The Tea Party Re-Vamp

No, this is not a blog about politics. But, I’ve been thinking about Tea Parties a lot lately, nevertheless.

I just read that Lady Gaga is reviving the tea party. Well, if Lady Gaga is doing it, we are all talking about it.  And, I would rather talk tea party than have a conversation about a meat dress any day…so I am rolling with it.

Tea? Lady Gaga is a lady, after all….

Now my mind is reeling. TEA? Party ideas abound, especially as the holiday season is upon us and I think that there is no more delightful way to celebrate with friends in a low-key way.

But tea isn’t really new is it?  If perhaps not a new trend, we could say the glorification of tea and tea culture is a re-emerging one. After all, tea has been around since 2737 BC when dried leaves blew into Chinese Emperor Shen Nungs cup of hot water. Follow the leaves through culture and time to Japan where love for the aromatic leaf resulted in what became the Japanese Tea Ceremony and then on to Russia, where laden chests of the dried leaves were sent to Czar Alexis by the Chinese Embassy in Moscow in 1618.

And then there is my own personal history with tea. Travel 237 years from Russia to 1960s New Jersey and I see my Aunt Teddy (short for Theodora) placing a sugar cube between her teeth and sipping tea from a glass in a silver holder (just as the Russians did in the old country). I’ve been lucky enough to experience the exotic: delicious Kashmiri Tea with hints of almond and pistachio as I shopped through various Pashmina Palaces in India – and the classic: Tea at the Savoy in London.  (More Devonshire Cream, please!)

Closer to home, Rare Tea Cellars is making a big splash in the Chicago restaurant scene and Harney and Sons just opened a new tea emporium in New York’s Soho. Hmmm. Something is definitely brewing…

For our event clients at Entertaining Company, I’ve recently discovered celebrations focused around tea are the perfect way to entertain in the new millennium. Thrifty because, for not a great deal of money, a variety of teas (white, green, oolong, black) can be offered to add a sense of discovery. Fun because, clients get to mix and match cups, saucers, crystal bowls, waterpitchers, demitasse spoons and teapots (with and without lids) and suddenly the table is set with a visual feast.  A tea party feels rich and opulent. Refined and relaxing. Exploratory and extraordinary…all at once.

To accommodate large groups in sometimes limited spaces, delicate tea snacks or more substantial finger foods are easily enjoyed by guests standing up and easily mingling around the table. Brew some Republic of Tea teas and add flavors like Chai Spice Honey, Vanilla Bean Honey, and Lemon Cream Honey.  Then, accessorize a tea party with themes.  I am thinking:

Traditional English Tea Party: Tea roses, vintage mismatched china, and lots of biscuits and tea sandwiches.

Silk Road Tea Party: Asian-inspired tea cups (no handles) and a menu of fluffy pork buns or some gingery-pork meatballs.  If you’re more into the Indian inspirations offered by the Silk Road you could whip up some cucumber and mint chutney tea sandwiches and comforting potato and pea Samosas with some warm cinnamon chai.

Boston Tea Party: Think teacups filled with clam chowder, honey-roasted ham sandwiches with Vermont cheddar and cranberry mayonnaise on rustic bread, and bite-sized apple crostadas.  Of course, a lively conversation about politics should also be served.

Lady Gaga Tea Party: Imagination is on the menu for this one.  Just don’t forget the glitter and invite all of your favorite “little monsters”.