Sunday, April 14, 2013

Throwing a Casual Tea Party, Part 2 of 3: High Tea

  Welcome back for part two of how to throw a tea party. Today I will discuss how to host high tea. Many Americans associate high tea with something very fancy and regal; however, in other countries it's thought of as meat tea, or simply: dinner. 

  High tea can certainly be a fancy occasion, and it's a great way to host a dinner party without worrying about multiple courses or serving your guests. High tea is essentially an early dinner. It is named high tea because of the height of the table at which it takes place. Afternoon tea, or low tea, is taken in lounge chairs with short tables next to them to hold your tea and plate. High tea is eaten at the dinner table, and consists of heartier foods than afternoon tea.

  I only had to set my table for two, which works out well since we have a tiny space saving Ikea dining room table. Traditionally high tea would be served at a table covered with a white or white lace table cloth. The cloth didn't look quite right on my small square table, so instead I folded it to make a runner. I placed our plates on either side, the food and condiments right down the middle, and a teapot on each side of the table for my guest and myself.

  As always you want to serve a variety of sugars and a type of milk, here I used 1%. For sugar we had raw turbinado sugar, white sugar cubes, and lemon honey sticks. Using honey sticks with lemon already in them eliminated the need to slice lemons for the tea, but feel free to do so because the color is truly lovely. I also offered a tea ball with two types of tea in case my guest wanted an individual cup. I was also sure to have softened butter and strawberry jam on the table for our scones. 

  The food choices were extremely hearty, I believe we consumed over 1,000 calories each! Talk about a cheat day! I served chicken salad on croissants, cucumber sandwiches, wedding cookies, lemon pound cake, cranberry orange scones, and split pea and ham soup (not pictured).

  I really enjoyed my spectacular view! There was so much color, and I especially enjoyed using my beautiful floral bone china. A great way to fill space and add pops of color is by adding a vase of fresh flowers and stacked teacups. I created height by using teapot warmers. Not only are they pretty to look at, but they keep your tea piping hot for hours! They are perfect for an evening of great conversation with a close friend.

  The beauty of high tea is simply that it is an elegant way to enjoy dinner, and cleanup is a breeze! I only needed one cutting board to prepare the sandwiches, as well as a bowl for the chicken salad. A tiered tray can hold all of the finger foods, so your guests will only need one plate. We used large 8 oz teacups as bowls for our soup. I didn't picture the soup because, well, split pea soup looks like yucky baby food. Although it's delicious, it doesn't photograph that well.

  You can see in the background I also offered pink sparkling moscato, and sparkling cucumber water. We didn't drink the wine, which was for the best given our insane calorie count for this meal. Next time I enjoy high tea I intend to offer a lighter soup, salad, sandwiches, and only one sweet (probably homemade scones). If you are interested in the food, be sure to check back for the third and final post! I will go into greater detail about the food, and include some basic tried and true recipes. I hope you give high tea a shot next time you host a dinner party!

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