“Well that was the silliest tea party I ever went to! I am never going back there again!”
—Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
“Low tea, taken at four, may be as humble as bread and butter and a pot of tea with a plate of biscuits, or it may be as elaborate as a large iced cake, a plate of strawberries and a heap of tea sandwiches. For inspiration, it is useful to read Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers or the early novels of Iris Murdoch, in which tea menus are elaborately described.
The great advantage of a tea party is that everything can be done in advance and the hostess gets to put her feet up and sit around for a little while before the thundering herds appear. Furthermore, the menu should resemble a crazy quilt or set of unmatched china. The chocolate cake sits next to the cheese buns, and the cucumber and anchovy sandwiches commingle with the shortbread. In short, you can serve four or five (or two or three) of your favorite things and a pot of tea (with coffee or wine for those who do not drink tea).”
—Laurie Colwin, Home Cooking
My own party, if I had one today, would offer buttermilk biscuits with unsalted butter and French strawberry jam, curried cheddar spread on Jacob’s Cream Crackers, and some of the roasted zucchini salsa I made last night, with a smidgen of smoked trout and lemon slices. Tangerine Sencha, I think, as the tea. Out in the just-wakening garden, on a lichen-colored linen cloth.
image: Tea Party, Tias Arms