As I placed the final teacup & saucer into the cupboard, careful not to cause any damage, I realised something: tea parties are best when your house is a Manor and you have your very own Mrs Patmore. Here's a few things I learned:
1. A Tea Party must be planned
You should not end a good night at the pub with the call of “Everyone back to my place for a tea party”. Pasta or a BBQ would be a much better option. Aside from the fact that you’ll require lots of different food, both sweet & savoury, you won’t want to wake up with a hangover and a frighteningly high stack of dishes not suitable for the dishwasher (Oh the Horror!)
2. Silver is a diva; pretty but difficult to work with
When you see a silver platter that is sparkling and intricate in design, topped with a delicate finger sandwich or lemon tart, it takes your breath away. Silver platters are beautiful. But when you glance down at your hands and they look and feel like a chalk board, it really takes some of the shine off. Silver is high maintenance and should only be used frequently when an abundance of lovely people from Downstairs are tasked with cleaning it. If you don’t have a ‘Silver Room’ in your house, then maybe you should reconsider hosting a Tea Party.
3. Love your local bakery
Pretty soon into the Downtown Abbey Afternoon Tea Cookbook I understood why Mrs Patmore was always so busy and kind of cranky. The baked goods back then were tricky. There were lots of French dishes (éclairs, madeleines, palmiers, canelés ) and I soon discovered why: “In Edwardian England the ability to produce refined French pastry, such as the puff pastry used for palmiers, was an essential skill of cooks in the houses of aristocracy”.
I found an awesome bakery and saved my crankiness for cutting the crusts off finger sandwiches (So fiddly! So wasteful!).