Back To School Tea Party Ideas

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It time to put away bathing suits and sand toys and start getting ready to go back to school! Like most children Kat’s niece Camille is reluctant about it, so Kat thought she’d find a way to lift her spirits and get her ready. I of course had the most brilliant idea. A back to school tea party! Imagine a party filled with sweets and treats to start getting the young ones back in the school spirit. With a little planning we can lift their spirits and get them excited about going to class.

For starters, let’s talk about décor. I’ve decide there needs to be a crafty-school theme for the party. A centerpiece incorporating a nice big globe, pencils with flower eraser toppers (and everyone gets to take one home), and by each plate a mini chalkboard personalized with each guest’s name. Kat suggested also placing a little notebook and pen next to each plate so the guests can take tasting notes. This will get them ready for creative writing and critical thinking!

I think apples should be the food theme, don’t you? A nice homage to the season, and all of those hard working teachers. We’re thinking a fennel apple salad to start, cheddar and apple finger sandwiches, Candy apples, and apple tarts to bring a festive feel to the party. We may also have a few small bowls of shiny apples on the table for décor.

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To accompany the delicious bites, we’re going to serve Hy-vee Honey Orange Chamomile tea. This herbal tea blend is caffeine free and perfect for everyone at the party. The honey and citrus flavors will work perfectly with the apple flavored nibbles. Kat knows this tea is a favorite of Camille’s, and she can’t wait to surprise her with it. She’s not sure if she’ll serve it hot or iced yet, it will depend on the weather forecast. This tea is very soothing hot. The sweet honey and tangy citrus make for a smooth and nuanced cup. The honey and chamomile combine to make a sweet and delicate flavor. When iced, the orange proves to be quite refreshing and the floral chamomile rounds everything out quite nicely. You can’t go wrong with this tea!

 Since we want this to be a party that combines school and fun, there needs to be a game or two! We’re going to create a ‘Pin The Spout On The Teapot’ game by easily cutting out a large festive cardboard teapot and making spouts to be pinned on. I think we’ll also do a ‘guess how much’ game, where we’ll fill a large glass teapot with jellybeans and everyone needs to have a guess at how many are inside. A great way to revive those math skills after a fun summer!

 For even more ideas, check out my Pinterest board! Dearies, I’m sure you all have your own clever tea party ideas. I’d love it if you’d share them with us! Best of luck with getting ready for the school year.

Cinco De Mayo Tea Cocktails

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I see that Cinco de Mayo is coming up, and Kat’s already researching some fun cocktails to toast the day. I’ve decided she needs to make a few tea-infused cocktails! I mean, let’s face it Dearies, I’m the one that makes the beverage decisions around here! I’ve been thinking about the traditional cocktails you may drink on Cinco de Mayo, and have hunted down some tea-infused versions.

Sangria is one of Kat’s favorite drinks. It brings back memories of relaxing in Barcelona on one of their warm, sunny evenings. This fruity drink gets upgraded with a dose of black tea. Kat likes to make this recipe, and add in one of her favorite flavored black teas- HEB Cranberry Blood Orange Black tea.The sweet and tangy blood orange and hibiscus flavors bring to mind a sunny afternoon dining by the beach in Ibiza. You can practically feel the warm ocean breezes with each sip. Kat sometimes pulls this tea out in the middle of winter, to melt away all the chilly thoughts.

Also, who doesn’t love a good margarita! I’ve been looking for a good tea infused margarita recipe and haven’t found one that’s just right. So Dearies, I made one using the same delicious HEB tea! Here’s what you’ll need:

Tippy’s Marga-TEA-rita

Makes 1 drink

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) tequila
  • 1 lime wedge
  • 2 teaspoons sugar, plus more for coating rim of glass
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup water off the boil
  • 1 tablespoon Cointreau
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes
  • 1 bag HEB Cranberry Blood Orange Black tea

Rub the lime wedge along the rim of a glass, and dip in the extra sugar. Steep the tea and allow it to cool. Combine the tea, alcohol, sugar, juice and ice in a blender, and whirl until combined. Enjoy!

For a non-alcoholic drink, how about a chai-spiced horchata? Horchata is a cinnamon flavored, milky drink made from ground rice or nuts. It’s a cooling yet flavorful sip perfect for both children and adults! I think the spices make it quite festive!

Whatever you do this Cinco de Mayo, have fun! Enjoy beautiful weather, tasty drinks, and most importantly wonderful friends.

DIY: Easter Tea Brunch

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It’s time for egg hunts and Easter bunnies! I love the colors and flavors that Easter brings to our house. Kat loves decorating with pretty pastel colors and creating sweet baskets for her nieces and nephews. This year she’s planning an Easter brunch for family and friends. I’m very excited about our menu so far! Here’s what we’ve got:

We’re going to start with eggs, of course! How can you have an Easter brunch without lots of eggs? Kat’s British friend Jocelyn sent her this recipe for Bacon Deviled Eggs. They are the perfect thing to nibble on to start off the tea brunch! The smoky bacon gives the creamy eggs a nice interesting flavor and crunchy texture.

We’ll serve these peppery ham tea sandwiches that are savory with a bit of bite. Kat’s also going to make these little mini spinach quiches. They are just the right amount of food to pair with the sandwiches. She’s going for a brunch that’s light and sunny, with springtime flourishes.

Then it’s time for Kat’s favorite strawberry scones. These delicious, tender scones are a hit with both children and adults! They’re easy to make and quick to disappear! We’ll have lots of Devonshire cream on hand to spread on them.

Dearies, I’m sure you’re wondering ‘But Tippy, what about the tea’? Of course, I was just getting to it! It took Kat awhile to decide on a tea that would pair with all of the tea nibbles. She finally decided on Wegmans Earl Grey Black Tea.  She loves this malty, bold tea with a hint of bergamot. It’s the perfect thing for all the sweet and savories she’s going to serve. The black tea and citrus flavor pairs well with just about everything!  For those that do not want caffeine Kat has created a beautiful floral blend of chamomile and lavender. It’ll be delicate and floral to match the upcoming spring weather. If the idea of a bespoke floral blend tickles your fancy, stay tuned for an upcoming post about blending tea with flowers!

To finish off the meal, Kat found this recipe for vanilla custard served in eggshells which will be a whimsical way to end the meal. She’s planning on serving cut-out butter cookies as well, in festive Easter shapes.

What are your Easter plans? Whatever you do, I’m sure you’ll find creative ways to include tea into your activities! Happy Easter everyone!

DIY Springtime Tea Party

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Since spring is on the way, Kat has decided it’s time to start planning her annual spring tea party! She always gets so cheerful when she’s planning her springtime teas, and who wouldn’t perk right up at the idea of tea amongst beautiful flowers and delicious treats?

She’s planning on having the tea party on her back patio. It’ll be lovely among the newly budding flowers and trees. The dining room will be the back-up plan in case of rain or chilly weather. No matter where the party will be, flowers will be everywhere! She’ll have vintage teacups stationed on the table and throughout the area holding all sorts of bright flowers. Yellow freesia and daffodils are my favorite! I love the sunny yellow hue. But of course, any cheerful flowers will do!

For our savories, we’ll serve delicate tea sandwiches- We like to keep our spring tea fare on the light side, with these lemony cucumber tea sandwiches. Crisp fresh cucumbers, zesty lemon and creamy cheese make a delicious yet light bite. She’s also going to serve a platter of smoked salmon with bagel crisps, capers, and crème fraiche. Everyone can help themselves to take as much or as little as they’d like.

Kat’s planning on making these lemon ginger scones and serving an abundance of fresh fruit- seasonal items such as oranges, kumquats, cantaloupe, and kiwi will be featured. She likes to keep the fruit as seasonal as possible to ensure freshness. Don’t forget the Devonshire cream!

We will have a bright lemony tea to bring sunny sips to the party. HEB Lemon Herbal Tea will be the perfect accompaniment to our fresh springtime fare. This tea has hibiscus, rosehips, orange and lemon peel with a little bite of chicory root and tang of lemongrass. It’s tart, tangy, and sweet. The lemon flavor is so juicy, it’s as if you squeezed a fresh lemon wedge in your cup right before drinking! Kat’s mom sent her this tea recently when she was starting to feel the effects of our cold, stormy winter. The zingy brew perked her right up. A dash of honey adds a nice comforting sweetness. She’s kept this tea in mind for her springtime tea ever since she tried it.

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After the scones, Kat’s going to serve a little cups of tea sorbet. She has these sweet little demitasse cups that will work perfectly! I love the mismatched vintage teaware Kat uses for tea parties. She’ll be pulling out all the floral cups she can find for her spring soiree! I better get those cups in order, they need a proper dusting and we need to review how to behave during a tea party! Us vintage teacups can get a bit forgetful, but we’re quick to learn!

Dearies, I promise that spring is almost here! Do you have any special spring events you are looking forward to?

Teas for Halloween!

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Boo! Dearies, Halloween is fast approaching. It’s time to get out the creepy decorations and stock up on candy. Are you going have a Halloween party? Kat adores Halloween and this year she’s planning on throwing a Halloween tea party for all of her friends. She already has most of the decorations, and even found a skeletal companion to sit on my saucer. I don’t mind the company, but he’s not much of a conversationalist.

We’ve been discussing the party over our tea, and here are some of the fun tea-infused ideas Kat is going to use:

She’s going to make a ‘Witches Brew’ tea by serving cups of rooibos steeped with vanilla and cinnamon with apple pieces floating on top. She’ll add a few gummy worms for a slithering surprise! It will help set the mood at her party.

Kat is getting creepy-creative with another party drink, this one iced with a bit of fizz. Mix 3 parts tea with 1 part cranberry juice and 2 parts club soda for a bloody, bubbly beverage. Kat will be using one of her favorite teas for this potion, this HEB My Cup of Bliss Hibiscus Ginger Orange. She’s been drinking this tea ever since her next door neighbor served it to her when she first moved in. Kat enjoyed getting to know her, and delighted in soothing sips of this herbal tea. The tart hibiscus and orange flavors danced on her palate. But it was the surprising zing of ginger that had her sit up and take notice. She was also drawn to the deep red color of the brew. Her neighbor sent her home with a few teabags and she’s bought many boxes home from the grocery store since then. The deep red color of the brew is perfect as a bloody base for many Halloween drinks. Kat is glad it is herbal, so even the children at the party can enjoy it.

Kat brought home dozens of little gummy spiders to add to her ice cubes for a skin-crawling surprise. Simply pour water into an ice cube tray and add a gummy spider to each compartment. Freeze for at least 4 hours and you have a creepy addition to your iced tea potion! I can’t wait to see everyone’s reaction when they see these floating in their drink!

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Kat came up with one other fun, creative drink for the party. She just couldn’t stop at two! For a slimy, limey punch, add a 2-liter bottle of ginger ale, four cups of chilled green tea, and ½ a gallon container of lime sherbet to a punchbowl. Add in some peeled grapes for a slippery eyeball effect! For an icy addition- fill a washed, disposable latex glove with water, tie or seal and freeze for at least 4 hours. You’ll get an amazingly macabre hand to float in the punch bowl!

For a tea-infused addition to her Halloween treats, Kat is adding matcha to vanilla cookie frosting. It gives a ghastly green look to her witch and monster cookies! Just add a few teaspoons to your icing recipe until you get the desired color. It’s easy and creepy!

Kat loves to get lost in her daydreams and was thinking of giving out teabags to the trick-or-treaters. I had to convince her that as delicious as tea is, the children will be expecting candy! Even this old teacup knows that! Happy Halloween dearies, and I hope you have a fun tea-filled time!

Pairing Sweets With Tea

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Dearies, I’ve been studying our calendar in the kitchen and noticed there are two days in October dedicated to sweet treats! National Dessert Day (Oct. 14th) and National Chocolate Day (Oct. 28th). Throw in the candy-loving holiday of Halloween, and I think October should just be called Sweet Tooth Month!

These sweet celebrations reminded me of a trip I took with Char to Vienna. Such a beautiful, historic city, and gorgeous pastries of every size and flavor! Daydreaming of celebrations and Viennese pastry led me to an idea- wouldn’t it be fun to a have a tea and mini dessert party!? I think it’s the perfect excuse to have at least one tea and dessert get-together, so I mentioned it to Kat this morning. She of course agreed. We got right down to business and started thinking about the sweet treats to serve and what teas to pair with them.

When you are pairing teas with the sweets, there are two main directions you can go in- you can try to pair the sweets with teas that have similar flavor notes (floral, honey, fruity, spicy, nutty, etc). Or you could pair by strength- lighter desserts with lighter teas and rich desserts with bolder teas.

Kat and I have greatly enjoyed doing our ‘research’. Here are some flavor combinations we are dreaming (and drooling) over:

Dark chocolate desserts are strong with a slightly bitter sweetness. We enjoyed pairing these with a malty bold Assam that stood up to the strong flavor. A full bodied floral and sweet second flush Darjeeling also complimented the chocolate. My favorite is serving an Earl Grey with that dark chocolate dessert. The bergamot enhances the sweet bitterness beautifully. We figured this out when Kat brought home a box of artisanal chocolates a co-worker gave her as a thank you note. When she tried the dark chocolate early grey truffle, the flavors were singing on her tongue.

For a milk chocolate dessert, try a gentle and vegetal sencha green tea or a lightly roasted floral oolong. The flavor of the chocolate is a bit mellower, and the sweetness will pair well with the green tea. The floral and honey notes in the oolong are lovely with the milk chocolate.

For a super-rich dessert like cheesecake, go as bold as you can with your tea. Smoky flavors also work well, to cut through the richness. Try keemun, or lapsang souchong for strong flavors, a bit of astringency, and the smokiness. The layers of flavor will add new dimension to your dessert. Our favorite tea to pair with a decadent treat is an earthy, sweet pu-erh to cut through the richness and soothe the tummy.

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Since it is apple season, bake up an apple cake, or mini apple tarts and serve it with Darjeeling. The grapey fruit flavor of the Darjeeling will complement the apples quite nicely. The floral notes will make you feel as if you are sitting in an apple orchard!

For milder desserts a white tea would be lovely. For something nutty, try pairing with hojicha, a roasted green tea. Have a dessert with caramel? A medium-roasted oolong would pair nicely.

What would you serve and a tea and dessert party? The best way to decide is to get out there and get tasting!

Tea Party for Pennies

Planning a tea party but the piggy bank is empty? Never fear, dearies! It is easy to think of tea parties as being extravagent and costly, but with a little bit of planning, you can host a tea party for 8 people for less than 20 dollars!

Tea Party for Pennies

First, the shopping list:

From the Market
Sugar 1.75 cups
Butter 3 sticks
Eggs 15 eggs
Bread 1 loaf white bread
1 package chocolate chips
1 package cream cheese
2 cucumbers

From Your Pantry
Vanilla extract
Dried dill weed
Mayonnaise
Mustard
Strawberry Jam
Tea

The Menu

Scones

We love these “Simply Delicious Scones” from FirstHomeLoveLife.com. For $4.82, you can make enough scones to serve 8 guests. Add a small jar of strawberry jam or preserves for $2.89.

Tea Sandwiches

No traditional afternoon tea party is complete without cucumber sandwiches and egg salad sandwiches. Both, fortunately, are quick and easy to prepare.

These Cucumber Tea Sandwiches from SuitableForConsumption.com have the highest price tag on the menu, at $5.92. But they are worth every cent! Use a half teaspoon of dried dill weed mixed into the cream cheese rather than fresh dill to keep the costs down.

Tricia Yearwood’s Mini Egg Salad Sandwiches are as easy on your pocketbook as they are to prepare. And, though small, they are delightfully filling! Hold the chives to keep the costs down, or opt for a sprinkle of dried chives if you have them in your spice cupboard. Total cost: $3.89

Sweets

What is an afternoon tea without a sweet dessert at the end? This Easy Brownie recipe from Chow.com is rich, super-chocolate-y and you probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry. For $2.48, this decadent treat is a must!

Tea

As a tea lover, it’s highly likely that you already have plenty of your favorite tea on hand. There’s no need to go out and buy special tea for the occasion, unless you want to. If you do not have any tea on hand, however, make it easy and economical and pick up a treasure from your grocery store aisles. One of our favorite teas is Wegman’s Cinnamon Spice Black Tea. For just over $2.00, you can enjoy a festive black tea that is lovely plain but is also fun to dress up with milk and sugar.

Sugar

Speaking of, if you have an extra $1.75, surprise and delight your guests by serving actual sugar cubes. You know my feelings on the subject.

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Decor

It’s summertime, and as a result there are plenty of beautiful potential centerpieces that can be found in your yard or your friend’s. Cut some flowers from the garden or find some wildflowers. Pull out your stash of cloth napkins. Don’t worry if they don’t match. Or find and borrow simple white tablecloths, assemble a variety of tea cups and let the tea cups themselves be the decor!

Don’t let the dollar be your detriment to having a beautiful tea party. You can serve a fun, filling tea service for less than a pizza delivery. Bon appetit!

Inspiration for a Bridal Tea

It’s wedding season, and that means Bridal Showers abound! One of Kat’s nearest and dearest friends, Anneliese, is getting married in Texas and Kat is in shower planning mode! We’ve had so much fun pinning ideas to our latest Bridal Tea Inspiration Board.

Inspiration Board - Bridal Shower

Here’s what has inspired us so far!

1. Food and beverage – No tea party is complete without Cucumber Sandwiches and these are quick and easy. We also love these gorgeous open face Mosaic Sandwiches! And with the bride and bridesmaids watching their figures, a platter of assorted fruits is essential! The tea? H-E-B in Texas has the most luxurious line of teas called, “My Cup of Tea”, and two in particular caught Kat’s eyes and taste buds. First, Serenity, an herbal infusion with calming lavender and sweet mint. The blend has a gentle sweetness that allows the mind to slow down and take in the moment.  Then, there’s Joy, a delicate green tea with a hint of jasmine that lifts the soul! The heady floral scent accentuates the brightness of the green tea and makes any day feel like a sunny day. What better tea blends to soothe and celebrate this exciting time in the bride’s life!

2. Setting the scene – We love the idea of a vintage setting, and how fun to re-purpose an old chest of drawers or dressing table into the tea party’s buffet or welcoming tableau. A damaged mirror might be turned into a chalkboard with a welcome message or menu. Vintage cups and saucers may set the stage, or this may be where the tea sandwiches, fruit platters and desserts may be laid out.

3. Party favors – How fun are these? Custom tea bags for the guests to take home and enjoy after the wedding festivities have subsided. This is a lovely way to keep the tea party going!

4. Selfie Station – One would be remiss to not plan for selfies at such an event! And what a sweet and sassy backdrop this is!

5. Table decor – Re-purposing household items and un-used craft materials is a big win when it comes to decorating for an event! Annaliese’s mom has a gorgeous rose garden, and Kat has quite a stash of scrapbooking paper. She can pick up a dozen mis-matched narrow vases or bottles from a second hand store, and voila! Charming centerpieces!

6. The dress! – A hostess must look her best, and Kat has her heart set on a vintage, tea length number. We love the scalloped neckline and the nipped in waist of this one. And the color! Divine!

7. Accessories – No outfit is complete without the right shoes and jewelry. A little sparkle on a kitten heel will do nicely. And while Kat’s budget might not allow for the real deal, a girl can dream about these, can’t she?

Are you planning a bridal shower? What has been your source of inspiration?

Host An Irish Themed Tea Party

St. Patrick’s Day is a day when everyone is Irish! Shamrocks and Pots of Gold abound, and I, for one, love being part of the action. Char loved Ireland and traveled there often to visit one of her oldest and wisest friends, Kathleen. We were always invited over for “high tea”, which makes many Americans think of dainty sandwiches and bite-sized sweets, when in actuality it is the working man’s meal with hearty fare. Kathleen made the most wonderful shortbread (that Char tried and miserably failed to replicate at home). And the tales she could tell! Char would be laughing until the tears would stream down her face. We all ventured to Blarney Castle together, and Char kissed the blarney stone, joking that she hoped she would attain that magical “gift of gab” that Kathleen possessed.

Ah the memories… What better way to celebrate them than to put on an Irish themed Tea Party!

First, there is the decor. Think GREEN! Whether creating your own Irish-inspired hats or fascinators…

Shamrock hat

As found on PapierBonBon

to setting a shamrock-laden tea table…

Shamrock Tablescape

to planning a hearty Irish menu…

Shamrock cucumber sandwiches

As found on willcookforsmiles.com

Shamrock cookies

As found on BHG.com

to selecting your tea! Of course, you must have an Irish Breakfast blend! But why not add a green tea to go along with the general theme! Kat’s been loving Target’s Simply Balanced organic Green Tea Mint! It has a mellow earthiness that is balanced with the freshness of peppermint and spearmint. Delicious!

Simply Balanced Green Tea Mint

Found at Target

Have some “Pots of Gold” to give your guests a little “Luck of the Irish” (or at least to take care of their sweet tooth!)

Pot of gold

As found on The36thAvenue.com

Grab some of your closest friends and family and talk all the blarney you like!

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle – Photo by Eddie Hennessey

And most of all, enjoy your time together. Holidays are about reconnecting, celebrating old traditions and creating new ones. What’s your favorite St. Patrick’s Day tradition?