It’s been several centuries since the British first began the tradition of serving afternoon tea. Nowadays, demand for the herbal beverage is a fast-growing trend in the US — even though it’s more for the iced variety rather than hot tea.
That is changing, though, as more and more Americans are beginning to appreciate the “ritual,” so what better way to honor Mom than to treat her to a beautiful afternoon tea? It’s the perfect activity in which all the family, even those with young kiddies, can participate to make the day very special for mom.
Eat it outdoors on the front porch or on the patio by the pool, it’s an occasion where the food can be prepared ahead of time except for the pot of tea, of course. There’s something about that pot of tea and your best china that will make the day special for Mom.
Traditionally, afternoon tea is a ladylike and decorous repast. A quintessentially English afternoon tea starts with a selection of finger sandwiches, then scones, and ends with an assortment of pastries — that’s cakes and cookies here.
As most moms appreciate the simpler things in life, your afternoon tea surprise doesn’t need to be a five-star Ritz affair. It’s important that even the youngest of children enjoy taking part.
Keep it simple. Tea. Sandwiches, Scones, Cake. Once you’ve decided on your menu, have the kids prepare menu cards to place on the table. These can be printed out or handmade with crayons or paint.
Where will you want to enjoy afternoon tea? A crisp, white tablecloth works wonders here, along with some linen napkins and your best teapot and cups, and saucers. If you don’t have a matching tea service, round up your best cups and tea plates, and be sure to polish the cutlery. Don’t have fancy napkins? Just use the kitchen roll folded nicely. Consider a trip to the local dollar store or thrift shop, and you might even find a cake stand. Be sure to add some flowers to the table.
Serve traditional English breakfast or Earl Grey tea or both! Remember to warm the pot first and use boiling water on the tea leaves or tea bags.
You don’t need to go for the typical cucumber and watercress. Use what’s in your pantry. Tuna and mayonnaise or grated cheese and egg mayonnaise fillings work well — as do peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The key to making your sandwiches is to keep it simple. Whatever type of sandwiches you choose to make, you must cut off the crusts. This is absolutely essential. What shape you cut them into — slim rectangles or delicate triangles — is up to you.
This could be the time to show off your baking skills if you have any. If you don’t feel confident enough to bake, buy store-made scones. Serve them warm or at room temperature, and be sure to have lots of clotted cream and mom’s favorite jam.
Again, if your baking skills are nonexistent, then you can cheat and buy store-made plain mini cupcakes, and the kids will enjoy adding their own frosting. Alternatively, you could buy a freshly baked layer cake to display on that cake stand you found at the thrift store.
Afternoon tea enjoyed in the comfort of your own home will make your mom feel like a princess.