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Tea time etiquette

Hosting a tea party can be a fun-filled affair with these interesting table settings and decor ideas.

india Updated: Nov 13, 2010 02:34 IST
Zofeen Maqsood
Zofeen Maqsood
Hindustan Times

Sometimes having a cup of tea with friends after a hard day’s work can uplift your spirits. This season, when the sun mellows down, is just the right time to organise a cozy tea party for friends. Shamsul Wahid, executive sous chef, Smoke House grill says, “Originally an English tradition, a high tea party normally is a small indulgence post lunch or before dinner.”

A tea party may mean a posh Victorian decor. We we get you experts’ help to give you five basic ideas to organise your own tea party in a simple yet splendid fashion.

1 The centre piece: Since tea party is generally a smaller fare, the decor should also be minimalistic. Instead of statement decor pieces, go for an elegant floral arrangement. Lalita Raghav, GM, Ferns N Petals, says, “The rule to a tea party flower decoration is that it should be of low height. People are expected to be sitting and chatting. A low vase would ensure it doesn’t obstruct the view. A fish bowl to decorate flowers is a good idea."

2 Floral details: The flower arrangement can really make or break your tea party decor. So think beyond the usual roses. Raghav says, “Tea party is a day time affair, so flowers in pastel shades like peaches, yellow and white look more elegant.” She adds, “Flowers like Protia and Hydrangea are hot this season. One can also experiment with a single twig submerged tastefully in water.”

3 Decor-wise: The decorations for a tea party need to be subtle. It should send a relaxed vibe to the guests. If you have a garden in the house, it’s better to host a tea party there. Terraces and balconies too serve the purpose well. Having white or a rose pink as a dominant colour throughout the decor gives a classy feel to the party.

4 Cutlery chic: Bhavna Schroeder of Evinix silver says, “Your cutlery should reflect the mood of the party. If it is an English-theme tea party, then silver ware will look best. Also, don’t forget to add little things like a sugar tong, as it looks messy to use a dessert spoon for sugar cubes.” Another rule of table etiquette is that the cups and saucers shouldn’t touch the other cups. The guests should be able to pick their cups easily without a clinking sound.

5 Sip and snack: The most important part of a tea party is serving. For a tea party, a double spout tea pot is a good idea. Serve four different teas to choose from. You can add small glass cups with mint or lime verbena. Vishal Kumar, manager of Cocoa by Belgique says, “For a tea party, snacks like garlic potatoes, creamy feta in baguette sandwich and crostinis are perfect.’’

Chef Shamsul Wahid says, “The best accompaniments for tea are finger sandwiches and bite sized canapes, along with light pastries and cookies. The food should assist in building the conversation and create a break in it. So don’t aim for a proper meal, think of uncomplicated things. If you want, you can add pitchers of sangria’s along with tea and coffee.”

First Published: Nov 12, 2010 16:59 IST