Saturday, January 31, 2009

Tea With Miss Janice, Post #15

I honestly love teaching children and adults Social and Dining Etiquette and the Art of the Afternoon Tea. In today's world, I believe manners matter more than ever.

Hopefully, you are now ready to host an afternoon tea or to be a gracious guest. Maybe you are interested in one day teaching tea and etiquette--so I'm providing just a few websites that might be helpful if you would like to purchase tea magazines or tea books. I've also included various websites to find tea accoutrements and programs available to train to become a Tea or Etiquette Consultant.

Dorothea Johnson, maven of protocol, etiquette, and manners, was one my teachers when I studied etiquette for children. She is the founder of the Protocol School of Washington. Dorothea no longer owns the school, but you may visit her website here. If you are interested in teaching corporate etiquette, The Protocol School of Washington is the place for you. If you are interested in teaching etiquette to children or adults, try these: Emily Post, Academy of Etiquette, or Etiquette Leadership (These ladies are graduates of the Protocol School of Washington and are awesome!). If you are interested in becoming a Tea Consultant, visit Tea and Etiquette, The Elmwood Inn, The Tea Academy, or Tea U.S.A.

Are you looking for tea publications? Try The Tea House Times, Tea Mag, and Tea Time Magazine.

The only two books about tea etiquette that I love are "Tea and Etiquette" and "Children's Tea and Etiquette," both by Dorothea Johnson. You can order these books from the sidebar of my blog under "Miss Janice Recommends."

These three websites are great guides to tearooms around the country. If you are taking a trip or just looking for a tearoom near your home, visit Tea Map, Tea Guide, or Great Tearooms of America.

Finally here are some websites for tea enthusiasts to browse:

I hope that you have learned a lot about the world's second most popular beverage! I will leave you with a photo of my mother-in-law and myself having tea. Bless her heart...she's looking directly into the teacup...just like I taught her!

"There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea."

Henry James

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tea With Miss Janice, Post #13

As promised, here is a list of tea etiquette faux pas you don't want to commit (in no specific order, cuz they are all important):

~Dunking your teabag, it's tacky!

~Blowing into your teacup--practice patience.

~Placing a used teabag on the saucer--makes such a mess!

~Drinking tea while wearing gloves--nevah evah!

~Slurping your tea--please don't do this.

~Leaving lipstick prints on the serviette/teacup--this is gross! Use a tissue to blot your lips before you sit down for tea.

~Extending your pinkie finger while holding the teacup--it's considered an affectation and you'll end up looking like a mafia character!

~Pouring milk in first--it's poured in last!

~Draining a teabag by winding the string over the bag around the spoon--why would you even do this?

~Using lemon wedges instead of slices--the slices are much more dainty, don't you think?

~Taking big bites of food--"I is told ya and told ya that you can always tell a lady by the way she eats in front of folks like a bird, and I ain't aimin' for you like a field hand and gobble like a hog"! Mammy, from Gone With the Wind

~Using cream in your tea...use only milk please!

~Sipping from the teaspoon--this is just silly.

~Putting the whole tea sandwich in your mouth...again, very field-handish lookin'.

~Putting jam/butter/lemon curd, cream directly on your scones (place small dallops on your tea plate and then spread).

~Placing your teaspoon, iced teaspoon, or spreader on the table after you have used them--flatware is never returned to the table after it has been used.

~Placing your serviette on the table before you are finished--this is a sure sign to others that you don't know a cotton pickin' thing about dining etiquette!

~Eating while talking--do I even have to bring this up?

~Chewing your food with your mouth open--ditto.

~Reaching across others--nevah evah!

~Licking your fingers--y'all please don't do this!

~Placing your elbows on the table--four-year old students of Miss Janice's programs know better than this!

~Slouching while eating--every Southern lady knows that her back should never touch the back-side of the chair...she sits up straight!

~Asking for seconds before being offered--didn't y'all pay attention to Mammy when she spoke in Gone With the Wind? "Don't act like a field hand," please!

~Washing your food down with tea--chew your food, then take sips of tea.

~Calling iced tea "ice tea," we Southerners know this already--it's iced tea y'all!

~Calling Afternoon Tea "High Tea," it's my posts this month!

~Burning candles at Afternoon Tea without drawing the curtains--I'll admit this was a tea etiquette rule new to me until I studied about the etiquette of the Afternoon Tea.

~Cradling the teacup in one's fingers when it has a handle--are you guilty?

~Swirling the liquid around in the cup as if it were wine in a glass--what's the point?

~Lifting only the teacup when the saucer is 12 inches away from you. Remember that the teacup and saucer are married, just like the salt and pepper shaker. They should always be together.

~Leaving a teaspoon upright in a teacup--a spill waiting to happen.

~Putting scone halves back together like a sandwich after slicing and spreading on the jam and cream--Lord have mercy, don't do this!

~Using a serviette as handkerchief. Now, I know all you ladies would nevah evah do anything like this!

~Removing food from your teeth during teatime--enough said!

~Touching your face or head during teatime.

~Looking over instead of into the cup of tea. This is true with any beverage you are sipping!

~Failing to write a thank-you note to the hostess.

I am planning to participate in "Tablescape Tuesday" and will feature an Afternoon Tea tablescape. I hope that you will stop by then. I know that Susan, our wonderful hostess for "Tablescape Tuesday" is thinking about switching it to Thursday. So, I will feature my tea tablescape either on Tuesday or Thursday! See y'all then!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tea With Miss Janice, Post #12

It's the little things that you do at the dining table that reveal so much about your manners.
~Miss Janice

Handling the iced tea glass, the teacup, the teaspoon, the tea strainer, the teabag, the sugar tongs, and the sweetener packets...What do you put in the teacup first--the tea or the milk? When is the lemon slice added? What about the sugar cubes? Remember, Afternoon Tea is a ritual, complete with a set of etiquette rules.

Handling the Iced Tea Glass
If iced tea is served, there is proper etiquette to observe. Properly served, iced tea is served in a tall goblet with a doily and a saucer (or a bread plate) and an iced teaspoon. The iced teaspoon would be placed on the outer right of the place setting at an angle. If the spoon is used to stir your tea after adding sugar, the teaspoon is either placed on an iced teaspoon rest provided or placed on the saucer. If there is no saucer provided, the spoon should remain in the glass at all times. Oh yes! It is actually quite easy to drink your tea and hold the teaspoon in the glass. Press your index finger against the iced teaspoon, while holding the goblet, and sip your tea! If you practice this, those around you will surely think you are the most proper person ever! Why?...because you handle it with such grace. Remember that once used, a utensil is NEVER placed back on the table.

Handling the Teacup
When handling the teacup, place the index finger through the handle, with the thumb placed on the top of the handle to support the grip, and the second finger below the handle for added security. The next two fingers naturally follow the curve of the other fingers. It is considered an affection to raise the pinkie finger while sipping your tea. No matter how many cute photos you see on the internet of little girls sipping tea with a raised pinkie...don't commit this tea etiquette faux pas--you'll end up looking like a mafia character!

Remember that if you need to hold the saucer, rest the saucer comfortably on your open left hand and steady the saucer with your thumb resting on the rim. Don't forget to look into the teacup when sipping your tea...not around the room!

Handling the Teaspoon
If hot tea is served, remember to softly fold the liquid when adding sugar or milk and then place the teaspoon on the saucer behind the handle. Here's a tip from Miss Janice: When displaying teacups, always place the handle at 4 o'clock and the place the teaspoon behind the handle. I worked in the China Department at Dillard's Department Store and walked around all day long obsessively positioning the handles of every teacup and mug to the 4 o'clock position! Y'all, these things will be noticed!

Handling the Tea Strainer
When loose tea is placed directly into the teapot to steep, you will need to use a tea strainer as you pour the tea into a teacup. Depending on the type of strainer, you will place it over the teacup or set it on the teacup and pour the tea through it.

Handling the Teabag
If you are served hot water and a teabag, allow the teabag to steep in the water for approximately five minutes (or the strength you prefer). Do not dunk the teabag or wrap the string around your teaspoon to drain it. Place the used teabag and wrappers on a separate saucer.

Handling the Sugar Tongs
If sugar tongs are used for cubed sugar, remember that the tongs should never touch your tea and are placed by the sugar bowl or draped over the handle of the sugar bowl.

Handling the Sweetener Packet
Use the packets provided and tuck the empty packet discreetly under the edge of the saucer.

What Goes in the Teacup First?
The tea is always poured in first, then add the sugar or honey, a lemon slice, and milk (not cream). You shouldn't use milk and lemon together because the acid from the lemon will curdle the milk.

Tea and dining faux pas are up next! You don't want to miss these...people do talk y'all!

Remember, manners really do matter!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tea With Miss Janice, Post #11

Afternoon tea is a ritual with strict etiquette rules. Proper table manners help to make a positive impression, show respect for yourself and others, and make you feel confident and proud. If your table manners are graceful, people sitting at your table will notice and their perception of you will be very favorable. Today I would like to give you some information about tablesettings in general, but before I begin, I will briefly explain the American Style of Dining vs the Continental Style of Dining:

In the American Style of Dining, the food is anchored with the fork, tines down in the left hand and cut with the knife in the right hand. The knife is then placed on the upper right hand side of the plate, with the cutting edge of the knife facing the center of the plate. The fork is switched to the right hand and the food is conveyed to the mouth with the fork, tines up. This is the style of dining most Americans are familiar with.

A "silent signal" to the Waitstaff, "I am resting." (American Style)

A "silent signal" to the Waitstaff, "I am finished." (American Style)

In the Continental Style of Dining, the food is anchored with the fork, tines down, in the left hand and cut with the knife in the right hand. The food is conveyed to the mouth with the fork, tines down down, in the left hand, while the knife is still held in the right hand.

A "silent signal" to the Waitstaff, "I am resting." (Continental Style)

A "silent signal" to the Waitstaff, "I am finished." (Continental Style)

Let's take a look at some table setting displays:

This is the proper tablesetting for Afternoon Tea
Tea food may be served all at once or placed on a three-tiered tray. On the tiered tray, the savories are on the bottom, scones in the middle, and sweets on the top tray. They are eaten in that order, savories first, scones second, and sweets last. It is considered correct to eat an open-face sandwich with a knife and fork, but you must pick up a closed sandwich. Remember to use the three-finger rule when picking up food with the fingers.

There are several ways to properly eat a scone. But here is the one I find most comfortable. Place a scone onto your tea plate. Also, spoon small dallops of the lemon curd, preserves, and clotted cream, if desired. Break off a bite-size piece of the scone with your fingers. Using your tea knife, dab only the piece you will put into your mouth with jam/curd and clotted cream. Please do not slice the scone in half, smear preserves, curd, or cream and take a bite--that is an etiquette faux pas at tea! Remember to follow the same etiquette when eating bread; tear off only the piece you will put into your mouth, then butter that piece.

You might also be served soup at an afternoon tea as a first course. There is of course proper etiquette to follow when eating soup.

At an informal meal you may serve soup in a soup plate ontop of an underplate and provide an oval soup spoon. You will spoon the soup away from you and place the soup spoon on the underplate between sips or when finished.

Informal soup plate and oval soup spoon presentation

Resting and finished position--soup plateAt a formal dinner, soup must be served in a soup bowl with an underplate and a round/cream soup spoon provided. Again place the soup spoon on the underunderplate between sips or when finished.

Formal soup bowl presentation with cream soup spoon

Resting and finished position--soup bowl
This is a tablesetting for a Luncheon or an Informal DinnerThis is the proper tablesetting for a Formal Dinner

A formal dinner is a gracious and elegant event and has strict protocol. No matter how high-fallutin' or fancy your dinner party is, it's not a formal dinner unless you follow the proper protocol! A minimum of four courses are served. The charger plate is placed on the table first. Hospitality dictates that the space before the guests (called the cover) must always hold a plate; charger plates (also called service plates) are laid on the table before guests enter the dining room. The soup and fish appetizer plates may be served on top of the charger, but the charger is removed before the entree is served. The cover should only be empty after "crumbing the table" and before dessert is served.

At a formal dinner, there will be individual place cards.
When opened, the place card will contain the menu, the name of the host/hostess, the venue, and the date of the event.I will help you to navigate the formal table setting in the photo above (Formal Dinner). The dinner plate is obviously placed in the center of the cover and on top of that is a linen napkin folded with the folded edge facing right. This is where the napkin should be placed at a formal meal. To begin, bread may be served (but not at all formal events). You will know that you are being served a fruit cocktail/shrimp cocktail for your first course, because of the dainty little cocktail fork which is placed at an angle on top of the bowl of the cream soup spoon. Yes, as your second course you are having a cream soup, which contains sherry--how do I know this? There's a sherry goblet there. Never serve sherry unless you are serving a sherried-based soup. Your third course will be some type of fish appetizer--see the fish fork, it's the one on the far left and the fish knife is just left of the the cream soup spoon. You will be served white wine with this course. Your fourth course will be the entree--let's just say beef tenderloin, green beans, and potatoes (you will see the dinner fork, second from the left of the plate, and the dinner knife, second from the right of the plate). Red wine will be poured with the entree. Your fifth course will be some type of salad--the salad fork is just left of the dinner plate and the salad knife is just to the right of the dinner plate. There will be no wine served with the salad--sorry!--the acid in the wine doesn't pair well with salad dressings. At this time the table is cleared and crumbed. All the goblets will been taken away except the water and champagne goblets. The bread plate, salt cellar and pepper shaker are also removed. It's time for the sixth and final course--dessert and champagne! Dessert may be served two different ways:

The dessert fork and dessert spoon above your dinner plates indicates that you will be served a dessert ala mode...let's say pie and ice cream. Your would take the dessert fork and place it to the left of the dessert plate served to you and the dessert spoon would be placed to the right of the plate.

Dessert fork and spoonReady for the dessert

The fork is held in the left hand and used to cut the pie and to help place it onto the spoon with the ice cream. Then, you would eat with the spoon. Eat from the front of the spoon. Or...

You might be served a finger bowl with the dessert plate. Again, place the dessert fork to the left of the plate and the dessert spoon to the right of the plate. Remove the finger bowl with the doily and place it to the upper left hand side of your cover. The dessert will then be served. After the dessert course has been removed, use both hands to pick up the finger bowl and doily in one gesture. Place the finger bowl and doily in front of you and dip only your fingertips, one hand at a time, into the bowl--then dry them on your napkin.

The goblets used in this table setting: From left to right--The water goblet, then angled behind and slightly to the right of the water goblet is the champagne goblet, then the red wine goblet, the white wine goblet, and the sherry goblet.

A salt cellar with a tiny spoon and pepper shaker will be at each setting.

If you have been following my tea posts during the month, I believe you are almost ready to host a wonderful Afternoon Tea or be the "Most Gracious and Well-Mannered Guest Ever." I only have a few topics left to discuss with you...The proper way to drink iced tea and hot tea, some tea faux pas you don't want to commit, and what to do when the tea is over. On Tuesday I will take part in Tablescape Tuesday and present a Formal Afternoon Tea Display. Thank you for stopping by today!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tea With Miss Janice, Post #10

At the Tea Table
~Taking Your Seat
Each guest will stand behind the chair at their place setting and enter their chair from the right-hand side of the chair, after the hostess has been seated.
~Saying Grace
When you are a guest in someone's home, be prepared for the custom of Grace before the meal. If you don't practice this custom, simply sit quietly out of respect to the hostess. Grace is usually said by the hostess or a guest may be asked to say Grace.
Grace is usually said after everyone is seated and before anything is touched on the table. Don't pick up your serviette/napkin or take a sip of water until Grace is said.
~Serviette Etiquette
The napkin should be placed on top of the plate, unless food is on the plate when the guests arrive at the table; then, the napkin should be placed to the left of the fork. The napkin should be folded with the closed edge to the right and the open edge to the left or placed in a napkin ring. At tea time, serviettes are used. The serviette is a tea napkin, 12" square. It is picked up and unfolded on the lap, not above the table, only after the hostess places her serviette on her lap. A tea serviette is opened completely. Proper etiquette dictates that you blot your lipstick with a tissue before using any cloth napkin at the table. When using a serviette, blot your lips and don't use the serviette as a handkerchief. If you leave the table temporarily, place your serviette on your chair, not on the table. At the end of the tea, the hostess will pick up her serviette and place it loosely on the table, to the left of the tea plate. You will then place your serviette loosely to the left of your tea plate.
~Will you be "Mother?"
Being "Mother" goes back to the Queen Victoria era when mothers traditionally poured the tea for family and guests. It is considered an honor to be "Mother." The pourer should have sterling social graces and no one should pour for more than 15-20 minutes. The pourer or "Mother" will hold the teacup and saucer in her left hand and ask each guest, "Do you prefer your tea weak or strong?" If weak tea is preferred, pour the teacup about one-half full, add the hot water and then ask, "With sugar, lemon, or milk?" If strong tea is preferred, pour the teacup three-fourths full, and then ask, "With sugar, lemon, or milk?" You will only place a teaspoon on the saucer if the guest request sugar/milk. Remember that you don't want to use lemon and milk together as the acid from the lemon will curdle the milk. Also, please remember to use milk instead of cream. If the guest request sugar, ask "One lump or two?" Should you add the milk first or last? The milk should be added after the tea has been poured. Just remember that the Queen of England adds her milk last.
Tea is never passed around the table; the pourer should hand the tea directly to the guest. And, it is more polite to ask guests if they would like tea, rather than asking if they would like MORE tea.
Tomorrow, I will address the styles of dining--American and Continental. Please stop by again!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tea With Miss Janice, Post #9

It's Tea Time! The day of your event has arrived. Let's begin right at the front door with a little guest and hostess etiquette!

When you arrive at someone's home, ring the bell and stand back. When your hostess opens the door, wait to be invited inside. First, remove your gloves as soon as you step inside. It has never been correct to eat or drink with gloved hands.

Hat and gloves are okay to wear to tea...remember to remove those gloves as soon as you enter the home or pick up that teacup!

Little girls at gloves not raise that pinkie finger either!!!

You may wear a hat to tea, but the hostess never wears a hat.Greet your hostess, but don't monopolize her. Mingle with other guests.

If you are given a name badge to wear, remember that it goes on your right shoulder. Oh yes, it does! Most employers require that employees wear name badges on the left shoulder, but this is incorrect...Etiquette dictates the badges be placed on the right shoulder! The reason for this is that when we shake hands, our eye automatically goes in that direction.

Name badges placed on the right shoulder...

What is the proper way to introduce yourself to others?
~Stand up--You should always stand up when being introduced or introducing yourself. It is considered rude to remain seated during an introduction.

~Smile--First impressions are everything!

~Make Eye contact--Are you uncomfortable looking directly at someone's eye's or just not sure which eye to look at??? Don't look up into the air, down at the floor, or around the room. Make eye contact! I teach children about a "safety zone." This is the area where they should look, just above the nose and between the eyebrows. If you ever see photos of children from my etiquette programs, you will notice they have a happy-face sticker on this safety zone--to remind them where to look!

Making eye contact...looking at the "Safety Zone"

~Shake Hands--Shaking hands is a universal form of greeting someone. It's very easy and important to learn how to give a proper handshake. Step out onto your right foot, extend your right hand (thumb up and remaining part of your hand flat). Grip the hand of the person you are greeting, making sure that the webs of both of your hands connect. Pump your hand firmly a couple of times. Don't shake with a limp hand and don't shake someone's hand too hard...just a nice firm grip. Remember, only the Queen of England is allowed to shake hands while wearing gloves!

~Introduce yourself--Say, "Hello, my name is Janice Gibson." It is your duty to introduce yourself at any function, large or small, if no one introduces you. Remember that when you are introducing others, the first name spoken is that of the older or more distinguished person; i.e., "Mrs. Smith (older lady), I would like to introduce to you Mr. Roberts." "Mr. Roberts (older gentleman), I would like to introduce to you my daughter Mary. If you really want to be ever-so proper, remember to say "introduce to you not introduce you to."

Young girls practicing introductions...

After all the guests have arrived, you may be asked to go through a Receiving Line/Reception line. What is the difference between a Reception Line and a Receiving Line? A Reception Line is formed at an event (wedding, afternoon tea, formal dinner, etc.) and may consist of the Bride/Groom/Parents or Host/Hostess/Guest of Honor. The Reception line most likely will include an Introducer who will introduce all the guests in the Receiving Line, guests waiting to meet and greet the people in the Reception Line.

~The guests should smile, make eye contact, introduce themselves (if there is no introducer), and shake hands with the host/hostess/guest of honor.

~Do not shake hands with the introducer.

~Never carry a beverage in your hand when you go through a receiving line.

~Remember that a parent goes before a child, to set the example.

~A lady precedes a gentleman, except at the White House or a military function.

A Reception Line at Afternoon Tea...
I'm so glad that you joined me again today. Tomorrow, I will be talking about "Beginning the Tea...taking your seat, saying Grace, serviette etiquette, and the proper etiquette of pouring tea. I hope that you will stop by again! Have a tea-lite-ful day!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tea With Miss Janice, Post #8

When you are planning a tea event, it's important to decide the style of tea service you will host. For 1-4 friends, tea may be served in the parlor. A formal, seated tea at the dining room table is an elegant way to serve afternoon tea for up to ten guests. A buffet-style tea would be the best way to serve tea for a large crowd.

Tea in the Parlor

Tea may be served in the parlor/living room with guests sitting on a sofa and the coffee table or tea table used to hold the tea tray and tea accoutrements. The hostess would pour the tea, asking each guest, "How would you like your tea?" If the guest replies "Weak," the hostess would pour the teacup 1/2 full of tea, then add hot water and sugar/honey, lemon, or milk, if requested. The hostess would then serve the guests tea food on tea plates along with a serviette and flatware. A teaspoon is placed on the saucer only if sugar or milk is requested. The serviette is opened fully and placed on the leg area just above the knees and the tea plate would rest on the serviette. Remember that the teacup and saucer should be held in the palm of the left hand and they are never more than 12" apart. Between tasting the dainty tea food and sipping the tea, relax and make pleasant conversation.

Tea in the Parlor--sometimes called "Low Tea" (served from the coffee table)

Tea in the Parlor

Formal Seated Tea at the Dining Room Table

If you are planning a seated tea at the dining room table, the hostess would sit at the head of the table and the guest of honor would be seated to the right of the hostess. All guests should stand behind their chair until the guest of honor has been seated. Enter your chair from the right side of the chair. After you are seated, the hostess might say Grace and then place her serviette on her lap. At that time, you would place your serviette on your lap.

A sideboard may be used to hold the teapots and other tea accoutrements. The hostess pours the tea for each guest and serves them individually from the right-hand side of the guest. (Teacups and saucers are never passed around the table). After all the guests have been served tea, the hostess serves herself and the tea begins.

Each guest is responsible for serving themselves the tea food from the three-tiered tea trays. Tea food is placed on the tray in a certain order, starting on the bottom with the savories, then the scones, and the sweets would be placed on the top tray. The tea foods are then eaten in that order: savories, scones, and sweets.

Formal Seated Tea at the Dining Room Table

Buffet-Style Tea

If you are planning an afternoon tea for a large crowd, it's best to prepare the hot water in an electric urn and then pour the water into teapots containing the loose tea/tea sachets, when needed. The table should be set up to accommodate two services; coffee service and a pourer at one end and tea service and a pourer at the other end. The coffee service consists of a coffee pot, a sugar bowl with sugar cubes and sugar tongs, and a creamer with cream. The tea service consists of a teapot, a pot of hot water, a sugar bowl with sugar cubes and sugar tongs, and a creamer with milk. Small crystal bowls and tiny teaspoons are needed for the preserves, curd, and clotted cream. You will also need a small plate for the thinly sliced lemons along with a lemon fork. The teacups, saucers, and teaspoons should be placed near the tea service and the coffee service. The table should be covered with a white table cloth and a fresh floral arrangement. Candles may be used only if the draperies are drawn shut. Guests may proceed through a receiving line and enter the serving area for tea. Tea plates, knives, forks, and tea serviettes are placed on the table and guests serve themselves the tea food that has been placed on silver platters, buffet-style. Then, each guest will receive their tea or coffee from the pourers and proceed into another room to be seated. It is perfectly proper to place a few dainty tea foods on the side of the saucer if you need to stand during the tea.

Buffet-Style Tea

I hope you are learning new things about Afternoon Tea and are feeling more comfortable about hosting a tea event. Please join me again tomorrow--I will discuss the proper etiquette of introductions, name badges, hats and gloves at tea, and receiving line etiquette.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tea With Miss Janice, Post #7

Hello, and thank you for visiting with me today. This month, I have been blogging all about tea to celebrate National Hot Tea Month. Today I will address some steps to take when preparing for a tea event.

After your invitations have been mailed, you should begin to prepare for the day of your event. Will you be hosting a tea in your parlor for 1-4 guests, or maybe a formal, seated tea at the dining room table for 3-7 guests? If you are planning a large event in your home, a buffet-style tea would be the best way to serve tea.

Whatever choice you make, remember that the tea food may and should be prepared in advance. Don't feel like you need to serve only homemade tea foods. Purchasing scones and sweets from a bakery will save you a lot of time and you will feel less stress when your guests arrive. For an afternoon tea, you should serve savories, scones, and sweets. These foods may be placed on a tiered tray at a seated tea, with the savories on the bottom, the scones on the middle tray, and the sweets on the top tray. If you are having a buffet-style tea, you may use tiered trays, silver trays, or other beautiful trays that you may have to hold the tea foods. For tea in the parlor, any type of appropriate teaware may be used.

Depending on the size of your guest list, you may use teapots for a small group or you might use a tea urn for a large group. To serve loose, steeped tea to a small group of guests, first, heat the teapot with hot water. Then pour out that water into a waste bowl and place one teaspoon per cup of loose tea into the pot, adding "one for the pot." Allow the tea to steep. Place a tea strainer over the teacup. Ask your guest, "Would you like tea? ...Would you like your tea weak or strong?" If the guest prefers weak tea, pour only a half cup of the steeped tea into the cup, then add hot water to the tea, no more than 3/4 cup full. Now you would ask, "Would you like sugar, lemon/milk?" If the guest requests sugar, ask, "One lump or two?" (Always use sugar cubes at teatime). Cream is never served with tea, as it is too rich for the delicate tea flavor, so if guests request milk, remember that the milk always goes in last, and ask "A spot or a dash?" Gently stir the tea with a teaspoon and then place the teaspoon behind the handle of the teacup.

To serve tea to a large group of guests using an electric urn (coffee maker), clean the urn with vinegar and fill it with cold water. Allow three cups of tea per guests. A 50-cup urn will need 25 teabags. Put in the center post and basket, place the teabags into the basket, and turn the urn on. Leave the teabags in the basket until you need to steep more tea; then remove the used teabags and add more cold water and teabags. Pour the steeped tea into the teacups. If you are using an urn to just heat the water, place three teabags inside each five-six cup teapot and pour the water from the urn into the teapots to steep the tea.

Before your guests arrive, your table should be set and ready, with all the tea accoutrements available. A tablecloth should always be used to cover the table at afternoon tea. Centerpieces should be kept at a low height for a seated tea, but may be dramatic for a buffet-style tea. Remember to practice proper candle etiquette and draw the draperies shut when you burn candles at afternoon tea.

Thank you again for stopping by today; tomorrow I will explain the service used at each type of tea: A formal seated tea, a buffet-style tea, and a tea in the parlor.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Tea With Miss Janice, Post #6

If you have been following my tea posts during this month, by now you should be a bit more knowledgeable about tea.

When planning your tea event, the first thing you need to decide is what type of tea you want to host--tea in the parlor for 1-3 friends, tea at the dining table for 3-7 friends, or a buffet-style tea for a larger group. Then you will need to choose a date and time, figure out how much you want to spend, and write up the guest list. Today, I will address the invitations.

An invitation to Afternoon Tea--who wouldn't love to receive a lovely invitation to afternoon tea in the mail? When planning your next tea--whether it's a tea in your parlor for a few friends or tea served from a formal tea table for a large group of friends--remember that a beautiful invitation will set the tone for your event.
Monogrammed notes, formal letter sheets, correspondence cards, and informals are all appropriate to use as tea invitations. You may also want to create your own invitations by choosing stationery that will complement the theme of your event and match the formality of the occasion. These may be engraved or you can print them on your computer at home. Whatever style of invitation you choose, be sure to include all the necessary information that your guests will need to know:
Name of hostess
Name of honoree
Afternoon Tea
Day and Date
"R.s.v.p." (as it is properly written) on the left side and "Attire" on the right side of the invitation.
~Invitations should be mailed two weeks in advance and longer for a formal event.
~Invitations should be phrased in the third person.
~Punctuation is not used at the end of the lines.
~Do not abbreviate anything except "Mr.", "Mrs.", "Sr.", or "Dr.".
~It is not proper etiquette to mention gifts or donations to a charity on an invitation.
To be perfectly proper, you would reply to a formal invitation by handwriting your reply on a formal letter. You may reply to an informal invitation by using informals, message cards, monogrammed notes, or calling cards. For a very casual event, your reply may be given by telephone. Never e-mail your reply to an invitation.
If you do not R.s.v.p., you are committing a huge etiquette faux pas and will surely be taken off the hostess' party list!
Thank you for visiting with me today and please stop by tomorrow--I will address steps you might take to prepare for your tea event.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tea With Miss Janice, Post #5

Today I am featuring photos of "Tea Accoutrements," items needed to host a tea event--tea for one or a large group of guests. Let's take a look at what you might need...

Tea service, with a coffee pot or hot water pot, teapot, sugar bowl with tongs, a waste bowl (also called a slop bowl--oh yes it is!) for the tea dregs, and a creamer for the milk.

Sugar cubes are used at tea and may also be placed in a sugar scuttle, or you may use those tiny packets of artificial sweetener and place them in a sugar caddy.
If you are steeping loose tea in a teapot, use a tea strainer when pouring the tea into the teacup. Then carefully place the strainer back on to it's base cup.
A tea sachet is placed into the teacup, hot water added, steeped, and then placed on the tea sachet caddy
After the tea has steeped, it is proper to place the sachet onto the caddy.

A teabag is placed into the teacup, hot water added, steeped, and then placed onto the teabag caddy.
After the tea has steeped, it is proper to place the teabag onto the caddy.

Your tea in the pot may be kept warm using a teapot warmer.
Or, you may use a teapot trivit and...
Cover the teapot with a quilted tea cozy to keep the tea hot.
If you want to serve toast, place the toasted bread in a pretty toast rack. Use a pretty crystal serving piece for your jam, clotted cream, and lemon curd. Do you like honey with your tea? This pretty little crystal honey server is just perfect for an afternoon tea!

A silver muffineer is great to use if you like to add powered sugar to those yummy scones.

Make sure you use tea serviettes at tea--they are 12-inch square cloth napkins. In this photo I placed the serviettes in a teapot-motif napkin ring. You may use a small plate (dessert/salad) or any size you want. You will need a dessert fork and a luncheon/tea fork. Of course, you need and teacup and saucer and teaspoon. I always like to place a doiley underneath the teacup--just in case--even proper Southern ladies spill tea sometime!

You might also prefer to use a butter spreader at tea--shown in the front of the setting.
Here's the tea food tray which will contain all the goodies..use doilies on each plate and provide a pastry server for each plate. The savories will be placed on the bottom, the scones in the middle, and the sweets on the top plate. The foods are eaten in that order: savories, scones, and sweets.
If you will be serving iced tea, place your goblet on a doiley and provide iced teaspoons and rests. You may also place your iced tea goblet on a saucer with the doiley.
Here are two little silver pieces that are very nice to have at tea. A mote spoon is used to stir the tea beverage in the pot during the steeping process. It also has a pointed end, which may be used to unclog tea leaves in the tea spout. The dainty little fork is a lemon fork and used to serve the sliced lemons at your tea.

Perhaps you haven't had a tea party because you feel you don't have the proper place, tea accoutrements, or skills to host a tea party. That shouldn't stop you. Remember, it's your hospitality and how special you make someone feel that will leave a lasting impression, not your surroundings, china, etc. It is the ritual of sharing that is important!
Thank you for stopping by today. I hope you are learning some new information about tea that you did not know. I will be posting about Tea & Etiquette--from the invitations to the thank-you notes, in next few posts. Please stop by!