Your next tea party should probably have a theme, and one of the most beautiful options you have is to have it be a Victorian tea party. It is also a custom that has a long and illustrious history. Anna Maria, seventh Duchess of Bedford (1783–1857), was the first person to popularise the practise of drinking tea as a social ritual. Due to the fact that members of the English upper class ate a light lunch and a very late supper, she was constantly hungry in the afternoon. When Anna Maria wanted some tea and cakes in her boudoir one day, she requested her staff to prepare them for her. She persisted in the practise and eventually started inviting other people. It wasn’t long before word got around about how lovely the concept was, and high society swiftly adopted the practise of serving afternoon tea.
Make plans to have your Victorian tea party in the living room, which serves as the contemporary analogue to the drawing room that was common in Victorian homes. Make sure that there is sufficient table space within easy reach of all of the seats so that visitors do not have to balance their teacups and plates on their laps.
Tea was generally served around four o’clock in the afternoon during the Victorian era, however now days it may take place at any time between three and five in the afternoon. To make the invites, begin with a sheet of paper in a pastel hue, and then hand-write or type the relevant information using a calligraphic font. You may embellish the invites with Victorian-era photos or paintings, paper doilies, bits of cloth, dried flowers, ribbons, and other trinkets and adornments.
Take careful note of the attire and/or items that guests are expected to bring to your tea party. Request that your guests come dressed to the nines for an extravagant event by having them don a tea dress or a suit along with a fancy hat and gloves. Do not worry if you do not have enough teacups to accommodate all of the guests who have been invited. Just be sure to remind everyone to bring their own. Due to the fact that having a porcelain teacup was a sign of high social status during the Victorian era, it was customary for ladies to bring their own teacups to afternoon tea in an elegantly cushioned box.
A Victorian tea party should include a sampling of traditional tea party foods such as tea sandwiches, scones, pastries, fruit tarts, fruit cakes, small cookies, tarts, petits fours, and a gorgeous layer cake. Serve the foods in 3 decadent courses: tea sandwiches, scones, and then sweets. Along with the dainty finger foods, plan to serve a popular British black tea like English Breakfast or Earl Grey.
Play classic music in the background at a low volume. Specifically, look for piano selections by popular artists from the Victorian period. Select works by composers such as Debussy, Schubert, Schumann, and Chopin. A couple of favorite pieces to play are “Suite Bergamasque” or “Claire de Lune” (both by Debussy).
For a Victorian tea party, decorations are not essential. After all, afternoon tea was an everyday event for the Victorians so they didn’t necessarily decorate for it. The teapot, teacups, a pretty tablecloth, and other tea accessories create an elegant atmosphere and can really stand on their own for the décor. The food also becomes part of the decoration when sandwiches, scones, and sweets are placed on a tiered server and a layer cake is displayed on a cake stand.
To decorate, simply do your best to make your living room look like a traditional Victorian drawing-room. Serve the tea on a low side table. Doilies, lace table cloths, and pretty linen napkins are perfect for the occasion. Bring out your best china but don’t worry if it is mismatched. As long as the colors are complementary, the various patterns can add character to your display. Also set out sugar cubes and tongs in the traditional Victorian fashion. Beautiful flower arrangements will give that finishing touch but be sure to place them on tables away from the food trays. The Victorians did not arrange flowers next to their tea party fare because they believed the scents from the flowers overpowered the smell of the foods.