A Victorian tea party is an excuse to dust off all that china and silver that you haven't used for years. Your best lace tablecloth can come out of storage, and because your tea party guests will likely be women, you're also free to make those exotic finger foods that men loathe -- crackers with caviar, petits fours, homemade cheese straws -- and, of course, tea.
A tea party should logically have tea. If you have a silver tea service, it's a nice touch, as are china cups and saucers. Your china and crystal don't necessarily have to match; thrift store finds can be charming in a mix-and-match table setting. You might choose to make iced tea or punch ahead of time in a pitcher or bowl, or serve exotic tea bags on a sideboard next to your service. Warm spiced tea is a nice touch for the winter months, and iced peach or raspberry tea is refreshing during the summer.
Sandwiches and Salad
Tiny crustless sandwiches, made with watercress, cucumber, pimento cheese spread or chicken salad, are dainty titbits appropriate for a tea. A mini turkey roll or small pita sandwich are possible alternatives. If you serve salad, incorporate raisins, cranberries, strawberries, pecans or mandarin oranges to keep the taste delicate. Raspberry vinaigrette makes a nice light dressing.
Homemade cheddar cheese straws, fruit dipped in dressing, chocolate or fondue, or crackers topped with sour cream and caviar, smoked salmon or cheese spread make nice hors d'oeuvres. Because the food at a Victorian tea shouldn't be too heavy, these light refreshments are appropriate as appetizers, and are pretty served on paper doilies or antique china plates.
If you choose to serve sweets, you might place an edible fruit sculpture in the centre of your table or sideboard, or go with petits fours, chocolate candies or pralines. You can order miniature cheesecakes or pies at some bakeries, or go with doughnuts, cookies or a dish of candied pecans.
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