If you want to throw a party Downton Abbey style, a tea party is the proper choice!
Gather the girls together and go for it, dress the part if you like, and enjoy an afternoon of tea and conversation. Below is a menu with recipes for a trio of tea sandwiches, and our Teacup Cakes dessert idea. All proper English fare! Plus, we have tons of tips for setting up your own ‘tea bar’. Go traditional with hot tea, or add a modern twist with iced teas and a tea cocktail! It’s all here for you below…
To make this even more special we are linking up with Andrea at the Great Thoughts Blog - she is in Week 6 of her series> Like Downton Abbey? More Books and Quotes to Enjoy!
Add an element of surprise to your Tea Party, brunch or luncheon with Teacup Cakes. Disguised as a cup of tea, guests will be thrilled with the sweet treat that awaits them in their teacup. Not only are the teacups exquisite, but the personal-sized cake prepared especially for each guest will make all feel as grand as the reseidents of Downton Abbey!
- 1 box cake mix (+ ingredients needed to prepare)
- 2 cans prepared frosting
- Food coloring
- Edible Flowers/Candied Flowers
- Vintage teacups or small old-fashioned looking teacups
- Wash teacups, dry and set aside.
- Preheat oven according to directions on box. Since you will not be using liners, it is very important to thoroughly grease 2 muffin pans.
- Prepare cake mix according to directions and pour batter into muffin tins almost to the top (fill 18 of the 24 cups with batter and fill the remaining empty 6 cups _ way with water). Make sure batter is spread evenly in cups to avoid lopsided cupcakes.
- Bake according to directions.
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes, remove cupcakes from tins and allow to thoroughly cool on wire racks.
- Since teacups vary in height and width, test your cupcakes for fit in your teacups before frosting. My vintage teacups perfectly fit the cupcakes so they sat just inside the rim of the teacup. Once I was sure of fit, I frosted cupcakes and then inserted in teacups and topped with a candied flower.
- Assembly Note: If you need to “build up” your cupcakes to sit in cup, simply cut a few cupcakes in half, horizontally, place cut half in cup and sit whole cupcake on top and frost. Using this method will yield fewer Teacup Cakes.
*Elizabeth’s Note: I did not bake the cupcakes directly in the teacups since they are not oven safe. These gorgeous vintage teacups are from my Great Aunt Anne’s collection.
We took the quintessential tea sandwich and “freshened it up” a bit. While these featured sandwiches are the perfect complement to a cup of tea, there’s also something here for everyone – your vegetarian friends, as well as the seafood and chicken fans. Arrange the sandwiches attractively on a tray or tiered platter and guests can help themselves at their leisure. You can also add scones and jam to the menu if you like. Oh, so Downton Abbey!
Cucumber Tea Sandwich
(Makes 60 open-faced finger sandwiches)
If you haven’t had a cucumber sandwich before, don’t prejudge it – the combination of textures and flavors are an unexpected delight.
- 1 loaf Pepperidge Farm Very Thin Sliced White Bread (we recommend this particular bread, other white breads tend to be gummy when used in this preparation – this was perfect)
- 4 large seedless cucumbers, peeled & very thinly sliced
- 8 oz. Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter (this butter is unlike any other we’ve tried and really adds flavor to this tea sandwich)
- Coarse sea salt/kosher salt & fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Allow butter to soften at room temperature. Wash and dry cucumbers. Using a vegetable peeler, peel and discard the outer layer of the cucumber. Then, peel thin slices of cucumber end to end. Lay each slice on a paper towel to absorb the moisture. Set aside.
- Spread one side of each slice of bread with a very thin layer of Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter. Slightly overlay cucumber slices horizontally across the bread. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cut the crusts off and slice diagonally making two triangle shaped sandwiches.
- If not serving immediately place in airtight container with a damp paper towel lightly covering top.
Smoked Salmon and Pumpernickle Tea Sandwiches
(Makes 40 Open Faced Finger Sandwiches)
- ½ cup fresh dill, chopped
- 1 – 3 oz. jar capers
- 2 – 12 oz. tubs Breakstone’s Temp Tee whipped cream cheese
- 40 slices pumpernickel cocktail bread (or a 45 slice loaf)
- 20 oz. thinly sliced and ready to eat smoked salmon
- Cut salmon into thin strips and set aside. Chop dill and mix with cream cheese. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly on each slice of bread. Arrange salmon in a criss-cross pattern over cream cheese and top with a few capers. Cut off crusts. Cover tightly in airtight container and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Chicken Salad Tea Sandwiches
(Makes 40 Sandwiches)
- 3 lbs. favorite chicken salad (if you don’t have a beloved chicken salad recipe, purchase it at your favorite deli/supermarket. Feel free to jazz it up with some diced nuts, chopped grapes, etc.)
- 80 slices rye cocktail bread (or 2 – 45 slice loaves)
- Spread finely chopped chicken salad on ½ of the slices of the bread, top with slice of bread, cut off crusts and slice diagonally in half. If not serving immediately place in airtight container with a damp paper towel lightly covering top.
Tips For Creating A Tea Bar
If you’re asking, “what is a Tea Bar?” think coffee bar, cocktail bar, beverage bar, etc. The goal is to create an eye-catching and practical space where guests can find everything they need to prepare a special tea beverage. A little dedication of time and effort spent to create a Tea Bar in your home will result in a fun focal point for your tea party. First, find a surface that is large enough for several guests to prepare their tea of choice at the same time – this will be the foundation of your Tea Bar. Now, it’s time to stock it with all the essentials for preparing a cup/glass of tea and some “extras” to make your guests feel special.
A Tea Bar can feature one or all of these 3 Tea Services:
1. Hot Tea – Offer an interesting selection of teas, including flavored varieties and at least one decaffeinated and one herbal selection. Prepare water in an electric kettle and keep a backup hot water supply in a pump carafe. Allow guests to hand select a tea and prepare their own cup. Offer lemon, honey, milk, cream and sugar on the side. Display a variety of teacups, saucers, spoons and a container to deposit used tea bags in and napkins alongside this tea service. To make our Tea Bar pop, we used Rock Sugar, Honey Dippers and a collection of vintage teacups and saucers
2. Iced Tea – Prepare a variety of iced teas before guests arrive and display in pitchers or beverage dispenser. Label iced tea options and make sure to include a caffeine-free option. Give guests the option of further cooling their tea by making ice readily available in an ice bucket – don’t forget the tongs.
3. Tea Cocktails – Prepare a Signature Tea Cocktail prior to guests’ arrival. Be a considerate host and also offer a non-alcoholic Tea Cocktail option. I love this unexpected addition to a Tea Bar – your guests will be delighted and intrigued by the notion of a Signature Tea Cocktail at a Tea Party. Here’s one we love> Royal-Tea Cocktail.
*Display a variety of glasses (highballs, rocks, goblets, wine, stemless wine) with iced teas, Signature Tea Cocktail and alternate beverage.
Tea Bar Tips:
- Choose a location that is easily accessible for your guests.
- Build in elbowroom, especially where dealing with hot water.
- Clearly label drinks, especially those containing alcohol and caffeine.
- Have some fun creating and personalizing your Tea Bar.
- If you have a guest of honor or guests you want to show the utmost respect and kindness to, prepare and serve their tea
You can chat along on Sundays, January 6- February 17, 2013, during the national broadcast of each episode on twitter using hashtag #DowntonPBS!