How to Throw the Perfect Afternoon Tea Party

Throwing an afternoon tea party

How to Throw the Perfect Afternoon Tea Party

Have you ever wanted to host your own afternoon tea party?

I have a tradition with my sorority sisters from college to attend an afternoon tea at the Brown Palace every year during the holiday season.  The lobby is decorated so magnificently in Christmas decor and each year, it has a slightly different theme.  We love the entire process of choosing the teas, selecting our finger foods and caching up with one another over a steaming cup of hot tea.

With two daughters, I have hosted my share of tea parties as well.  We’ve done several birthday tea parties, a Valentine’s tea party, an afternoon tea party just for fun, and I’ve hosted several showers and gatherings with friends with an afternoon tea theme.  I love tea, and absolutely love hosting parties!

I partnered with Tiesta Tea to bring you this tutorial style post about how to host an afternoon tea party of your own.

How to Host an Afternoon Tea Party

Traditional afternoon tea is typically served from mid to late afternoon and includes an assortment of small finger foods like sandwiches, scones, lemon curd, jams, clotted cream, a variety of sweets and of course several options of tea.

afternoon tea party

Things you need for an Afternoon Tea Party

Selecting the Tea

It’s nice to offer your guests an assortment of loose leaf teas and tea filter bags or tea infusers so that they can make their own tea based on the flavor profiles they like.  I like to offer a both caffeinated and decaf teas like a hearty black tea, a fruity tea, a rooibos tea, and a mild chamomile tea.

For my recent tea party, I selected Tiesta Chai Love, which is a bold black, spicy, earthy chai tea, Tiesta Blueberry Wild Child, which is a tart fruity tea with blueberry, blackberry and pomegranate flavors, Tiesta Ginger Chocolate Tumeric Tea is a spiced cocoa rooibos tea with cocoa shell, ginger, caramel pieces, turmeric, chocolate chunks and sunflower petals.  I also selected the Tiesta Tea Lavendar Chamomile Tea which is a delicious, mild flavored chamomile with notes of fresh lavender in every sip.

We love the Tiesta Teas because not only do they taste amazing, they have functional health and wellness benefits as well.  The functional benefits include immunity boosting, energizing, antioxidant boosting with their eternity blend teas and relaxation.  I know I could use a little bit of each throughout my day, so I figured my guests can benefit from the variety of teas as well.

selecting a tea for afternoon tea party

Planning the Food

While sipping tea and enjoying the company of your friends, you want to be casual and enjoy finger foods like little tea sandwiches, scones and a sampling of desserts.  It’s important to serve both sweet and savory items to complement the tea and not force everyone into a sugar coma.  My two favorite tea sandwiches are curried egg salad sandwiches and a creamy chive and cucumber sandwich.  I always use a whole grain white bread to assemble the sandwiches and cut off the crusts as per tradition.  It really does make the sandwiches dainty and easy to eat without the crusts.  I save the crusts and make homemade croutons, so nothing is wasted. Sandwiches ideally should be made the morning of the tea party so they are fresh and the bread is not hard or soggy.

I love to make scones and muffins reflective of the season, so in the fall, it’s all about pumpkin,  like maple glazed pumpkin cookies, pumpkin spice scones, and pumpkin chocolate chip muffin tops.  In the winter, I make cranberry orange scones, and this delicious cranberry orange cake with orange whipped cream, chai scones and savory scones like cheddar jalapeno.   In the summer it’s all about berry scones and I like to mix it up and serve a lemon blueberry galette or even a peach galette when peaches are in season.  Scones, breads, muffins or cakes ideally should be made the day before so that you are not in the kitchen baking on the day of a tea party.

Serve your finger foods with an assortment of jams, lemon curd and freshly whipped cream.  I only add one teaspoon of powdered sugar when whipping my fresh cream, so that it’s not overly sweet and can be served with the savory scones as well.

food for an afternoon tea party

Serving the Tea

You will need a tea pot or two for serving the tea, as well as tea cups.  If you have several tea pots, you can brew several flavors of tea ahead of time and set them out.  Most people have a tea kettle, which is perfectly sufficient for an afternoon tea.  If you set out an assortment of teas, your guests can help themselves to the tea and you’ll always have hot water on hand.

I’ve traditionally used my fine china for tea parties, even for the kids afternoon tea parties because it makes the event seem so proper and festive, but if you don’t have formal china tea cups, any mug will do, just set them out next to the tea pot, assortment of teas and the food and let your guests help themselves.

It’s nice to offer the tea selections with cream, sugar, lemon and honey to accommodate your guests varied tastes.  It’s also nice to offer guests a little plate for which to dispose of their tea filter.

Hosting an afternoon tea party

You can also serve cocktails or mocktails at the tea, as some of your guests will enjoy something chilled as well.  Wine, champagne or a spritzer are all good options.  In the summer months, a blueberry mojito mocktail  or a sparkling blueberry peach refresher would be delicious.

Serving the Food

You will need an assortment of plates, napkins, and spoons, knives for your guests to serve themselves the tea and scoop up the whipped cream and jam.  I love using my three tiered cake stand to serve the food.  It makes for a beautiful presentation and allows the guests to help themselves to the assortment of foods available.   If you don’t have a tiered cake stand, any assortment of individual cake stands or plates would be perfectly fine to serve the food.

For the napkins, I happen to have beautifully embroidered tea napkins from my grandmother so I always bring those out for an afternoon tea party because they make the event just a bit more festive.  If you have cloth napkins, this would be the perfect time to use them.  If not, then pick-up some cute colored napkins to go with your theme or the season.

Flowers

Make your afternoon tea party complete with a gorgeous display of fresh flowers.  Flowers just make people happy and they set the tone for the party.  We purchased the gorgeous floral arrangement at Safeway as they have extremely talented floral designers that can work with any color theme and budget.  Safeway has a new wedding floral line that you can read about here.

afternoon tea party set up

Most importantly, an afternoon tea party is a chance to have fun reconnecting with friends, old and new while sipping tea and snacking on delicious finger foods.

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Tiesta Tea to help you plan an afternoon tea party using their delicious line of loose leaf teas.  We appreciate and encourage your support of the brands that make SuperSafeway possible.

The 1.8 oz Tiesta Tea pouches are available at all Safeway stores in the tea aisle and retail for $4.99 and the 3 oz tins retail for $10.99.  The 100 count Tiesta Tea filters are also available right next to the tea pouches and tins for $5.49.   Be sure to give these amazing new teas a try and let us know what you think!

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