Afternoon tea is a practice that simply calls for socializing. A nicely set table with charming porcelain teacups on saucers, a steaming pot of tea and stacks of deserts, is not complete without a lively chatter of your dear friends. The intricate tea-drinking culture in Asia also revolves around hospitality and social interactions. Really, a tea party is one of the most enjoyable and elegant parties you can organize. It doesn’t require much planning and effort, but if you really want to amaze your guests, read on to learn the secrets behind a perfect tea tasting party.

It’s tea time

Every afternoon tea is a very special occasion, so it is important to set the right mood. Think about the setting. Would you like your party to be indoors or outdoors? If it´s springtime, don’t be afraid to break the rules of a conventional tea party, and feel free to throw a casual picnic or a buffet style party in your garden. If it’s indoors, the decoration is even more important. Lots of fresh flowers, your best china pieces, silverware, and nice linen are a must. Do you want a mid-afternoon or a late afternoon tea party? It’s best if your guests arrive just after lunch at 2pm, or dinner, around 7pm. If you’re organizing a traditional afternoon tea, schedule it somewhere between 3 and 5pm. The main appeal of this party is enjoyable conversation, so pick light music, and have a couple of board games ready (check out our list of tea-themed board games!).

Tea & scones

You should plan nourishment and tea for about 6-7 people, as this is the perfect number to accommodate for a tea tasting, which you will manage to serve timely and properly. When it comes to tea, you want to offer a wide variety of flavours, strengths and textures. Decide how you want to present your tea, loose in whole leaves or broken, or teabags, and maybe in arranged synergies of black teas like Darjeeling or Assam, contrasted varieties of Chinese and Japanese white and green teas, and full-bodied blends, like Earl Grey and English Breakfast. It is best if you have a couple of teapots ready, and be careful to prepare each tea properly. Each tea requires different brewing times and water temperatures.

You don’t want your guests to get full from tea only. You’ll want to serve shortbread, scones and other desserts that they can easily eat in one or two bites. Other finger food includes tea sandwiches, biscuits, petit fours, delicious cupcakes and, of course, cake! If by now, you’re thinking that this is too much complicated work for a tea tasting party that you also want to enjoy, it is always a good idea to hire professional party planning services, that can handle the task and add a touch of that gentry elegance. Prepare fresh lemonade or coffee for those few guests who don’t drink tea. Don’t forget a large jug of water with mint leaves, a little milk jug, sugar cubes or honey, and lemon slices.

Etiquette

Everyone knows that a traditional tea tasting party requires a fancy dress. However, you can decide on this and let your guests know about the dress code. If you´re a guest, fancy dress does not necessarily mean a tie-and-suit scenario, but you should put some effort in. The ladies can opt for a nice summer floral dress and wide-brimmed hats. When you’re tasting teas, it is best to go from light to darker ones. Also, as difficult as it may look, try not to over-stuff yourself with the delicious snacks. If you´re the host of the tea party, try to provide nourishment which goes well with the different teas. Set the table with a nice tablecloth and serviettes, and lay out the cutlery properly. You want everything to look and taste perfect. A tea tasting party should be just that.