How to plan a Tea menu

How to plan a Tea menu
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The evolution of ceremony and social etiquette has not been without purpose, for without rules and regulations there would be no order. The rituals of ceremony and etiquette are not meant to be intimidating, overwhelming, nor pretentious. Quite the opposite. When one understands the rules, there are no misunderstandings, no insults, no one is left out, nor made to feel uncomfortable. When we are made to feel welcomed and appreciated, whether it is in the home, workplace, or a social setting, one will strive to achieve ones full potential and a good time will be had by all-and with good results.

I can think of no other arena throughout the ages that has been more empowering to women than the world of tea. Women, through tea, have influenced changes to fashion, politics, commerce, religion, trade and human rights.

Throughout past centuries, the pursuit of tea has been universal. From the early Chinese in 2737 B.C., to the early American settlers of New Amsterdam in the mid-1600s, to the present day, tea has been a welcome sign of hospitality. One would be pleased to discover the commonality we share with our international neighbors through our mutual love for the rituals that tea has to offer.

Afternoon tea may be presented in an informal or formal service, as tea for two, or a dance for five hundred. Gorham Lady Anne Tea Cup Whether the settling is in your home, a tearoom, Inn, restaurant or grand hotel, there are no limits as to how one can entertain with this wonderful format. Occasions of all kinds may be celebrated in this manner including weddings, engagements, birthdays, anniversaries, a new home, a new baby, picnics, holidays, office and theme parties. Tea can be as unique as your imagination will allow.

You can create menus of distinction by mixing your own combination of recipes. While following tradition is nice, do not be a tea snob. The occasion is enriched when you create your own customs. No matter what the size or theme of your tea, the important element of any tea party is careful planning. The first step is to decide the occasion and them of the party you intend to give. When sending your invitations (at least six weeks in advance) give a specific time your tea will begin and the type of dress requested. Unlike a cocktail party, if your guests have never attended a tea, they may be unfamiliar with protocol.

To be a great hostess is in itself an art. For as a well-dressed woman must have the taste to select those clothes which best match her personality and style, so must a hostess be able to plan a menu which best reflects her own individuality. Regardless of social or economic position, the word about a great hostess spreads as quickly as stories about the indiscretions of others. Whether it be a small town or a big city, invitations to a home or venue know for its entertaining and good food are eagerly awaited, because good food, a gracious hostess and interesting people go hand in hand.

Consider the group you have invited, the effect you hope to create for them and what impressions you wish to leave in their minds. Depending upon the season and weather, select your main dishes, sandwiches and savories accordingly. Choose the accessories, then complete the menu with compatible selections. Decide which teas will both complement and add drama to the occasion. Keep in mind the appropriateness of the foods you choose. Consider the occasion and the number of invited guests. The rule of thumb is the fewer the guests, the more elaborate the preparations due to nothing other than time and space.

Find a spot to add your own special touch. It may be a recipe for which you are known, a tasty sauce or a particular bread, but it is yours alone-something your guests will remember. No matter how important one is in his or her community, everyone likes to feel wanted. It is up to you-the hostess-to make everyone feel welcome and at ease.

Delicious food appeals to all senses. The table is your stage to set and you Are the producer.


TASTE: No two dishes in one setting should taste the same. Invite the differences between sweet, sour, salty, crisp and smooth.

SIGHT: Food colors must be as carefully selected as those for a painting. Be an artist. Study each dish before you complete it and add a dash of color to make it prettier. Set a beautiful table. Bringing in color can be as simple as filling a ring mold with edible flowers, herbs and ice. Turned out, you have a wonderful containers to hold fresh berries and also keep them cold.

SMELL: Do not forget the memory provoking sense of smell. The aromas of food are filled with nostalgia-melted pure chocolate, fresh baked scones, the sweetness of strawberries, the pungent smell of cinnamon and vanilla. Add a fresh floral bouquet or a potpourri and memories are created.

SOUND: Hearing is important for taste and enhancement. Listen to your guests, put them at ease and draw them into conversation. Never have the music as the focus of any party, unless it is a concert. Music should blend into the background. Incredible as it may seem, the louder the room, the less one can taste.

TOUCH: Great food can be served on paper plates, but the feel of a silver knife and fork, the cool handle of a china cup and the softness of a freshly laundered linen napkin will add to your guestsÂ’ enjoyment. Table settings can be of exquisite beauty with antique porcelains, dramatic in the brilliance of modern design or combinations of the old and new can be equally exciting.

Follow natureÂ’s lead. Desires are often conditional or aroused by weather. Some of this is mental, some nostalgic and part is physical. Cold weather welcomes hot, heartier and spicier foods. The body wants to be warmed. While on a lipid summer day, cooling, light and airy foods will be preferred. Keep your eye on the markets for early seasonal foods, for served in their natural season heightens their flavors.

Before serving anything to guests, it is best to have practiced everything first. King Louis XV of France, a royal gourmet said “The art of cooking cannot be learned out of a book, anymore than the art of swimming or painting. The best teacher is practice-the best guide, sentiment.”

Excellence is always attainable. It comes from having heart, taste and knowledge. Remember, no matter what goes wrong at your party, smile! As Michelangelo once said” Trifles make perfection and perfection is no trifle!”

The beauty of tea is that TEA IS A LUXURY EVERYONE CAN AFFORD!( TM)

More of Ellen's Articles:

Planning a Tea Menu

FAQ About Afternoon Tea

A Spring Tea Menu

Tea and Silver

Tea at the Holidays

Understanding Tea Time Service

The Afternoon Tea Gown

The History of Chocolate

A Summer Rose Tea

Etiquette Faux Pas


About The Author

Ellen Easton, author of TEA TRAVELS(TM), TEA PARTIES and Good $ense For $uccess(TM) published by RED WAGON PRESS, 45 East 89th Street, Suite 20A, NYC, NY 10128-1256: (212) 722-7981, is a consultant and designer of related products, to the hotel, food service, special event and retail industries. She is also available for speaking engagements. Please contact her for more information.

Ellen Easton, the author, does not endorse any outside advertisements that may appear on this site.

No copyrighted materials may be reproduced in any other format, now known or unknown, without prior written permission by Ellen Easton/ RED WAGON PRESS. All copyrights and trademarks remain the sole property of Ellen Easton/ RED WAGON PRESS with all rights reserved. (212) 722-7981


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