Friday, 18 May 2018

Afternoon Tea Etiquette

I’ve been asked a lot about afternoon tea etiquette, especially as more people are choosing to celebrate their weddings by serving afternoon tea to their guests. Obviously each setting will be different, however following the basic afternoon tea etiquette guide should place you in a good position.
Typically served at 4pm, afternoon tea originated with the Duchess of Bedford in 1840. Gaining popularity amongst the aristocrats, it has grown into a British institution enjoyed by people from all over the world. There is a code of etiquette to be followed when enjoying this tradition, especially if one wishes to be invited back. Below is an etiquette guide, which can be observed in all the great Tea rooms across the United Kingdom.
No elbows must be on the table and one mustn’t slouch.
Always fold one's napkin crease facing towards you on your lap.
Use a tea strainer for loose tea leaves, offering to pour for others before oneself. Tea first followed by milk. Stirring must be done in a back and forth motion, six to twelve o’clock, rather than a circular motion. This will help to dissolve the sugar cube, reduce noise, splash, prevent whirl pooling sugar cubes and undissolved sugar at the bottom of the tea cup.
To hold the cup, place your thumb and index finger through the handle and rest the cup on your middle finger. No protruding pinkies please!
On low height tables, pick-up both the teacup and saucer. If one is seated at a high table, one need only pick-up the tea cup.
Start with the sandwiches first, these should be eaten with your fingers.
Moving on to the scones. Often miss pronounced, the correct pronunciation is ‘sk-on’.
Using your fingers, break the scone into two. Take a portion of cream and jam and place on the edge of one’s side plate, before loading onto your scone.
There are two options for scone layering; the Devonshire way is to first layer the cream, followed by the jam, and the Cornish way is to first layer the jam, followed by the cream. It matters not which way you choice, however one must never sandwich the two halves together. Scones must always be eaten in two halves.

Hold the pastry or cake folk up-turned in the right hand to eat all pastries and cakes.
Once finished dab one’s mouth with the napkin, do not wipe.
Hopefully you have found this useful. Enjoy your afternoon tea!
If you’re planning to host an afternoon tea for your special event, we offer a mouth-watering menu, which includes, tasty finger sandwiches, dainty buttered scones, scrumptious sweet treats and delicious homemade cakes. All served on our beautiful vintage china. Contact us for further details.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Afternoon Tea Delighting Society Since 1840

Afternoon tea was introduced in England in 1840 by Anna, seventh Duchess of Bedford. It was served at four o' clock, filling the gap between lunch at dinner. Originally consisting of bread and butter, cake and tea. She would invite friends to join her and thus began the tradition of afternoon tea. 

Some 40 years later, afternoon tea became a fashionable event. Society women would dress in fine gowns, accessorised with hat and gloves and take tea in their drawing rooms. 

Dainty sandwiches were introduced, scones served with clotted cream and preserve as well as cakes and pastries, with tea drunk from delicate bone china cups. 

Nowadays afternoon tea is a delightful experience enjoyed by people of all ages and from all backgrounds. It is more of a special celebratory meal, than an everyday occurrence. 

Over 100 years later, the afternoon tea menu served today, is very similar to that served in the grand drawing rooms of the upper class ladies of society. It has delighted generations and will continue to do so. 

We are delighted to be part of this tradition. Our afternoon tea is served on beautiful vintage china. It includes a selection of traditional finger sandwiches, dainty buttered scones accompanied by lashings of clotted cream and strawberry preserve, scrumptious macaroons, heavenly rich chocolate brownies, delicate fruit tarts and delicious homemade cakes of various flavours. All washed down with our lovely refreshing tea. 

We cater for all occasions, large and small. Visit our website to find out more information and to view our gallery.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

The Introduction of Cocktail Hour

I was sitting on our roof terrace one sunny afternoon, working on ideas for a client’s birthday tea party. Suddenly I thought, how can I recommend these cocktails without first making sure they taste delicious? I'm all heart like that.

I also thought, God it’s hot! Surely 14:00 is an acceptable time to have a cocktail.

So I headed to the kitchen, pulled out the ingredients and began to mix.

I'm not going to lie, some tasted better than others. By the end of the afternoon I was a little far gone and can't remember what the latter ones tasted like. I reasoned if they were great, I would have remembered, and for this reason I removed several from the list.

Remembering that these cocktails were to be served at a tea party. I started to think about using tea as an ingredient. I love green tea, I love gin and I love cake. I'm not even sure I'd be able to choose between them, so let’s group them together as 'my favourites' and hope I never have to.

I thought about adding cake to the cocktail. Obviously I was a little tipsy by this stage. Thank goodness I reassessed that idea. It is most definitely better to serve cake on the side, rather than in the cocktail.

During the afternoon, I stumbled upon a recipe by Greg Henry, tweaked it a little and came up with a winner. This is how I make the green tea gimlet.

The Green Tea Gimlet

To make a batch of 4 you need:
  • 5oz of Tanqueray gin 
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of Genmai Cha Japanese green tea
  • 3oz of fresh lime juice
  • 2oz of sugar syrup (Easy to make, its equal amounts of sugar to water heated until the sugar is dissolved and left to cool. I make up enough to fill a bottle and keep it in the fridge)
  • 4 lime wheels as garnish
  • Ice
  • Put the tea into the gin and leave to infuse overnight
  • Leave glasses in freezer to chill
  • Drain tea infused gin. (I'm sure you can buy some fancy gadget to do this, but I use a clean pop sock)
  • Squeeze limes
  • Fill cocktail mixer with ice, add gin, lime juice and sugar syrup, stir until thoroughly chilled
  • Pour into chilled glasses
  • Add lime wedge garnish  

This is a cocktail I definitely recommend serving at your tea party. I love it so much, I introduced cocktail hour in its honour.  
Now that the seasons have changed I'm experimenting with rum. I'll let you know when I find another winner.
On other news, the build is finished. Hooray! We now have a lovely new office, loads of storage and a beautiful sun terrace which is a pleasure to drink cocktails on.
Claire x

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Tips and Ideas for the Perfect Styled Vintage Wedding

Traditionally newlyweds would leave for their honeymoon midway through their weddings reception, often catching the late steam train or boat. Capturing the romance of travel from a bygone era can be a visually stunning way to great your guests. This is especially true if you, like many couples these days have asked for a contribution towards your honeymoon as a gift.

To do this use wartime leather suitcases, not only do these look great, but they offer a very practical place for you guests to leave their wedding cards and gifts. Grouping items together will have more impact, therefore its worth thinking about which items complement each other. For example adding a vintage parasol, a folding camera and an old map, ideally of the honeymoon destination to the suitcase display would look great.  To achieve more visual depth, it's useful to add layers of detail with smaller interesting objects, such as glass paper weights, magnifying glasses or a pair of vintage binoculars.

Guest books are very popular at modern weddings, if you'd like to incorporate one into your vintage themed wedding, I suggest it's grouped with a pile of vintage books and a vintage typewriter. To add an extra layer of detail it's nice to incorporate some wedding photos of older relatives, especially if they are unable to make your special day. Make sure you use frames that are aligned to the vintage theme.

Whether you are serving afternoon tea or morning breakfast, there are some styling ideas that work for both. Vintage books make beautiful centrepieces, these can be enhanced with candles or flowers. Using particular glassware, for example champagne saucers instead of flutes will add some 1930s glamour. Tea and coffee served from vintage china is a sure way of boasting the vintage theme as well as injecting colour to your wedding tables. Greater depth can be achieved by layering smaller details, such as silver sugar tongs and linen napkins.

If you're serving drinks in an outside area, glass drinks infusers work really well. They look beautiful filled with colourful drinks and guests can help themselves. My favourite is homemade lemonade or gin and elderflower. Serve drinks in jar glasses with stripy straws to complete the look. Add some outdoor games, such as croquet, a quintessential garden party must to complete the look.

Vintage Tea Party offer a fantastic styling service, they have a wonderful collection of authentic vintage props and a beautiful collection of vintage crockery.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Play That Funky Music

I'm super excited for summer, apart from the obvious warm weather and more cheery disposition of Londoners, I'm looking forward to attending two amazing weddings. These will be very different, one is a country garden wedding in the Cotswolds, the other a grand hotel reception in Edinburgh. Having chatted with both couples, they share a common theme, they are yet to decide which music to include in their special day.  

Music is an important element to any wedding. Most couples will take time to choose which piece of music they wish to include in their wedding service. Whether that be a piece of classical music, their favourite song, or a hymn they like.  

For some, that's where the thought stops. I once attended a wedding where the same song was played on a continuous loop for the duration of the whole meal!  

I wasn't going to put our guests through that. Luckily both my husband and I love music and have eclectic tastes, which came in handy when trying to include a little bit of everything to please our guests. After months of 'hard work', (term used very loosely), we'd put together a playlist that would last 3 days. (We were a little greedy and stretched our wedding out). 

So last week, whilst slurping my chicken pho, I was asked by one bride-to-be, if I had a song request to add to their list. Only 1 song, so difficult to choose. 

After which started an hour long discussion with the soon to be married couple, myself and my husband, about top wedding songs. The four of us sat around the restaurant table discussing the merits of each song and have come up with a list of 30.  

To clarify these are not the best songs ever written, these are in our humble option, some of the best songs to be played at an evening wedding reception.  

We made the following assumption; that you like your guests and wanted them to have a good time. That your guest list would be of a mixed demographic. (Some songs may not be for you, but someone at your wedding will love them). T

These songs are in no particular order (as we couldn't agree, so I’ve listed them alphabetically).

Top 30 Evening Wedding Reception Songs 

9-5 (Dolly Parton)
Bright side of the road (Van Morrison)
Brown Sugar (Rolling Stones)
Dancing on the ceiling (Lionel Richie) 
Dancing Queen (Abba)
Don't stop me now (Queen)
Footloose (Kenny Loggins)
I wanna dance with somebody (Whitney Houston)
Livin' on a Prayer (Bon Jovi) 
Love Machine (Girls Aloud)
Lucky Star (Madonna) 
Moves like Jagger (Maroon 5ft Christina Aguilera)
My Generation (The Who)
Proud Mary (Tina Turner)
Sex on Fire (Kings of Leon)
She bangs the drum (Stone Roses)
Stayin' Alive (Bee Gees)
Superstitious (Stevie Wonder)
Surfing USA (Beach Boys)
Sweet home Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
The way you make me feel (Michael Jackson)
Together in Electric Dreams (Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder)
Twist and Shout (The Beatles)
Uptown Funk (Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars)

With only 30 slots to fill, this has been incredibly difficult, we were unable to include many amazing artists.

I'm not saying these are the best songs ever written, or that they are the only good songs to play at a wedding reception.  I'm however pretty sure if you want to please your guests and have them up dancing, you won't go far wrong playing a few from the list above. 

I’m know a lot of these songs will be played at the weddings this summer and I can't wait to hit the dance floor. There is already talk of a dance off. Given a few drinks and I may even join in.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Sparkling Celebrations

The use of engagement rings dates back to cavemen, they tied cords of braided grass to their mate’s wrists, ankles, and waist. One of the first recorded uses of a diamond engagement ring, was Archduke Maximilian of Austria. He proposed to Mary of Burgundy in 1477 with a ring that was set with thin, flat pieces of diamonds in the shape of an “M.”

Why you may ask am I sharing my limited historical knowledge with you. Well I was delighted to hear that my best friend's valentine's weekend was a great success and she returned from Paris an engaged woman. Hooray!

Having very little knowledge about diamonds, I was surprised to hear my husband is something of an expert. Apparently he did a lot of research, this is what I've learnt:

When choosing the perfect diamond for your engagement ring there are four C's to consider; Cut, Clarity, Colour, and Carat.
  • The cut determines a diamond's shape and brilliance. A well-cut diamond reflects light and sparkles. 
  • Clarity refers to the purity of a diamond. Most diamonds have internal blemishes known as "inclusions," but high quality stones have no visible marks and are considered flawless. 
  • The highest quality diamonds are colourless. 
  • The weight, or size, of the diamond is measured in carats. The more carats a diamond has, the more expensive it will be.
Expert advice aside, I think most importantly you have to love it. I'm pleased to say the boy did good and she is wearing a stunning sparkler on her third finger which she loves.

Other not so exciting news is that our so called 'watertight' roof was not water resistant. Our romantic valentines’ weekend was interrupted by a waterfall pouring through our bedroom ceiling. Nothing cools the passion quite so much as a small flood.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Things Are On The Up

Sunday’s torrential rain turned our leaking ceilings into small waterfalls. It was all a bit comical, we had so many buckets and pans set out to catch the water, it was like an assault course moving from one room to the other.

Monday the ceiling came down and I stood on my landing looking at the sky surrounded by a pile of, what I imagine to be 100 years of dust and dirt. My cream carpet is now black.

Up went temporary boarding and after two days of non-stop banging, I've been told we are water tight. Hooray!

If that's not exciting enough, today I featured as a guest blogger on the fabulous English Wedding blog. 

To read click here, enjoy!

Come visit our website to see our collection.