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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Do You Need Some Summer Inspiration?

Take a break

 

 

Maybe you’re already able to easily transport yourself to the relish the gifts of summer. I’m sure someone somewhere has already said that summer is a state of mind. If I had to only rely on my childhood memories of summer, I would remember 7am swim practices at the local pool, eating dozens of plums off my friend’s backyard tree while lounging more by her pool and talking about our latest crushes, and practicing my writing on (insert deep sigh here) an electric typewriter.

But as I get older, I find myself relying more on summer talismans: anything whose presence exercises a remarkable or powerful influence on human feelings or actions. These include:

  • a pair of colorful flip-flops with painted toenails.
  • popsicles to offer any child that walks through the door.
  • a basket of reading and writing materials by my deck chair to go with my glass of iced tea.
  • Susan Branch’s The Summer Book.

Have you discovered Susan Branch yet? I spent time with her work today and it truly inspired me to create works of art in my summer meals. Not over the top, buy 14 new ingredients and still not have it look like the picture recipes, but recipes and inspirations filled with little touches to make them special. Here’s a copy of my favorite. And in case you didn’t know, Susan Branch illustrates every one of her recipe pages, including the text. Blogging format hardly does it justice.

Fisher Farm Picnic Squash Salad

8 cups very thinly sliced squash, any kind (yellow crookneck and green zucchini=pretty!)

2 cups Paul Newman’s salad dressing

20 fresh nasturtium blossoms

2 Tablespoons fresh herb of choice (optional)

Put the squash into a large bowl. Bring salad dressing to near boil ~ pour over squash, toss lightly & then chill. Before serving toss again ~ pour off extra dressing. Toss again with fresh herbs & top with fresh nasturtiums.

Yes, nasturtiums are edible if you haven’t watered them with Miracle Grow. On the recipe page, she encircles the text with a nasturtium vine wreath and includes a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, “Earth laughs in flowers.” I find myself emotionally responding to these darling and simple beauties.

How about you? What are your summer childhood memories? Have you been able to hang on to the specialness of summer as you’ve grown? What simple summer delights do you treasure? Please leave a comment and let us know.