As a guest and a hostess, afternoon tea parties can be confusing sometimes. So, knowing what to expect or what to provide on your tea party menu is important. One of the great things about serving tea is that there is a lot of flexibility to work with. Keep in mind that the menus provided are traditional menus and can be adjusted for your preferences.
Low teas in Celtic countries, ie: England and Ireland, have a much more rigid menu mainly because they are so steeped (no pun intended!) in tradition and methods of doing things. If they are invited to a cream tea, they know exactly what to expect. It will be basically scones and tea. Each hostess MAY decide to serve something in addition to the scones, but much more than that and it would then be considered a light, or simply an afternoon tea.
For someone brought up taking tea every afternoon, it is a matter of habit ~ like someone in the US grabbing a Coke and chips or an apple for a mid-day break.
In the United States, things are more relaxed, so, because of this and the infrequency of tea parties, (in the US) it is also more confusing. It also doesn't help that tea rooms and tea houses imply that high tea is a fancy afternoon tea.
The atmosphere of a tea party is usually more important than getting the food perfect. Calm, relaxing music, low light, and lovely place settings help you to achieve just the right mood ~ even if all you offer are store bought goodies.
It truly is a time to relax, enjoy your friends, and gain some sustenance to get you through the rest of the day and does not need to be all about pomp and circumstance, although certain etiquette rules still apply to all teas.
Invited to a low or light tea, Victorian tea, or a cream tea? All are considered afternoon/low teas.
Want to plan a tea party but not sure what to put on your invitations?
We will set up menus for each so you will have an idea of what to expect as a guest, and if you are the hostess, you will have an idea of what you should include on your menu and/or invitations
The three main types of tea parties you can hostess are:
In addition to these, there is the high tea which causes some confusion as to what it exactly is! It is actually an evening meal served at the dinner table. Read more about a high tea and we will explain the difference of high tea and afternoon tea and why nowadays the terms are used almost interchangeably.