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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Afternoon Tea verses High Tea

What's the difference between "Afternoon Tea" and "High Tea"? The line between the two is beginning to blur these days but traditionally there is a difference. Afternoon tea in the traditional sense refers to a gathering occurring in the early afternoon, typically between 2 pm and 4 pm. Usually along with tea, light snacks like cucumber sandwiches, scones and light cakes are served. High tea, on the other hand, is usually in the late afternoon or evening and heavier foods or even dinner is served with tea.

One way to remember the difference is to think of why it was called "high tea" to begin with. Traditionally high tea is served at a dinner table and afternoon tea is usually served at small tables or low tables like coffee tables. Today more and more you could be invited to a tea party that is called "High Tea" or "Afternoon Tea" that serves a variety of foods to go with not only tea but also all kinds of other beverages too. The setting can be formal or casual as well. Tea parties are becoming more and more popular today to have in place of a regular birthday party, bridal party or baby shower. It may be best to check with the person who invited you as to how traditional the setting will be if it is not clear on the invitation.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Hosting a Bridal Shower Tea Party on a Budget

So you are hosting the bridal shower. You want to make it special, but you have a tight budget. Bridal showers are meant to pamper the bride-to-be before she begins her new life. One way to make her bridal shower special is to invite your guests to an afternoon tea party. The invitations should indicate that the party will be a tea party so that your guests will be prepared. Invite them to bring any fancy hats, long gloves or boas and their prettiest tea cup with them but also have an assortment for those that may not have brought their own. You could crown the bride-to-be with a tiara and treat her like a princess at the tea party.

Depending on your budget you could plan an elaborate party and have your wedding planner take care of all the arrangements. Or, for a more economical version, you could plan it yourself. You could pick up the hats, boas and tiara from the party store and possibly get gloves and hats from a local thrift store, or go glove-less. This is not only a great way to save some money but you are also giving back to the community at the same time. Use borrowed teapots or find ones at garage or estate sales. Involving your guests to bring items for the party can not only save on the decorations but also adds to the fun and excitement even before the party begins. For a special gift you could give a few of the prettiest tea cups to the bride-to-be as a gift. She will then have a nice keepsake and be able to reminisce about the fun each time she uses them.

Being on a budget doesn't mean you can't have elegant looking food. Serving buffet style you could have cucumber sandwiches that consist of thinly sliced bread with the crusts removed and cut into fourths with a cream cheese spread and cucumber on it. Have a large fruit and cheese tray, vegetable and dip, and a tray of bakery or homemade cookies and scones. Don't forget the tea but you could also offer other beverages such as iced tea, coffee, punch or wine.

Make a game out of keeping your pinkie out while you drink your tea while telling stories about love and marriage. Having a theme also helps break the ice for people that do not have a lot in common. Whether they are having fun or choosing not to participate, they will definitely have something to talk about.

Having a special occasion, such as a bridal shower, doesn't mean you have to spend a lot to make it very special and show the guest of honor that you care about her.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Afternoon Tea American Style

Afternoon tea American style has its roots in the past and is growing more popular in many places throughout the United States. New tea rooms are opening and offering afternoon tea and tea parties to customers every day. Tea parties are becoming popular for special occasions like bridal showers, birthday parties and baby showers. Along with tea rooms the planning of tea parties has become a cottage industry in itself.

Planning a tea party can be quite elaborate for formal occasions or more casual for everyday meetings and gatherings. For the more formal occasions you may hire a party planner to take care of all the tea party ideas. Or, you could order and send the invitations yourself and hold the tea party at a tea house or hire a caterer to take care of the decorations, table settings and refreshments.

For casual afternoon teas or tea parties like a weekly gathering of friends or a business meeting, the invitations may be sent by email or by calling everyone and letting them know when and where it will be held. Decorations may be as simple as a small candle or vase of flowers on the table. As far as what to serve at a tea party, you might consider homemade or store bought sandwiches, cookies or cakes.

There are many teas to choose from as well when planning an afternoon tea or tea party. Some of the more popular types of teas in the United States include green, black, white, earl grey, chamomile, oolong, mandarin orange, mint, mixed berry and other herbal teas. It's a good idea to have a variety of teas for your guests to select from.

Don't forget to use tea sets at your event! These should include tea cups and saucers, sugar bowls, cream pitchers, dessert plates and of course a great teapot or two. These pieces can be matching or you can use mismatched pieces to create an eclectic setting.

Afternoon tea in the America is a growing industry that has expanded the number of tea houses in the United States as well as created cottage industries like specialty party planners to organize the afternoon teas and tea parties. For your next gathering you might consider having a tea party or afternoon tea to make it a special event your guests will remember.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

My Small Collection of Teapots

Here it is, a slide show of my small collection of tea pots to share with teapot lovers everywhere!

Slide Show coming Soon!

I'm trying to add a slide show to this blog to keep the pictures of my teapots at the top. Stay tuned.