Serving afternoon tea or high tea can be such a fun experience! While expensive in a tea shop, hotel, or restaurant, hosting one at home can be super affordable, especially with this list of Tea Party Food Ideas and Recipes.
Whether you stick to finger sandwiches and scones or branch out into deviled eggs, shortbread cookies, and petit fours, these Tea Party Food Ideas are perfect for prepping at home on a budget. Be sure to include some Cucumber and Cream Cheese Sandwiches and Orange Scones as well as our faves below.
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While they might not have called it a “tea party” on Downton Abbey, afternoon tea is definitely cause for celebration. With a tasty tea cake and cucumber sandwiches, not to mention a cup of strong brew, it’s the perfect mid-afternoon meal.
My daughters and I have gone for tea sandwiches and scones at a local shop and while it’s nice to be pampered, prepping tea party foods at home can be easy and delicious as well as economical.
Why Do This
It’s cheaper. At $40 per person, catered tea parties can be incredibly expensive. Prep your own tea party recipes so you can enjoy afternoon tea more often.
It’s easier to accomodate all styles of eating. When you prep your own tea party sandwiches and desserts, you can adjust for food allergies and preferences more easily. You can make Vegan Lemon Bars or make sure there are no nuts in the chicken salad so that everyone can indulge.
Tips for Success
Consider these Tea Party Ideas and tips for success:
Focus on small finger foods. Afternoon tea isn’t meant to fill you up with one big plate of food. It’s an array of nibbles with lots of flavor. Be sure to scroll down for some of our favorite finger foods recipes.
Plan for choices. When planning your Tea Party Food Ideas, consider offering two types of savory, two types of sandwiches, two types of tea party desserts. This gives folks choices and makes the tea party feel extra special.
Choose a few key recipes to make yourself. These can range from things such as egg salad tea sandwiches, mini chocolate cakes, or homemade Lemon Drop Scones. You don’t need to make a dozen different things, but do plan on two options of each type.
Feel free to buy a few ready made things. Tea Party Food Ideas run toward small and tiny, therefore, also time-intensive to prep. It’s okay to buy something already prepped like macarons or other sweet treats. Clotted cream is super yummy, but takes a good 24 hours to prep.
Add some seasonal touches. Depending on the time of year, include some holiday treats to match the calendar, such as Easter Oreos or Easter Bunny Cinnamon Rolls in the spring, Cinnamon Roll Turkeys at Thanksgiving, and Christmas Scones for a December tea.
Tiered trays are the thing. If you can find tiered serving trays, those are ideal for tea parties and afternoon tea. I found mine in the dollar section of Target, but you might also find them at thrift stores and other discount stores. In a pinch, stack cake stands of different sizes.
Be sure to have some good teas. Tea is a a key item in your tea party. If you have a tea pot, so much the better. Offer cream and sugar as well.
A tea party or afternoon tea usually features finger sandwiches, scones and clotted cream, as sometimes extra menu items such as small savory finger foods, like mini quiche and small pastries.
Presumably your neighbors already have their Tea Party Food Ideas planned. A gift of flowers or a packet of loose leaf tea is a nice host/hostess gift.
Tea, the beverage, is not a food, but tea, the meal, is. In the UK tea often refers to a light afternoon meal.
Serve a savory.
In a tea room, afternoon tea often begins with a savory item such as a soup, quiche, or salad. Choose 1 to 2 of the following for a first course.
Serve finger sandwiches.
A mainstay course for tea is finger sandwiches or small slider-size sandwiches. Use small rolls, or mini croissants for any of these fillings.
Serve small size desserts.
A tray or two of small desserts or cookies will not go amiss. Choose 2 to 3 to serve with your afternoon tea. Or make a larger Christmas Bundt Cake to slice up.
Don’t forget the scones.
Scones are tradition at a tea party, and a key part of a cream tea (scone, clotted cream, and a good cuppa). Serve scones with cream or Sweet Cream Cheese.
This post was originally published on February 12, 2016. It has been updated for content and clarity.