Thursday, May 5, 2011

High Time for Tea

I know you are all teetering on the edge of your seat to see yet another tablescape from essentially the same party.  I think we have finally come to the end of the Royal Wedding shenanigans and shindigs. It’s been a long, but thoroughly enjoyable road.

On Sunday afternoon, post wedding, 10 ladies squeezed in to my dinning room for a Royal High Tea  and Post-Wedding Reception that benefited the Royal couple in no way whatsoever.

Now, before we go any further, I want to make something clear for you. Many of you many know this already, but just in case, I want to explain the difference between “Afternoon Tea” and “High Tea”.

Most people I’ve come across are under the impression that “high tea” must be some uppity sort of affair enjoyed by the darlings of society. The term “high” is not a reference to class, but rather to how the meal is served. High Tea is served at a higher, dining type table where an “afternoon” (or “low”) Tea is more likely to be served in your sitting or living room at a low table. The Afternoon Tea menu differs slightly with flavors that are mild – no strong onion or garlic flavors. Dainty, crust-less sandwiches could be served at either, but High Tea was often seen as the working mans tea – a heartier meal in the evening of breads, cheeses, meats and eggs and other items dragged out of the pantry.

Now that you’re completely enlightened beyond your interest – on to the party…

First we assembled for a quick picture on the front steps in all our finery. That’s me in the middle in my fabulous black hat. Not everyone shares my opinion on that… Lisa (to my right) was voted to have the “best hat” with her brown fascinator. It was renamed a “distractor” and we liked that name better. Laura (front right) was voted “best dressed” and Sharra, (front left) was voted “my horrid hat” which was probably a mistake since it appears she was wearing a lampshade…

DSCN0556We were fortunate  that Sharra is a professional photographer and took this fabulous group photo for us.

I decided to serve buffet style – much like they do in other fine tea rooms.
The menu: Berries and Curd, Chicken Salad on Croissants, Baby Bella and Spinach Quiche, Field Greens Salad with Vidalia Onion Vinaigrette or Blush Wine Vinaigrette dressing, Cheese DSCN0559and Olive Spears, and Scones with Honey Orange Butter, Lemon Curd and Mock Devonshire Cream. Dessert was Chocolate Mousse in Belgian Chocolate Cups, Chocolate Covered Strawberries, Lemon Cake Petit Fours, and Wedding Cake. I also served sparkling cider and a variety of black and herbal teas.

Something happened to the chocolate when I put the strawberries in the fridge to set them quicker. It’s always better to let them set up at room temperature. I don’t care for the dull look on them.

We squished ourselves into my dining room at two different but similar tables. One was dressed with a handmade lace cover made DSCN0563by my great Aunt’s Mother. I received it after my Grandma’s passing about 11 years ago.
The second cloth was passed to me by my Mom – it has been in the family for years and had been used at my parents’ wedding reception. It’s made of Irish Linen and is a delicate beauty.


I prefer a mix of eclectic china and silver. I find it far more interesting to look at. Each place setting is a work of art in its own right. I’ve been collecting china and silver since about 1995 and there are a few pieces that are worth a little bit of money, some that are worth nothing, but most all of them I have simply because I liked them.
Here’s the Wedding Cake (our “final” dessert”). It’s not exactly as I envisioned it, but it turned out okay. My fondant is a bit wrinkled and didn’t intend to pipe the buttercream icing so it wasn’t as smooth as it should have been, but I needed something to cover the holes on top made by my unnecessary dowels in the top layer. Next tiDSCN0569me I’ll know better.
Putting it on my great-Gramma’s antique cake stand makes all the difference.

After we ate we quickly un-set one of the tables so we could get the Irish Linen tablecloth into the wash to soak… Thankfully the cup of tea came right out and I don’t have to disown my friend. The Laura & Shellysame friend that almost immediately after sitting down toppled her goblet of berries. Some people you just can’t take anywhere no matter how fabulous her hat is.

We had a quick Royal Wedding Quiz which the majority of ladies in the room bombed. The big winner got 5 out of the 10 questions correct. It was pitiful… Or I may be slightly obsessed and write ridiculous quizzes. Nah… That’s not it.

Right after the quiz we had a wedding gift exchange. My goodness… You’ve never witnessed such thievery and conniving… I had several Ladies on couchlovely gifts in my possession for a short while – seems someone always stole them though.The hot ticket items seemed to be towels. I suppose after 20-some years of marriage we could all use some new bath towels…

Finally we settled in to watch the Wedding together. We had a great time sharing anecdotes and information we’d gleaned over the past several weeks. When we finished the first viewing, (yes… the first…) we had a little “leftover” snack (a bit of a “low tea”) and went back for more wedding insights and highlights. A couple of the girls looked as if they might be staying for the night.In for the long haul
It was jolly good fun and my only regret is not being able to have more friends join me. I keep trying to convince my husband that we need to remodel the house so I can have bigger parties…
The china is all put away now and life is returning to normal. Until the next Royal Wedding or any other excuse for a party comes up…

You can view the party I had for my daughter’s friends by clicking here.


  1. What a wonderful table and a great post!! Your table is beautiful and I think you did a wonderful job explaining high tea v. low tea. But I wish you had posted your quiz!!!!

    Again...such a charming post!

  2. For you, Tess. The "Quiz" :0)

    Royal Wedding Quiz

    1. What do the Royal Couples usually do with the top of their wedding cake? Bonus: What is the traditional flavor for Royal Wedding cakes?

    2. What is the hometown of princess-in-waiting, Catherine Middleton?

    3. How many people were sent invitations heralding the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton?

    4. The bridal bouquet will contain a sprig of myrtle to symbolize lasting love and fertility. Who started this royal wedding tradition?

    5. What was the length of Lady Diana Spencer's train at her June 1981 wedding and what is the significance of this number?

    6. Queen Victoria also set the trend for white wedding dresses when she married Albert in 1840. What was the most popular color for royal brides previous to this?

    7. In 1840, Queen Victoria bucked tradition by replacing the royal bridal gown color of silver with white. Name the two colors most popular for all bridal gowns previous to this.

    8. Royal brides customarily wear a veil on their wedding day but Catherine Middleton will have a choice as to whether her veil covers her face or not as she proceeds up the aisle. What is the precedence behind this?

    9. The marriage tiara is carefully chosen. When Queen Elizabeth II was being dressed for her marriage to Prince Phillip her chosen diamond tiara broke in two and another had to be fetched from the “storeroom”. What is the name of the stunning diamond and pearl drop tiara that Princess Diana was given as a wedding gift from her mother in law?

    10. For whom was the Lover's Knot tiara originally made in 1913, and who made it?

  3. Very nice blog, Sara! (As was the party.)

    Thanks SO much for putting the picture of Laura and me alongside the story of the friend who spilled tea on your antique Irish linen. Just for the record, it wasn't one of us, it was that sweet friend, the lady-in-waiting one....

    I had a smashing time!!

  4. It was a great time...spilled tea and all. I am so glad it came out and now it can just be a fun memory with no visible reminders. Lisa~

  5. Your party looks wonderful! I too had a Royal Wedding party. Come see the photos.

    I'd love to have you link with my weekly meme Seasonal Sundays.

    - The Tablescaper

  6. What beautiful tables you set for your tea. I like the idea of mixed up china patterns. It does add interest to the setting.

    You all looked so fabulous. What a fun time I'm sure everyone had.


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