We all have taken time for tea in the afternoon. Tea is a popular and relaxing break in the day that is cherished by the people around the world.
The term “tea”, however, refers to more than just a comforting hot mug of leaves with your feet up on the sofa. It also refers to an all-out event “steeped” in tradition and known as the tea party.
A tea party fundraiser is a great way to entertain and catch up with family and friends. After all, tea parties are centered on conversation and elegance. However, they can also be a great way to make money for a fundraising organization through tea sales—and maybe even expand your guest’s tastes for different types of tea leaves (and the finer things in life) as well.
Tea parties are not rushed affairs. A typical high afternoon English tea can last anywhere from one to three hours—or longer if you’re royalty. For an English tea, the host traditionally serves black caffeinated tea leaves accompanied by a small tray of snacks or desserts. The tea can be informally served out of mugs in a help-yourself style.
However, if you want to maintain tradition, tea should be served out of dainty fine bone china tea cups with a selection of elaborate desserts and sandwiches—and fancy food and an assortment of teas should, of course, be the highlight of a successful high afternoon tea.
What you’ll need to host an English tea party:
- Matching china—tea cups, saucers and dessert plates
- Tea pot
- Elegant napkins
- Silver cutlery
- Tea trays
- Creamer and sugar bowl, including all condiments
- Guests—make sure guests don’t exceed the number of matching tea cups
- An elegant dining room, sitting room or outdoor garden will do
- Flowers and décor to create an atmosphere of sophistication
Pick a nice spring afternoon if you are hosting your fundraising afternoon tea outside in the garden. Or find a facility that will cater to the group you expect. Smaller groups will suit a more intimate setting in your home, however, larger groups might need more space that a church or hall might accommodate better.
If you are inviting a large group of mostly community members and strangers, you’ll need to advertise your fundraiser for at least a month in advance using community bulletin boards, word of mouth, newspapers and social media (such as Facebook, Twitter and other online communities).
You can raise money for your fundraiser by selling tickets per individual attendance. Also, seek out donated supplies—such as desserts from a local bakery, sandwich meats and cheese from a local deli, and teas from a local grocer or specialty tea shop—in exchange for free publicity through sponsorship credit.
What to serve for English tea:
The tea party is traditionally situated around mid-morning or afternoon; therefore you’ll need to provide snacks or a light lunch. For a formal English tea, foods may include:
- Tea sandwiches—ham, cream cheese or cucumber on white bread with the crusts cut off
- Soup or salad
- Quiche or an omelet
- Tea biscuits—such as digestive, gingerbread or shortbread cookies
- Scones with jam, cream, marmalades and butter
- Cake, pie or tarts
- Pudding—such as a trifle or layered dessert of berries and cream
For a formal tea party, the central part of your menu should always be the tea and each food served should have a tea that compliments the taste, for example fruit salad with herbal fruit teas, shortbreads with dark teas, and etc.
Remember that tea pairs with and compliments food similar to wine. To help you get started, pair the following teas and foods for an afternoon tea event:
- Assam or earl gray tea with red meat sandwiches
- English breakfast tea with cucumber or biscuits
- Ceylon tea with raw vegetables
- Assam or oolong teas with milk and chocolate
- Green tea with cheeses and Asian foods
- Oolong or Darjeeling teas with chicken or eggs
- Yunnan tea with fruits and berries
- Chamomile tea with vanilla or cinnamon spice
- Mint tea with milk or dark chocolate
Hosts should remember to entertain with ease. The theme of the day is elegance and relaxation after all. To create an atmosphere of elegance, follow these final tips:
- Choose soothing music from a CD collection or splurge for a string quartet
- Set up tea tables a few hours before your guests will arrive
- Decorate with fresh flowers
- Make last minute food and prepare water for the tea then relax for a while
- Greet each guest as they arrive and show them to their seats
- Remember to have fun and enjoy some tea yourself!