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Your Guide to Planning the Perfect Tea Party

We are throwing a high tea party to celebrate our ​first-year​ students ​​​​graduating. What is a High Tea? We’ve put a guide together to help you plan your own high tea at home!

The British believe that a cup of tea can cure (almost) everything, so it comes as no surprise that their passion & enthusiasm played a huge role in fostering our love for this humble brew.

It was ​originally called a High Tea because it was ​​taken at a table, whereas Afternoon Tea was taken while sitting in low, comfortable chairs or sofas.

Tea parties are suitable for many occasions — a bridal or a baby shower, a birthday celebration​,​ or a casual ​get-together with some close friends.

Planning a Tea Party — A Step-By-Step Guide


Before you select a date and​ start to​ send​ out your invitations, keep the nature of your party​ in mind. Be creative with your invitation and ​ensure it reflects the affair's theme and formality. ​Send your invitations well in advance​. A rule of thumb is to give invitations 2-3 weeks ahead so your guests can do some planning.


Choose a theme according to the nature of your party. A bridal or a baby shower will be ​fun, while a retirement party is much more formal. Also decide where you’d like to have your party: indoors or outdoors?

We have listed below, a few party ideas to help you brew the best tea party of the season:

  • Don’t be late for a very important date

It should come as no surprise ​that the Alice in Wonderland theme​ is a fun choice for any tea party. Add some elegant China, quirky pastries, and Wonderland decorations and activities.

  • Around the World in 80 Sips

Bring in popular teas from all around the world ​to your tea party. Serve some chai, green tea, and ​exotic imported teas from Argentina, ​Turkey​,​ or Iran. Serve them as they would be served traditionally​ and​ transport your guests to destinations ​around the world.

  • Dress Up to the Nines

Dress to impress - wear your finest dress or even a period party dress, should you decide to go that route. Drink tea with your friends​ while you relive the elegance and romance of a bygone era.

Table Setting:

Decide whether you want a buffet or a sit-down table setting. Take out your best silver, China​,​ and linen (paper serviettes are a big no-no!). Use three-tiered stands to serve the food on and place a flower arrangement on the table for an authentic English feel.

Drinks and Food Menu

A traditional Afternoon Tea​ consists of a selection of​ teas, cucumber (and other) sandwiches, scones served with clotted cream and jam, a variety of cakes, delicate canapés, quiches, brioches, English muffins, macarons, mini éclairs, petit fours, mille-feuilles, apple tarts, choux buns​,​ and ​biscuits​.

For a healthy tea party option, start with dips such as guacamole and various hummus that go well with thick cucumber and carrot slices, bread-like pita​,​ and lavish, mint chutney sandwiches, followed by gluten-free cakes that are made from almond flour.

For a tea party serve finger foods or bite-size portions as it is more convenient and less messy for the guests.

Various Tea Parties You Should Know About:

  • A cream tea party must have scones and clotted cream on the menu.

  • A strawberry tea party includes fresh strawberries in food and tea.

  • For adult tea parties, you might also consider offering champagne or tea cocktails using any tea and alcohol of your choice.

Tea Selection:

The highlight of the tea party is a wide variety of tea. We suggest serving your guests perfectly brewed tea while you laugh around and have an enjoyable afternoon.

While a conventional tea party calls for an Earl Grey, based on your theme, or go the contemporary way and serve various tea blends, such as black or green​,​ or white, floral, and fruity blends; don’t forget the ​rooibos! Offering such a variety ​of teas will ensure your guests will have a delightful experience.

On a hot day, remember to add different flavoured iced teas. Accompany the tea selection, make sure to have milk, cream, thin slices of lemon, sugar cubes​,​ and honey ready, so your guests can enjoy their tea exactly as they like it!

Party Favours:

A take-home gift is an excellent way to help your guests have a souvenir of a memorable day. Good gifting options can be ​biscuits, tea infusers, jams​,​and tea mugs.

Tea Party Etiquette

Here is a list of the most basic tea party etiquette for those that are unfamiliar with it:

  • Pinkies in: The correct way to drink your tea (from a teacup) is to hold your ​teacup with the pinkie finger down.

  • Don’t dunk food in your tea: A traditional English scone​ ​has the cream spread first, then the jam - it is important to not dunk food in your tea.

  • Stir ​gently: It is important to stir gently​ as you will be dealing with fine china​ and you don’t want to break it. A back-and-forth motion is preferred, rather than a circular one and never (ever) clang the teaspoon on your cup.

A tea party is all about fun and enjoyment and is perfect for kids, teens, and adults alike. Steep the tea, sip, and enjoy the conversations and your flavoursome brew.

Steyns Culinary School is the ultimate experience for your next team building, social function, or just getting to know your friends and colleagues better.

For more information about our group cooking sessions, contact us by sending an email to or WhatsApp us at 072 645 5167​.​


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