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Tea party time!



A fun winter activity for family or pod

Have a fun tea party


Let's dress up and have some tea!

Since the smash series Downton Abbey, the American fascination with all things English has gone up several notches. Among the many aspects of English life gaining popularity is the tea party. 

In pandemic times, of course, this activity can be restricted to your family or pod, but even so, the various details can be fun and engrossing and even tasty. Not to mention inexpensive.

Debby Mayne at Spruce has laid out a comprehensive guide to the various types of tea parties – Afternoon Tea, High Tea, Cream Tea, Royale Tea. She offers lists of rules, do’s and don’ts, behaviors and clothing acceptable and otherwise, as well as what types of tea, food, and tea-making accoutrements one must have.

Of course you can look at Mayne’s protocols as guidelines as opposed to rules. Ever since Alice in Wonderland became popular stateside over a century ago, kids have been giving their own adorable versions of tea parties, the customs of which adhere only to the imaginations of the children throwing the party. However you choose to throw your tea party – keeping to tradition or freewheeling or a little of both – it’s a great way to invest energy in bringing people together in real time, and even doing a little playacting.

Among other things, Mayne insists on using loose leaf tea, which can be procured locally at Harney & Sons, based out of Millerton, NY. Numerous Hudson Valley establishments carry their excellent products. (My personal favorite is Paris tea, a fruity black tea with vanilla and caramel flavors, and a hint of lemony Bergamot.) 

Personally, once upon a time I traveled a bit in the UK, and I lived in London for a year. I was amazed at how everyone – from the lowliest rock n’ roller to the snootiest aristocrat – took tea seriously, and how the drink, which requires a bit of attention to make properly, and can’t be made quickly, was and remains a genuine bonding agent for families and friends.

“Can I get you a cuppa tea?” was one of the most common phrases I heard, no matter where I was. What ensued was a process that included specific crockery, beloved brands of tea, and often a knit “tea cosy” to cover a ceramic pot. And the tea, by the way, was always fabulous.

The “tea party” employs these details, but can add elements of costume, etiquette, and, depending on which type of tea party you throw, scrumptious food.

A tea party could very well be a perfect way to start 2021 off, with good company, a warm drink, and some laughs.



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