everything You Need For a Super Cute Kids’ Tea Party

August 15, 2017

So your little boy or girl wants to have a tea party… Great! A childhood pastime, the tea party is an easy way to introduce some sophistication into your tiny tots’ life. If you want to get a little fancy with this affair, we’re here to help. We’ve sourced some great options for you to take this kids’ tea party from basic to bangin’. Get ready for cuteness overload:


Set the tone for a cute tea party with the invites. Consider these adorable invitations:

1) Easy Fill In Invitations

M&H tea party invitations

These colorful invitations from M&H Invites come in a pack of 20. Each is 4×6 and made from heavy weight matte card stock, and the fill-in-the-blank option makes it customizable for anyone.

2) Victorian High Tea Party Invitation

Victorian High Tea Party Invitation 

If you want to keep it cute and classy, opt for these Victorian saucer-shaped invites. The front teases “You’re Invited” and the back features details for your soiree.

3) Teapot-Shaped Invites

Teapot-Shaped InvitesThese invitations from Tea For You will get guests in the mood for a tea-party the second they open the envelope.


1) Tea Party Decals

Tea Party Decals

Decorate your walls temporarily with these tea-themed decals from Art Appeel. Your kids will love getting to stick things on the walls, and you’ll love that they can come right off!

2) Teapot CenterpieceTeapot Centerpiece

Stay on-theme with this sweet Tea Time Honeycomb centerpiece from Target.

3) Tea Party Flower Hats

Tea Party Flower Hats

Help the children get in the tea party spirit by donning these fun hats from Cutie Collections. Available in matching colors or a variety, they’ll bring color and class to the event. If your child likes to get really fancy, consider adding white gloves to the outfit.

4) Mad Tea Party Photobooth Props

Mad Tea Party Photobooth Props

 Have a little photo fun with these Alice in Wonderland-inspired tea party props. This set includes 13 cardstock and plastic props, including teapots, top hats, and clocks. Perfect for the Instagram-loving parents in attendance.


While grown-ups may be content to sip tea and talk for hours, a kids’ tea party will be a disaster if you don’t have some funtivities to keep the children occupied. Consider these activities for some structured fun:

1) Personalized Coloring Books

Personalized Coloring Books

These coloring books from Frecklebox are personalized to include the host and guests’ names. 20 pages each, children will enjoy sipping on tea while coloring in rhyming pages about the event.

Keep things interesting—and cute!—by offering children these teapot-shaped crayons from Red Elm Designs to go with their coloring books:

teapot-shaped crayons

2) Activity PlacematsActivity Placemats

Keep kids engaged with these placemats. They’ll have fun playing tic-tac-toe with each other, decorating a tea party scene, and showing off their matching skills, all in one convenient place.

3) DIY Party CupsDIY Party Cups

Kids will love decorating these paper cups from Creative Converting. Added grown-up bonus: no dishes to wash!

And last but not least…


Choose a tea that tastes great and has no caffeine to keep your kids’ taste buds happy and their bodies healthy:

1) Chocolate Peppermint Tea
Chocolate Peppermint Tea

A wonderful combination for palates young and old, chocolate and mint go together like PB&J. This herbal dessert tea from Stash Tea will delight young party-goers and their chaperones.

2) Cinnamon Apple Spice

 Cinnamon Apple Spice

Kids will love this tea from Celestial Seasons that tastes like apple pie. Caffeine-free, it’s a safe, tasty treat that’s perfect for any tea party.

3) Orange & Spice Orange & Spice

This herbal tea from Bigelow will satisfy children with its notes of orange and roasted hickory.


Types of Tea

5 Modern Rituals Surrounding a Simple Cup of Tea

June 1, 2017

Just over 240 years have passed since the Sons of Liberty defiantly tossed an entire shipment of tea into the Boston harbor. And so began the Revolutionary War. In the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, John Adams wrote letters to his wife that professed his love for tea, but admitted his reluctant switch over to coffee. Apparently, tea had become unpatriotic and lost its appeal. Thus, coffee began it’s reign.

Needless to say, we have a complicated relationship with tea in the States.

But regardless of where it’s being consumed, tea stands apart from coffee for a variety of reasons. One of the most interesting, perhaps, is the idea of “ritual” that seems to follow tea around like a pre-requisite. It may be an echo of rituals across the globe. It might also be the very nature of tea – the time it takes to brew and the variety of flavors that lend itself to a more sophisticated appreciation than a cup of coffee.

We could write an entire book on all of the ancient rituals surrounding tea. Instead, let’s explore the rituals that exist today that are often left overlooked:

1. The Children’s Tea Party

You’d be hard pressed to find a six year old who doesn’t know what a tea party is, let alone have organized one themselves. It’s almost a phenomenon – what other social event do kids regularly orchestrate on their own? Childhood tea parties are not only incredibly adorable, they are also surprisingly well thought out. The table is set, “guests” gather around, (imaginary) tea is poured and sometimes cookies even make an appearance. Thank you Ye Olde English children’s stories for keeping tea parties alive.

2. The Morning Cup of Tea

First things first, let’s be clear: tea in the morning requires an entirely different process than coffee. A (good) morning cup of tea requires that you heat water, steep your leaves, and wait. And wait…It’s kind of a zen experience, having to wait for your caffeine. Even if you decide to go to a cafe rather than brew at home, you never quite escape the patience that tea insists.

3. The Iced Black Tea and Lemonade

Or, as most people call them, Arnold Palmers (we have our own spin on that from National Lemonade Day). This drink has made a name for itself over the last several years. It started with a golf hero, but it’s fair to assume that few of the 20-something’s that regularly order the well-known beverage have a clue who the man actually is. The ritual lives in routine, and it’s always refreshing to know tea can seamlessly transition into warmer months and trendier libations.

4. The “Sick Day” Tea

“You should drink some tea.” How many times have you heard that advice when you had a runny nose or sore throat? It’s such common sense at this point, and yet you can’t get away from the suggestion. There is a conception, and a valid one, that tea has healing properties. We aren’t doctors, but the doctors we know tell us this is more or less true. Now just imagine that moment after a long day of work and a nasty head cold when you take your first sip of piping hot chamomile tea with lemon, breathing in the steam. It truly feels like you’re drinking a magical healing elixir.

5. The Pot of Tea

This always feels like a big one. A full pot of tea seems to separate the casual drinkers from the die hard. Tea, typically, is a sipping drink. A pot of tea is an hour of your life that you have dedicated to tea (and usually something else… We’re not crazy, we realize you’re probably reading a book or working on a paper too). In that moment, when you fill your pot or order a full pot at the neighborhood cafe, you’ve established yourself as a real “tea drinker.” In our books, that’s a pretty awesome commitment.

We invite you to join us and share your favorite tea ritual.

Tell us. Share with us. Join in and help paint the picture of tea.