While it is still customary to serve regular tea with milk, sugar and lemon wedges, for a tea party, it is quite acceptable to serve flavoured, or herb teas as well as coffee or even iced tea. China teacups and saucers should be used - I have known people who have collected several different designs to create a chic eclectic feel to the table.
Although it is customary to set the table with all the cakes, china, utensils, etc., most people serve the tea party buffet-style, with the guests sitting comfortably in easy chairs.
In winter it is nice to serve tea on a large low coffee table and sit in front of a blazing fireplace. On such occasions, treats such as teacakes or English muffins can be toasted using a long handled fork. (a barbecue fork is ideal)
Keep slices of cake, and sandwiches small, to allow for ease of serving and eating; your guests shouldn't be trying to juggle slabs of cake and over-sized sandwiches on dainty tea plates! Be sure to have plenty of variety and enough of each treat so that nobody is left hungry, despite the small serving sizes.
Sandwiches are made from soft bread with the crusts cut off and can have any variety of fillings, such as cucumber (Peel, remove seeds and slice thinly. Salt lightly and drain after a few minutes before sandwiching between buttered white bread), smoked salmon, egg salad and so on.
Scones are an absolute must, and are served warm with butter, cream and strawberry or raspberry jam. Other cakes are entirely at the host's discretion, and can include sponge cake, fruit cake, petit fours, biscuits, or even a flan.
Pictured above: Cranberry Scones
These are a delicious variation on the classic English scones, listed below. Dried, sweetened cranberries are used, as fresh cranberries would be too bitter and would break down in baking.
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