There are many different types of tea party themes you can hostess. Some are just slight changes, some are complete cultural changes. What ever style you choose, make sure to have plenty of tea on hand!
In this site we intend to focus mostly on the traditional English-style afternoon tea, but would like to help you see that tea is enjoyed and is thought very highly of other countries. The English were actually some of the more recent cultures to use and benefit from tea.
All tea parties are a more formal affair unless otherwise noted on the invitation. A casual tea is more appropriate for a 'tea for two' or a garden party, but even then, the etiquette used remains the same.
Victorian High Tea
An afternoon tea party theme is different than high tea. When you hear of High Tea, you think of pomp and circumstance, but actually it only refers to a bigger, more substantial meal. The working class actually had high tea at the end of their long working day. It was eaten at a 'high' table - the normal dining room table. It is a meal which consists of foods more filling. So if you want to hostess a 'high tea', it will be more substantial and an actual sit down meal.
Victorian Afternoon Tea
The aristocracy had 'afternoon tea',which is a lighter meal consisting of mainly sandwiches, scones, biscuits(cookies), and of course tea. Afternoon tea is also called 'low tea' because it was usually taken in the parlor, library, or a sitting room, using low tables at the sides of chairs or sofas.
In the old days, Russians had tea at any time of day. During a break, at 'tea time'(like the English between 3&5), after meals, when visitors stopped by... A Samovar was a standard item in all households. It contains a smaller pot with a tea concentrate on top of a larger pot that heats the water. Samovars are still in use today, though not as widely as they were. A Russian Tea Room will usually have a beautiful large one centrally displayed. It is also of course electric instead of the antique coal burning ones.
A Russian Tea is very similar to an English Tea, with sandwiches, cookies, and other sweets, but with Russian styled foods on the menu.
Japanese Tea Ceremony
The Japanese Tea Ceremony (chanoyu) is one that takes a lot of training. Every movement and gesture has significance. Years of training are completed by a host or hostess of a tea ceremony not only in the art of making tea, but in art in general, poetry, cooking, gardening...
This tea party theme is very different from an English Tea.If you are interested in hosting a Japanese themed tea party, the extent of authenticity depends on how much research you do and how detailed you want to be. It can be truly authentic with bamboo mats, charcoal fire, powdered green tea, or just a relaxing atmosphere in which you can enhance the ambiance of oriental flare with oriental music and foods.