High tea originated in England when the time between lunch and dinner was too long, causing people to experience hunger pangs. A simple afternoon snack with tea has turned into a time-honoured tradition, that many cultures enjoy. High tea can offer simple fare or elaborate spreads. Many restaurants and fancy upscale hotels offer high teas. You can prepare a high tea in your home and your guests can sip tea, snack on goodies and enjoy relaxing and chatting.
Send out invitations for your afternoon high tea, whether you invite a few close friends or a large crowd. You can opt to purchase ready-made high tea invitations, or get creative with designs of your own. Start with some textured pastel paper and glue magazine pictures of ladies drinking tea or fancy teacups. Write the invitation with a calligraphy pen, or go the computer route and use a calligraphy font. Use pastel colour envelopes and seal the back with a decorative stamp. On the invitation, you might suggest dressing up for afternoon tea, and also inquiring if your guests have favourite tea flavours.
Setting a beautiful table makes this age-old tradition a festive affair -- whether indoors or outdoors. For a summer high tea, set your tables up outdoors under a patio or umbrellas. Put vases of fresh flowers on each table. Cover the table with a lace or linen table cloth and linen napkins, along with china cups and saucers Place a name card for each guest. Set up a buffet table with your goodies and tea -- served on china or silver platters. Classical music playing in the background makes for a relaxing and elegant afternoon tea.
Steep your tea in several porcelain teapots and always use cold, filtered water. You can steep your tea with tea leaves or tea bags. Offer a selection of green, black and white teas in a selection of flavours for your guests. For very hot day, serve a variety of iced teas. Put out sugar cubes, honey, along with artificial sweeteners for your diet conscious guests. Serve pitchers of cream and milk; include a plate of lemon slices and fresh mint. Keep your tea hot by adding a tea cosy on the top of the teapot.
If you are a champion baker, make some scones, muffins, lemon bars, assorted cookies and pastries. Be daring and try your hand at preparing an English Trifle. Set out a platter of small finger sandwiches. Cut the crusts off the bread, spread with butter; and make fillings of curry chicken salad, sliced turkey, watercress and carrot raisin. Have curls of butter, different flavour jams, jellies and lemon curd for scones and muffins. A bowl of fresh fruit cut up is a nice addition, especially during the summer. For something special, dip strawberries and bananas in chocolate sauce.
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