The other day, I was on a leading coffee and tea retailer’s web site, and I noticed they had a blog post titled, “How to Host the Perfect Tea Party.” They had some good suggestions on various menu items, like scones, biscotti, and tea sandwiches, and then they asked readers what they would serve at their perfect tea party. A few people wrote in, talking about what kinds of food they would serve, or who they would invite. However, no one mentioned tea! The picture that accompanied the post showed a lovely, bone China tea cup – with a tea bag hanging out of it!
Now, I completely understand the need for tea bags in certain situations, and there are quite a few good ones that are filled with whole-leaf tea. However, in my mind, there would never be a reason to have a tea party without brewing at least one pot of delicious loose-leaf tea! There are so many different combinations and menus you could create, depending on what type of tea you wanted to serve.
My first thought would be a Spring Tea, with some delicate first-flush Darjeeling tea. I would make some tea sandwiches – definitely cucumber, maybe some smoked salmon and cream cheese, and possibly also a light chicken salad, with grapes and water chestnuts for crunch. Going the traditional route, I’d then serve scones – perhaps some lemon-poppy seed, or cranberry-orange, to complement the fruitiness of the tea. Of course, there would have to be pastries, in particular, French macarons in beautiful spring colors and bright, fruity flavors, such as passion fruit.
All of this would naturally be served on floral-patterned bone China, with some wonderfully mismatched silver given to me by my Mom. I’d lay the table with a lacy cloth, and create some pretty floral arrangements to bring lots of cheer to the table. In the background, I’d play a little Brazilian samba music to make sure things didn’t get too stuffy!
As I pour out the pale, fruity Darjeeling tea, my friends would inhale the delicate aroma and sigh with delight. As they nibble on the snacks, they’d sip the delicious brew, and begin to relax and unwind as the tea’s calming spirit worked its magic. We’d have a wonderful afternoon welcoming the new season, while some would discover a new tea companion and others would welcome an old friend.
That would be my perfect tea party, at least for this week. I could imagine an Asian-themed party built around a nutty, warm oolong or a clean, grassy green tea. Or possibly a more substantial, winter party with a hearty Ceylon black. There are so many options, but they all begin with a lovely loose-leaf tea to share with my friends.