The mother of a friend of mine recently moved to Seattle and lives less than a mile from my house. I thought it would be nice to welcome her to Seattle and the neighborhood. A couple of weeks ago they came over for an afternoon tea. We lucked out with the weather. It was absolutely gorgeous so we had tea out on the deck, surrounded by a few recently planted (like the day before!) flower pots. The fragrance of lilac surrounded us, while poppies and a few rhododendrons added splashes of color to the backdrop.
A “formal” tea is really one of the easiest ways to entertain. If your menu is part savory and part sweet – like any good tea should be – you’ll find you can make the sweets a day or two ahead of time. Prep the ingredients for the savory items early in the day and then assemble them an hour or two before tea time. Because this isn’t a giant meal you only need small amounts of each item. I had three types of tea sandwiches on the menu but only made one or two sandwiches of each variety, which I cut into “tea-size” pieces.
And this is a perfect time to use some of the great options we have available at grocery stores or bakeries, too. You might choose to buy small tarts at a bakery but bake the cookies. For the Lemon Curd Tarts on my menu, I purchased frozen miniature shells from a local shop, defrosted and baked a few of them in the morning (they take about 10 minutes to bake) and then filled them with lemon curd I’d made a couple days prior.
When my friends arrived we started with a glass of Prosecco, while they took a look at the tea menu to select their teas. You really don’t need to have a tea menu, but I’m a tea drinker and always have a large variety of teas on hand so thought it would be fun to let them choose a tea and for each of us to have our own little pot of tea. After I brought the tea to the table I brought all the rest of the menu at once. This is another reason afternoon tea is so easy and relaxing – you don’t mess with courses or worry about who’s eating what when. You just put everything out and let your guests enjoy browsing through the options.
Here’s my menu with links to many of the recipes. You may find that I swapped out ingredients, as in the case of the shortbread cookies, or made only a portion of the recipe, as in the case of the scones.
Lox, cucumber and caper cream cheese on pumpernickel
Sliced radish, butter and sea salt on white whole wheat