Enjoying afternoon tea while sitting on a gilded armchair is one of the many British traditions that everyone can appreciate. Nothing beats the sophistication of sipping tea from a fancy China cup and nibbling on finger sandwiches while having a good chat with family and friends. Although several afternoon teas are offered in Singapore, nothing beats having tea time in the comforts of your home.

Throwing your own afternoon tea party can be a fun experience. Still, it can be overwhelming as the effort put into the décor, food, and etiquette require meticulous planning and attention. If you’re planning on hosting your tea party at home, it’s best to learn everything you can about it – afternoon tea basics, menu, types of tea, and how to prepare for it. Read on to know how to host a tea party successfully.

What’s the Difference Between Afternoon Tea and High Tea?

High tea and afternoon tea are frequently regarded synonymously, but they have subtle differences.

Afternoon tea is a British meal tradition where you sit down for a treat of scones, cakes, sandwiches, and of course, tea during the middle of the day. It’s typically served around four in the afternoon on a low, relaxing table setting, usually in the garden or lounge areas. Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, first did it to fill the gap between lunch and dinner as the latter is usually served around eight in the evening.

On the other hand, high tea can be viewed as a light supper. It’s served during early evenings at the high table or kitchen counter. The dishes such as meat, casseroles, and potato dishes are served with hot tea. These meals are heartier and more filling as they are meant to replenish flagging strengths after a hard day’s work.

Afternoon Tea Basics

Afternoon tea is an elegant culinary affair that involves specific rules on when and how to serve it. It’s worth knowing these essential elements to adequately organise a tea party at home.

1. Time

Although British afternoon tea was served initially at 4pm, modern afternoon tea in Singapore is served between 2 pm to 5 pm. From its origin as a stop-gap to curb hunger before dinner time, afternoon tea has evolved into a fashionable way to have a snack.

2. Menu

Select the tea you prefer, which will be served in a pot. Tea is first served before the food. Food-wise, afternoon tea has three main courses that are plated together instead of separately. They are elegantly arranged on a tea stand with three tiers. Tea sandwiches and savouries are on the bottom, scones and bread are in the middle, and desserts and sweets are on the top tier.

3. Etiquette

The first course of afternoon tea is the first tier – the tea sandwiches and savouries. These are bite-sized and crustless so you can eat them with your fingers. The next course is the scones served with jams and clotted cream. Place the scones on your plate and spread jam and cream onto the small pieces. Again, use your fingers to eat them. The last course is the desserts on the topmost tier. You can eat the mini pastries and cakes in 2 to 3 bites.

In a formal afternoon tea setting, everyone at the table has their own teapot with their choice of tea. If you have finished your tea and want more, you can ask for hot water to pour into your teapot.

Tips to Organise a Tea Party

Now that you have an idea of the afternoon tea basics and etiquette, it’s time to organise your own tea party at home. Follow these helpful tips and you’ll be able to host a successful tea party.

1. Create Your Guest List

First things first, you need to create your guest list. Will you be having an intimate tea party or a big one? Who are you inviting? How many people are you going to ask? Create a guest list so you can determine the amount of food you will serve and what kind of seating arrangement you will set up for your afternoon tea party.

2. Send Out the Afternoon Tea Party Invites

Once you've created the guest list, it's time to send out tea party invites. You may send your guests their invitations via traditional or online methods. The important thing is they can receive it. Ensure all the essential details are indicated, including the address or venue, date, time, dress code (if any), and the contact number where they could RSVP.

3. Put Up the Decor 

Choose a color scheme for your decor. We recommend going for pastel shades as they are dainty and would work well with a traditional afternoon tea party theme. Elements such as fresh flowers, buntings, candles, and doilies are perfect as decorations for your tea party. Get as colourful and creative as possible so long as it fits your theme.

4. Set the Scene

Create a tablescape for your tea party at home. A white table cloth will do if you aim for a simple setup. However, for a more colourful table, you can layer a pastel-colored or floral-themed table cloth under a lace table runner. Don’t forget the placemats and napkins.

For your tableware and cutlery, you can choose the ones with elegant designs if your tabletop is plain white, as your china and silver will serve as functional table decors. However, if you already have a vibrant table setup, you can opt for plain tableware to avoid having too much colour on your tablescape.

5. Serve What’s On the Menu

Here comes the tricky part – what's on your menu? If you've been to afternoon teas in Singapore, you might notice the wide range of savoury and sweet desserts served that wouldn’t look out of place at a French patisserie. At first glance it might be intimidating to prepare all of these elaborate dishes at home and if you're not a chef or a fan of cooking, you might find it challenging to create a menu for your tea party.

Luckily, plenty of patisserie and dessert boxes are available online for your convenience. You can find a complete tea party set online, order your French pastries, tarts, or cakes, and enjoy delivery anywhere in Singapore. With these convenient delivery services at your fingertips, you won't have to worry about what you'll serve your guests.

Order your Afternoon Tea Party in a Box

Hosting your afternoon tea party doesn’t have to be complicated. If you’re worried about the extensive menu needed for a tea party, simply order a classic afternoon tea menu from Pâtisserie CLÉ. Our Tea Party Set is complete with all the necessary culinary essentials for an afternoon tea. You can also try our Tart Gift Box so you and your guests can taste all of our luxurious tart creations.

Aside from our dessert boxes, Pâtisserie CLÉ also offers tart delivery services within Singapore. Our patisserie’s wide array of sweet and savoury delicacies are also available for online order. Order today and enjoy free delivery across Singapore with a minimum purchase of $100.

28 August, 2023 — Patisserie CLE