Planning A Seasonal Tea Party

christmas-theme

Celebrating the seasons with tea is a natural way to transition from one cycle to the next. Teas were traditionally available as the seasons changed, and honoring the natural growth cycle of tea plants is a fun way to share seasonal teas with friends and family. It is also a great way to sample teas that you or your guests may not be familiar with. It is now possible to grow all types of teas year-round, and as such, many people fall into a “tea rut.” Using the seasons to mix up your teas may lead to your next favorite blend.

As the seasons change, there’s no better reason to host a tea party! Teas are enjoyable year-round, and you’ll find yourself with all sorts of reasons to host a tea party. One such example is to share the wonders of the different types of teas that lend themselves to each season. Light, fruity teas are perfect for the summer, while heartier teas are a great comfort in winter.

Activities

Hosting a seasonal tea party can incorporate any of the season’s traditional activities, or it can be anything else you want it to be! Guests may enjoy brewing their own, experimenting with different preparation methods, or learning about teas from around the world for each season. Incorporate different tea traditions for the teas you are serving. Alternatively, consider celebrating a seasonal element, such as a solstice or holiday.

Decorations

How you decorate for your party will depend on the season and if you are a focusing on a particular theme. Should you celebrate the change of seasons or a solstice party, focus on decorations that represent the upcoming season. As spring moves into summer, for example, a wide array of wildflowers may be available. Choose bright, cheery colors and lightweight table settings and linens. If you are in the midst of winter, deeper colors are more appropriate, as well as heavier table settings, such as hearty mugs or heavy glasses. Consider all aspects of your decor when planning your party.

Use decorations from nature. Pinecones are great in winter, flowers in spring and summer, and wheat or other harvest items in the fall. Incorporate colors of each season, using pastels in spring, bright colors in fall, browns and oranges in fall, and deep colors in winter.

Music

Music selections for your parties can vary greatly. Consider “The Four Seasons” for fun! There are also a number of other seasonal music compilations or selections based on a particular season, such as George Winston’s CDs. A trip to your local music store or a quick online search can lead you to a number of seasonal music selections.

 

Invitation Ideas

Choose invitations based on the time of year. Coordinate your colors and consider making your own invitations using specialty papers that represent your theme. Commercial invitations may work just as well, however, so there’s no need to rule them out if you’re not keen on the idea of creating your own. You may find that the perfect seasonal invitation already exists.

Foods

What should you serve at a seasonal tea party? Rely on natural foods that are available during the time of year and work those into your offerings as much as possible. Obviously, this may be easier during some months than others, but it provides a good starting place. Use a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, and create complimentary main dishes or appetizers. There are a number of cookbooks available that focus on seasonal foods and these can be a good reference source if you’re stuck for ideas. An online search may also be useful.

 

Teas

During the winter and cooler months, hearty teas like Yunnan, Assam or Keemun warm the palate and the body.  You can even pick from this years crop by going to  www.TeaSource.com.

A refreshing green tea like Mountain Spring Jasmine is perfect for summer months, or perhaps a fruit filled herbal such as Wild Berries and Blossoms, which offers an excellent cup of iced pleasure. Both of these teas are available from www.MightyLeaf.com.

 

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Tea with Agatha Christie

Agatha-Chrstie

In a small theater in London’s West End, I discovered Agatha Christie.  Her mystery play “The Mousetrap” has been running continually since it opened 1952.   It’s surprise ending reminds the audience that a great writer can always surprise you.   When the curtain closed.. I was officially a die hard Agatha Christie fan.

The last 13 years my life has been devoted to all things tea.   I quickly discovered that not only was Ms. Christie an avid tea drinker but she often wrote about it in her books. (she wrote 80 stories and plays in all!)

Here is a fun quote from “And Then There Were None

 

“Will you pour out tea, Miss Brent?’ The el­der wom­an replied: ‘No, you do it, dear. That tea-​pot is so heavy. And I have lost two skeins of my grey knitting-​wool. So an­noy­ing.’ Ve­ra moved to the tea-​ta­ble. There was a cheer­ful rat­tle and clink of chi­na. Nor­mal­ity returned. Tea! Blessed or­di­nary everyday af­ter­noon tea! Philip Lom­bard made a cheery re­mark. Blore re­spond­ed. Dr. Arm­strong told a hu­mor­ous sto­ry. Mr. Jus­tice War­grave, who or­di­nar­ily hat­ed tea, sipped ap­prov­ing­ly.

 

Agatha Christie actually wrote a short story entitled “A Pot Of Tea” starring her young detectives Tommy and Tuppence in her collection “Partners in Crime.”

 

If hosting your own Agatha Christie tea party consider the following suggestions:

 

#1 The 1957 version of “Witness for the Prosecution” is fantastic.  Gather your friends around the flat screen,  sip tea and drink in the mystery.  This play had a surprise ending that is sure to start avid discussions amongst your guests.

#2 Serve a hearty English Afternoon blend like Albert Square Blend from http://TeaSource.com

#3 Make classic English scones as described in detail at the Joy of Baking.com  Follow this link for a video and written instructions.  http://joyofbaking.com/scones.html

#4 Before the end of the film, ask your guests to write out “who done it” and drop it in a hat.  Read the conclusions aloud, watch the end of the film and allow time to discuss.

An Agatha Christie tea party can be memorable without being complicated.

 

Need a great favor?  Consider buying inexpensive paperbacks of some of Christie’s finest mysteries.  These are often available on Amazon.com

 

Have you read these Tea Party Girl articles?

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Tea Party Girl Asks: What’s Your Favorite Agatha Christie Book?

 

 

 

 

 

Hosting a 1950s Inspired Tea Party

tea1949

Flash back to the golden age of T.V. and radio by offering guests of any age a 1950′s tea party.

 

A 1950′s theme will easily lend itself to creativity, but needn’t cost a lot or take a great deal of preparation.  To help set the tone, encourage guests to dress accordingly.

If you plan to host a variety of themed tea parties, you may want to visit the local thrift shop or antique store for clothing. This way, guests who are so inclined can throw on a sweater or change into some bowling shoes. If you’re able to provide some costuming, your guests will have no reason not to attend.

 

Activities

Depending on the amount of room available and where the party is held, there are a number of 1950s inspired activities to choose from. With minimal space, you can let guests play with hula-hoops or lip sync to 1950s music classics.

You can watch classic “I Love Lucy” episodes or listen to classic radio comedies available from ww.Radiospirits.com Alternatively, set the tone of a drive-in movie using cardboard cutouts of movie stars and have speakers set at each table.  Active your imagination and the sky is the limit.

Tea tasting will be, of course, a primary activity. Black teas were most common during the 1950s, so consider offering a variety of these teas. Offer unique blends of black teas that your guests may not be familiar with. But be sure to serve an herbal option those wishing to avoid caffeine.

You can have a lot of fun with the origins of teas. Until the Korean War, the U.S. imported most of its black tea from India. During and after the war, Argentina became as primary source. Offer your guests a wide range of black teas from around the world. They may be surprised at the selection!

 

Decorations

Decorations can be done quite easily as well. For example, you can create a “sock hop” theme with a few lights and a “jukebox.”

Add some posters of 1950s icons and you’re good to go! With a few low-cost decorations, you can create a theme for any inspiration from the period, such as bowling balls and bins decorating the sides of the room, toy cars from the time, or even a “homey” feel giving the room a “Leave it to Beaver” flair.

Many party stores have cutout figures of jukeboxes and 1950s icons, which can be fun to place around the party and are affordable. You can also use any of the 1950s inspired clothing and shoes as decoration. Simple “home” decorations can also be included, as the 1950s Americana focused on family values. Depending on your budget, you may be able to pick-up some great 1950s furniture at thrift stores or flea markets.

 

Music

There is a lot of wonderful music to choose from! A 1950s compilation may be the simplest, but other suggestions include Elvis Presley, Connie Francis, Mary Wells, Patsy Cline, the Supremes, Debbie Reynolds, Bill Haley and the Comets, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry…the list goes on! The activities of your party will influence music selections. If you’re hosting dance hop, then some of the popular “pop” songs of the day are good choices. If you’re using music for background, then anything from the 1950s will work.

 

Invitation Ideas

With “retro” a hot theme these days, it is possible to find invitations that have some type of 1950s reference, whether it is a sock-hop theme, jukebox, or poodle skirt. These can be a fun way to get people’s attention and are affordable.  (personally I love Zazzle.com for invitations!)

 

Foods

Think Betty Crocker and soda fountains! Many of the primary foods served in the 1950s were traditional meat and potato style meals. Barbecue was also big.

These foods may be a bit heavy for a tea party, so consider using scaled-down appetizers. If you don’t want to make a big fuss, consider the sweet route; many candies that were popular in the 1950s can be found today, such as wax lips, Necco wafers, licorice snaps, and bubble gum.

Also, think about ways to get creative when serving teas, such as using tall sundae dishes or mugs. While Chai teas were not the custom of the time, they can make a great presentation in a sundae dish.

 

Creativity is the key to any successful tea party and a 1950′s theme is just the same.  Take these ideas and run with them, let your imagination go wild and be sure to email me with your 1950s fun.