The second part of our blog on throwing your own tea party concentrates more on what food should be served during High Tea. It is worthwhile considering that it is not supposed to be a main meal or a picnic, so forget meat pies, chicken legs and sausage rolls.
Traditionally, High Tea was a very elegant occasion, things related to it are dainty, especially the food. In past years, the gentry would have had games and succulent delights, but their tea was more substantial. Plan your food so that guests do not leave stuffed, but rather pleasantly satisfied.
It is a good idea to provide more than one type of tea and offer both milk and slices of lemon as you do not know how your guests prefer their drink. There is a vast array of teas to select from, one should definitely be an English Breakfast Tea as this will be expected, and be daring with the other. Perhaps Earl Grey, herbal, fruit, chamomile or even peppermint?
There is no regulatory food that must be served at High Tea, just study the internet for culinary delights and try to be adventurous. Keep on the light side of things, so sandwiches should have their crusts cut off and the fillings simple and not thick.
In most tea parties, the host would be expected to provide cakes, sandwiches, scones, teacakes. But push the boat out a little, surprise your guests with delicate French pastries, petits fours and crumbly cookies. Perhaps look to Asia for something exotic, like samosas or savory cakes.
Sandwiches will take the least effort, they are easy to make, and the fillings can be prepared well ahead of time, as long as they are stored correctly, they just need to be constructed when you are ready to serve. Again try to be adventurous, use ingredients such as salmon, coronation chicken, carrot and raisin, crab and, the granddaddy of them all, cucumber.
Scones are best eaten on the day they are baked, so give yourself plenty of time in the morning for this endeavor. This has an added benefit to your tea party in that it fills the house with superb aromas and tells your guests that you have been busy on their behalf. Scones should be served still warm, freshly taken out of the oven with lashings of jam and, if possible, clotted cream.
Biscuits are a great way of expressing yourself culinary wise, there are so many options that you can select, including shortbreads, nice, ginger etc. But to elevate your table, why not think more in terms of patisserie? Serving French pastries is a definite wow factor as everybody knows how hard they are to prepare.
Finally, your cake stand should have, of course, cakes; the important thing here is that the cakes should be individual. This does not mean you cannot serve a delicious Victoria sponge cake, just make sure it is cut into small thin slices.
There is no doubt having a tea party is a great deal of work, and it will test your baking skills to the limit. But do try to create the food yourself, there is a great difference between store bought and homemade food, and your guests will appreciate the extra taste and effort.