Hold an Alice in Wonderland Tea Party | Tea Parties

Since we are so close to Halloween, wouldn’t it be fun to hold a dress-up Alice in Wonderland–or Mad Hatter–tea party for adults or children.

Meredith Sweetpea just adores a good themed tea party!

Alice in Wonderland Tea Party ideas

Alice in Wonderland Invitations:

  • Create a teacup- or teapot-shaped invitation telling your guests not to be late for a “very important date.”
  • You can address them from the Queen herself, the White Hare, or Alice.

Dress Up Ideas for your Alice in Wonderland Tea Party

  • Your guests can dress as characters from Alice in Wonderland–or their interpretation of those characters. You may assign each guest Continue reading

The Difference Between Afternoon Tea and High Tea | Tea History

Afternoon Tea

What is the difference between Afternoon Tea and High Tea? Meredith Sweetpea finds that people often confuse the two and will attempt to clarify the difference here.

Essentially, the two are differentiated by the times they are served and by the meals themselves.

What is Afternoon Tea?

Afternoon tea was eaten about four o’clock, before the evening dinner, as a polite snack. It usually consisted of tea, cakes, bread and sweet butter, and biscuits.

It is said that afternoon tea was introduced in the late 18th century by Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford. During the 1700s, dinners had been gradually moved from about four o’clock in the afternoon until now seven or eight o’clock at night. And breakfast was at nine or ten in the morning, with a light lunch.  The Duchess became hungry about four o’clock, and found that a light meal served in her room would tide her over until dinner. She found the experience so pleasurable, that she began to invite friends to join her, and thus is the birth of the social afternoon tea.

It originally began with just a light snack of toast or bread with sweet butter, then over time, as the popularity of the ritual increased, began to include more elaborate offerings such as cakes, crumpets, scones, and perhaps some light sandwiches.

Ladies of any social standing should know how to brew and serve a proper cup of tea. She showed off her best tea tray and expensive tea sets that included a teapot and stand, teacups and saucers, a milk pitcher or jug, a sugar bowl, and a basin for holding discarded tea leaves.

There were three levels of afternoon tea:

  • Cream tea: serving tea, scones, jam and Devonshire or clotted cream
  • Light tea: serving tea, scones and sweets
  • Full tea: serving tea, savory items, scones, sweets and dessert

The menu has even evolved to today include three “courses” in the afternoon tea:

  • Savories: appetizers and tiny sandwiches
  • Scones: served with jam and Devonshire or clotted cream
  • Pastries: cookies, cakes, shortbread, and sweets

High Tea at Tea-Upon-Chatsworth

What is High Tea?

High tea was considered to be a main meal, and was generally served between five to six o’clock. It evolved from the 18th century dinner and replaced it among the fashionable. Dinner was then served at eight o’clock or later.

Another term for high tea is “meat tea” as meats were generally served. A typical menu might consist of roast pork, salmon, salad, trifle, white and brown bread, jellies, lemon-cheese tarts, sponge cake, walnut cake, chocolate roll, pound cake, current teacake, curd tart and cheeses. Although tea was the main beverage, hot cocoa and coffee her sometimes served as well.

What is Nursery Tea?

There was even one more type of tea: the nursery tea. It was served at four o’clock to the children and became their evening meal. It was served in the nursery, as children did not dine with the adults. Cake, bread and butter, and jam were usually served, with a sponge cake added for a special birthday celebration.

Mrs. Hardesty’s Tea Room | Tea Room Reviews

Unfortunately, Mrs. Hardesty’s Tea Room closed in August 2011, but the good news is that the Heritage Bakery & Cafe is now in its place, and serves scones and tea!

Mrs. Hardesty’s Tea Room in Harrisonburg, Virginia offers a traditional tearoom in a non-traditional setting. It shares the historic Hardesty-Higgins House with the local tourism center.

Opened in October 2005, The tearoom is set back in a sunny yellow room adjacent to a lovely patio for outdoor dining, and the restaurant serves traditional tea fare (like scones), a light lunch (11:00 am-2:00 pm), and afternoon tea (2:00 – 5:00 pm)

Formal Tea and Princess Tea

Make reservations for lunch, as the tearoom is often booked up. And be aware: reservations are required 24 hours in advance for formal tea that consists of a selection of tea sandwiches, scones and sweets served on a three-tiered stand and a pot of tea or iced tea.

Recently added to the menu is the Princess Tea, a lighter version of the Formal Tea. It includes four tea sandwiches, a scone and four sweets, and a pot of tea or iced tea. This also requires a 24-hour advance reservation. Both the Formal Tea and the Princess Tea are served 3:00 to 5:00 pm only.

Lunch at Mrs. Hardesty’s Tea Room

Meredith Sweetpea and her mother enjoyed tea here recently. One highlight of our meal was the delightful selection from over 65 loose teas. Our server led us to a “sniffer bar” where we could smell the teas we were contemplating, and we made our selections from white, green, black and oolong teas, fruit and herbal blends and rooibos tisane. We selected a decaffeinated English tea and Caramel Tea. The caramel tea was a new choice for us, and with a little sugar in the cup, tasted exactly like a smooth caramel. We purchased some to take home as well.

Our lunch selections included “The Rockingham” chicken salad sandwich with grapes served on raisin bread, and “The Farmer,” three ham biscuits served with cole slaw and chips. Delicious.

But what really caught our eye were the orange scones, although a variety of other desserts are offered. We snagged the last two available. (We heard that sometimes you even have to reserve your scones, they are so popular.)  The light texture went perfectly with the jam and clotted cream we ordered extra. It comes with the tea packages, but can be ordered a la carte with individual scones.

The History of Mrs. Hardesty’s Tea Room

Following our repast, we spent a while wandering through the several rooms of historical displays regarding Rockingham County and the Civil War. It turns out there was a Mrs. Hardesty, and she and her family lived in this house, which is the second oldest still standing in Harrisonburg. Mr. Isaac Hardesty was the first Mayor of Harrisonburg in the 1850s.

During the “Great Unpleasantness,” Mayor Hardesty was said to have entertained Union General Banks in this house as much of the surrounding area of the Shenandoah Valley was being burned by Union forces. Soon after, the Hardestys moved North.

The building then became an inn, and then a furniture store. In summer of 2005, it became home to the Harrisonburg Regional Tourism offices, Valley Turnpike Museum, Rocktown Gift Shoppe, Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance offices, and Mrs. Hardesty’s Tea Room.

We ended up spending the afternoon here in this delightful little tearoom, and encourage others to come here as well.

Mrs. Hardesty’s Team Room is a member of the Southern Association of Tea Businesses

Traditional English Scones | Tea Recipes

Traditional scones aren’t sweet, and they’re never made with chocolate chips or sprinkled with sugar before baking.  Makes 8 to 10 large scones or 12 to 14 smaller ones.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup superfine sugar (or run regular granulated sugar through a food processor to make it fine)
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick unsalted chilled butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Optional: currants, raisins, cranberries, almonds, pecans, orange or lemon zest
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Lightly grease a cookie sheet (no need to grease if it’s a Teflon surface)
  3. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles small 1/2-pea-sized crumbs.
  4. Transfer to a large bowl and add other ingredients like raisins or nuts, or leave plain. (Don’t add zests at this step.)
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and cream and any fruit zest.
  6. Add egg mixture to flour mixture. Using a fork, stir to form large, moist clumps of dough. Press dough together with your hands until dough comes together.
  7. Using a biscuit cutter or your hands, make scones in rounded clumps to your liking, either 2 inches or 4 inches in diameter and 1/2- to 1-inch thick, so it looks like a rounded biscuit. Place on cookie sheet.
  8. Bake until scones are golden, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  9. Cool 15 minutes before serving.

Meredith Sweetpea recommends enjoying these scones with clotted cream, jam (never jelly or preserves), or lemon curd.

— From the Pump Room, Bath, England

%d bloggers like this: