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.


Susan @ A Southern Daydreamer said...

Great teas... I think I like the parlor tea best!

Suzann said...

I must tell you that I am really enjoying this information. So much to take in and think about.

~CC Catherine said...

Janice, I'm so "excited" that I found your blog via checking out another site for Metamorphosis Monday,you were on her blog list. I have Get Acquainted teas for both young and "mature" ladies of all ages, 3+up, in my neighborhood often. I started them 10 years ago when I moved to the South. I read many tea books for etiquette. recipes, and ideas...but now I can also come to your blog! This is Exciting! Stop over and visit my blog at where I share both my teacup collection and the stories behind them and also some decorating shares with some special featured Tablescape Tuesday posts. I hope we become good friends Janice! ~CC Catherine

CMB said...

Thanks for sharing all this I will be thinking of a reason to host a tea party!

Bo said...

Hi Miss Janice...your blog is always so informative & the photos are a delight! Thanks, ;-) Bo

Unknown said...

Miss Janice you have such great info. Maybe I will call my sewing room a "Parlour". mishelle

Pug1 said...

My favorite is the formal tea! You have an informative blog, I luv it! CHEERS! Michele

PS. Keep up the good work, it's much appreciated!

Confessions of a Plate Addict said...

Hi Miss Janice...Tea in the parlor for me! Does the living room count? ...Debbie

Glenda said...

Thank you for being so complete in all your information. This is a wonderful series of posts.

LillyB said...

Thank you so much for the education on tea and the parties!! I enjoy your blog so much!

sweet tea in a pink glass said...

Makes me want to have a tea party...maybe Valentine's weekend!

the voice of melody said...

You make me want to have a tea party! Thank your for such useful information and the beautiful pictures. Very inspiring!

A Hint of Home said...

Beautiful tables. Looks like everyone had an enjoyable time.
How is your friend doing?

Juanita said...

i want to thank you for all the info. The ladies of our church are wanting to have a tea party for mothers day. I am passing your blog along to my pastors wife!Thanks again and have a blessed day!

Carol said...

Thanks so much for stopping by today for a visit! I enjoyed your post today. I hate to admit it, but I've never attended a tea. This gives me an idea that I should have a tea soon! Thanks for the inspiration!

Lady Katherine said...

Thank you for sharing, I have enjoyed reading your articles on tea and etiquette. I love to have tea with my guest in my parlor. I did not know tea on the coffee table was called low tea.

Unknown said...

Well! That all seems perfectly logical! People always think etiquette is just old traditions... It really is just about making those around us feel comfortable.


PS Did I tell you I love your blog?:)

Jess said...

Wonderful tips!