Ladies Afternoon Tea at Miller Manor
Low (Not High) Afternoon Tea.
Yep, there is a difference you know….more on that later.
First, the invitation….I thought these were adorable when I found them on line.
The two tea bags pull out on strings with all the details of the afternoon tea….time: 3:30 Pm, hats please, address and RSVP phone number.
If perhaps you were curious as to how “Afternoon Tea” originated…..According to legend, the Duchess of Bedford (1783-1857, a lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria) is credited as the creator of afternoon tea time.
The Duchess is most likely a relative of mine (no proof), because she had a “sinking feeling” of hunger about 4 pm each afternoon. My kind of lady! 😉
The evening meal was hours away and lunch was hours earlier so she would have her servants sneak her a pot of tea and cakes or breads to “tide her over”. Later, she started sending invitations to her friends….and the afternoon tea was born.
The invitational afternoon tea became common among the aristocrats and the commoners for pretty much the same reason. Hunger!
Low Tea consisted of teas and finger foods, including small sandwiches and bite sized cakes. High Tea consisted of heartier fare and larger portions and was usually around noon or mid-day. Many years later the late evening meal was moved “up” in time and became a High Tea.
The practice of inviting friends to come for tea in the afternoon was quickly picked up by other social hostesses…and I particularly love to entertain with a group of four for afternoon teas. (more intimate that way, although one can certainly invite a large group, positioning “low” tables around the outside garden or room to hold plates and cups of tea).
Yesterday, at 3:30 pm, my three guests arrived for our Tea Time….and my friends were on board with the hats and vintage wear.
I only show you this pic of me to show that we all wore hats, but I take terrible pictures and I am not sure what I was thinking or doing in this shot, but it made me think of Mrs. Bucket (Bookay) on PBS. 🙂
Since my servants were no where to be found ;)….I took a few shortcuts with the food prep. I pre-ordered mini, cherry almond cupcakes and regular sized cupcakes from that wonderful little bakery …”So Sweet Cupcake Bakery”…(see post How Sweet “So Sweet” is…..)
I also bought the prettiest pink coconut cake, meringues, blueberry and cranberry scones…from my local supermarket.
I did make the chicken salad, ham salad and cucumber sandwiches myself using a round cookie cutter for the different breads.
I used a Cherry Preserves (my favorite brand, Bonne Maman) and Clotted Cream for the warm scones.
I brought out a few of my teapots and offered 5 different kinds of teas.
For the Serving table I used my counter-top that I covered with a pink tablecloth and positioned two pink parasols.
I then brought out all my serving dishes and put little paper labels on them so I could remember what I wanted to place on/in each one.
(I find that works the best for me when I am in the home stretch of prep)
For a focal piece on the serving bar, I placed two old vintage books with a pair of really old wire rimmed glasses and a large strand of my pearls that I broke several years ago and have never fixed the clasp. 🙁
The centerpiece on the table was a small white birdcage filled with pink roses that I sat atop a white lace doily that I have had for years.
I really like this flatware….so vintage looking.
My vintage rose china sat prettily on another pink tablecloth with pink napkins. The chairs also had pink chair covers.
Over the dining table, I hung another pink parasol …(I gave a baby shower once and I happen to have 6 pink parasols)
Did I tell you that I like the color pink?
We had a great time…we ate, drank our tea, chatted, played a couple personality games and chatted some more until about quarter to seven.
We may be in the 20th century…but it was fun to drift back in time with a custom that I occasionally would like to see revived again.
Thoughts??? my dear readers.