How to Host a Summer Tea Party

Tea parties have been around for hundreds of years but it is the United Kingdom's tradition of enjoying an afternoon High tea that truly brought these events into the limelight of Social Affairs. 

High tea used to be the practice of having the afternoon Tea at the high table rather than the lower drawing room table but in the 1700's this changed. Since then High Tea has come to be a term that describes a much more elegant affair. Homes and restaurants set out their best china, ladies don their finest bonnets, and guests are served a selection of the finest delicacies and most exquisite teas.

So what is the best time to host a Tea Party? Although any occasion is suitable the months of January and June are actually the very best times to celebrate being a tea drinker. January is National Hot Tea Month and June is celebrated as National Iced Tea Month. You may not have been aware of these very special holidays but they do indeed exist and are the perfect time to invite others to share in the delightful ritual of a tea party. These events are always fun so whether you decide to host a standard party, a High Tea Social, or an Iced Tea Party you just know that it is going to be a delightful event. Put a few willing friends on your guest list, plan a short calendar of events, and in no time at all you'll have the makings for your Tea Party.

There are always the standard trays of fancy sandwiches, and tasty tidbits, to go along with the refreshing tea beverages. No Tea Party is complete without a wide variety of fancy sweets to nibble on throughout the afternoon. You can create these treats yourself or you can hold a potluck affair and have each of your guests bring with them one tray of cookies, brownies, muffins, or cake to add to the mix.

Potlucks save a lot of the work involved in preparing a Tea Party yet insures that there is a wide assortment of treats that might not otherwise be available to your guests. By having your friends each bring a tray of sweets you only have to provide the sandwiches, teas, and entertainment for the event. Fancy tea parties are fun but you are ultimately the one who gets to decide if you want a casual Tea Party using paper plates and napkins to dine with or if you want to go in true Tea Party style and use fine china and silver teaspoons to dine. 

Logically a smaller party using just one table is generally easier to arrange while a larger event will require a little more planning. Each individual table can be decorated with its own teapot and tray of treats before hand, or a couple servers can be used to serve the tea throughout the event.

For an easy to host event one long table can be set up buffet style to hold the sweets and beverages. This allows your guests to help themselves to their favourite teas and treats and frees you up to simply relax and enjoy your tea party.

Any ladies attending the event should bring with them a summer bonnet. You can either have your ladies wear their fanciest bonnets to your event or you can have each person attending your event bring a plain straw hat with them and they can decorate it there. You can supply the items need to decorate these hats or when you send out the invitations to your event you can instruct each guest to bring with them, glue, tape or pins for fastening items to their hats. You can also ask them to bring an assortment of ribbons, bows and flowers.

Before tea is served have your guests prepare their bonnets so they will be ready to wear for the remainder of the affair. Men can also bring along straw hats to decorate for themselves. Some of these creations can be quite the conversation pieces when they are completed. The hat decorating activity is a wonderful ice breaker as the guests tend to share decorating items, ideas, and laughter as they work on their hats. It is a great item to include in your party if you have a large number of guests attending.

For something a little different consider hosting your event in June with an icy cold touch to it. The entire month of June is dedicated as Iced Tea Month with June 10th officially celebrated as National Iced Tea Day. It can be a fun day to host a tea party. So how do you traditionally celebrate National Iced Tea Day? You attend or host an iced tea party featuring a variety of tasty cold teas and invite all your friends, relatives, or work acquaintances to join you in celebrating this unique event.

This type of party is distinctly different from your standard High Tea and come with a completely different set of guidelines to insure a successful event. The beverages at these parties are often served cold but the main shift away from the standard fare is in the variety of flavours of tea that are served.

What makes this event exciting is the number of varieties of iced tea that you can offer up to your guests. It is almost similar in theme to a wine tasting only rather than wine, the guest are offered numerous varieties of iced tea to tempt their palate. Preparing your teas is easy. You simply choose which flavours you want to offer up to your guests, brew them up the day before, and then allow each batch to sit overnight in the fridge to enhance its unique flavour.

Iced tea can be easily made in a number of ways and the good news is that it can be made from Green, Black, White, Oolong or any flavour of Herbal tea. This means that you are able to turn your favourite hot beverage into a refreshingly iced cold drink during the hot summer months.

A basic tea mix is made by simply steeping 4 teabags in your teapot, add about 4 tablespoons of sugar or honey into this strong tea while it is still warm enough to dissolve it, and then pour the mix into a quart container. Fill the remainder of the container with water and shake. It is that simple. Put the container in the fridge for the beverage to cool.

Adding additional flavours to your iced tea is very simple. You can create your own unique varieties by adding spices, fruit, or herbs but perhaps the easiest method of creating flavoured iced tea is to simply use herbal tea bags in your preparation. Prepare as above. Another method of flavouring iced tea is to add one half cup of your choice of orange, blueberry, grape, apple, raspberry, lemon, cherry or other juice into your one litre or one quart container of tea. You can also use fruit or berries, just be sure to cube your fruit, or crush your berries before adding them in with your tea mixture. Generally one half of a fruit, or one half cup of berries is sufficient to provide a rich flavour within the tea mix.

For spearmint or peppermint iced tea you can either purchase the herbal tea bags and use these to easily create your iced tea or you can add 2 tablespoons of the herb itself into your mix.

4 Teabags of your choice.
5 tablespoons sugar or honey
1 litre of water
Your choice of fruit or flavouring

Put 4 teabags of your choice into a large size teapot, add in boiled water, and allow to steep. To allow your sugar to dissolve, add your sugar while tea is still warm. When slightly cooled transfer the tea from your teapot into a one litre bottle. Fill the remainder of the bottle with water. Shake to mix. Place in the fridge to cool. You choose the flavour of your iced teas and the add ins that you want to include in them. With the wide selection of herbal teas on the market, making flavoured iced teas is very easy, and inexpensive. Then serve a variety of fancy sandwiches and baked goods alongside your iced teas to create a Tea extravaganza.

Whichever type of tea party it is that you decide to host serve up plenty of this relaxing beverage and have a delightful time enjoying the company of friends and family. 

Rock Sugar Stir Sticks: Old fashioned rock sugar candy on a stick can be used to sweeten your beverage as you stir it. You can create a multi-colored batch of rock candy to make for a delightful and novel way of sweetening the tea at your next party.

You will need 4 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water for your basic recipe ingredients. Supplies you will need to make your rock candy will include one cooking pot, a wooden spoon for stirring, a glass jar, a bamboo skewer, and a wooden ruler with a hole in the centre of it.

Combine the water and sugar in your cooking pot. Cook over medium high heat till mixture reaches a boil. Continue boiling till the mixture turns clear. Then remove from heat and pour this solution into a jar. Lay the ruler across the top of the jar so that the hole is approximately at the centre of the jar. Place your bamboo skewer through the hole in the ruler so that it stands upright in the middle of your jar. The sugar crystals will attach themselves to the stick and begin to form again one upon the other to create the rock candy. In about seven days it will be complete. If you want coloured candy with just a hint of additional flavouring add a few drops of food dye or berry juice to your solution while it is cooking.

Crafty Gift Ideas With A Tea Theme: A nice themed craft idea is to prepare gifts of tea using either pre-designed envelopes or personalized ones which you design and print. Using your own packaging gives you the opportunity of placing your own unique message on each of the tiny tea envelopes that you create.

Once you have your envelopes made you simply fill the bags with your choice of herbal, green, white or Oolong leaf.  There are a variety of Tea Envelope designs available online and these can be easily edited to your own preferences. Simply Google it.

These envelopes can also be used to create unique blends of loose leaf tea. Purchase bulk tea leaf, herbs, and dried fruits and berries at your local health food store and then mix and match to create your own distinctive blends. Ginseng - spearmint - blueberry - Green - lemon grass- ginger you are only limited by your imagination.

You can also use these same envelopes to create a gift selection of herb seeds that are popular gardening plants. Lemon grass, spearmint, peppermint, chamomile, fennel, lavender, thyme, rose and bee balm (commonly known as bergamot). But don't stop there you can also create a window box Tea Herb Garden and plant the most popular and easily grown herbs used for flavourings. Lemon grass, spearmint, peppermint, thyme, and chamomile. There are a wide variety of gift ideas for this theme.

Crafty little Iced Tea Recipe Booklets are very easy to make. There are an array of iced tea recipes available online and it is very easy to print off recipes from the Internet. Place each recipe on a separate page in your book, and then bind the pages together with either a cloth, or construction paper cover. Use a hole punch to make holes along the left side or top side of your pages then bind the pages together with brightly coloured ribbon or string.

A wonderfully relaxing craft idea is a Bath Tea Bag. You simply need two square pieces of cloth approximately 2 to 6 inches in size. Using a sewing machine, stitch your square into a pocket, leave the top of this pocket open so you will be able to fill the Bath bag with your choice of dried flower petals, bath salts, epsom salts, sea salt, milk powder, green tea, oatmeal flakes, bath scents or scented oils. Green tea is an antibacterial so the perfect ingredient to add into this bath bag.

After you have your pocket filled, either fashion a drawstring closure, or stitch the remaining side closed. Add a string to the top of your Bath time Teabag so it is able to dangle into the bathtub.
One of the easiest crafts to design in a tea theme is a themed gift basket. This is a great project for a group of people to do together because you can each bring a selection of items to swap, trade, and share as you are filling your baskets.

Items to gather for the baskets are: teacups or mugs, tea balls, teaspoons, a selection of herb teas, a selection of loose leaf teas, a selection of green, black, white or Oolong teas, small packages of cookies, mints or other small candies, cupcakes or small cakes, cinnamon sticks, tiny jars of honey, small packages of sweeteners, and any other items that you know would be sure to delight the person that you are preparing your basket for. Be sure to bring plenty of ribbons, bows, flowers, tinsel, bells and glitter to decorate your basket with.

Also keep in mind that you don't have to limit yourself to just baskets for your gifts. You can use a teapot, a summer bonnet, decorative tin, or even a wooden box or teacup instead. Then fill your base with all the themed goodies that you would otherwise place into a basket. A simple gift idea is to fill a teapot or teacup with packages of assorted mints or tea packets. However it is that you decide to celebrate your love of tea enjoy a nice hot cup or a delightful ice cold glassful. It is the ideal beverage to share with co-workers, friends, and family.

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