Having a tea party isn’t just for kids anymore. And adult tea party food is more than just goldfish crackers and Oreos.
Everyone loves a good old-fashioned vintage tea party complete with tea party food and pots of steaming hot tea.
You know, the tea parties with mix and match teacups and saucers, pretty little flower vases, delicious home-made treats piled on a three-tiered stand?
Not only are tea parties great themes for bridal showers, baby showers, and book clubs they’re a fun choice for a girls night.
You can even replace the tea with some delicious cocktails if you’re feeling festive.
Combine a little bit of traditional elegance with treats, and you can have a proper tea party indoors in the dead of winter, or out on the porch during the warmer weather.
Since everything is done in advance, even the host of a tea party can relax and enjoy this time-honored tradition.
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What is Afternoon Tea?
The ritual of afternoon tea started in Britain in the early 1840s, as a mini meal to tide you over until dinner was served.
Today, afternoon tea is more of an indulgence for a special occasion like a birthday, bridal shower or a special day with friends.
Tea Party Food: Traditional High Tea Courses
Traditional afternoon tea is served in three courses, usually on a three-tiered tray, like this one below, accompanied by a pot of freshly brewed tea.
- First Course: Tea Sandwiches and Savory Bites
- Second Course: Scones with Jam and Cream
- Third Course: Sweet Treats
This is by no means a guide to a traditional British afternoon tea, but it’s a great start if you want to have some friends over for a pot of tea and some delicious snacks.
Since most afternoon tea food, such as finger sandwiches, scones, and cookies, are meant to be eaten with the fingers, none of these tasty finger food treats require a knife and fork to eat!
To make planning easier, I’ve split my suggestions into three categories of tea party recipes: First, Second and Third Courses.
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Tea Party Recipes: First Course (Tea Party Sandwiches and Savories)
The first course of a traditional high tea menu is made up of tea party sandwiches and savory tea party food.
If you’re lucky enough to have a vintage three-tiered tea tray, these go on the bottom level.
Here are 5 favorites to spark your creativity for the first course of your afternoon tea party.
These tiny versions of my favorite bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich created by Jee at Oh, How Civilized are the perfect delicious bite-sized stacks of the traditional BLT sandwich.
These are extra special because they’re made with Japanese Mayonnaise and speared with little wood cocktail forks.
These fresh cucumber roll-ups from Natalie at Super Healthy Kids are a fresh take on the traditional cucumber sandwich.
Fresh peppers, carrots, and dill are wrapped up in a slice of cucumber with cream cheese.
Delicious whether or not you’re at a tea party!
These sweet little tea sandwiches created from Bake Love Give are just the savory treat for your vintage tea party.
Pumpernickel, ham, cucumber and seasoned cream cheese make for a sandwich that goes together quickly and tastes great.
If you’re looking for a more substantial savory addition to your tea party menu, these mini salmon croquettes from Victoria Magazine are just the ticket.
Elegant and filling, these taste best when hot, so you’ll need to whip up a batch right before your guests arrive.
Since the first course of a traditional tea party starts with savory bites, these will be hot when your tea party guests arrive.
These savory sandwiches from Tea Time Magazine are perfect for a springtime afternoon tea.
Asparagus, ham, bell pepper and goat cheese combine for a delicious savory tea party food your guests will eat up.
Want more choices? I’ve got you covered with a huge list of 75+ ideas for your afternoon tea first course. Just click over!
Tea Party Food: Second Course (Scones)
The second course of a traditional high tea menu consists of scones and all sorts of wonderful things to top them with: jam, lemon curd, and clotted cream.
The scone course usually should be placed on the middle tier if you have a three-tiered tray.
Here are 5 favorite recipes for the scone course of your vintage tea party.
These lemon blueberry scones from Trish at Mom on Timeout make my mouth water.
I love the combination of blueberry and lemon zest in these moist, delicious tea party morsels.
Trish even shares a recipe for lemon curd and Devonshire cream that would be perfect for your next tea party.
These decadent scones with blackberry whipped cream from Pink Piccadilly Pastries are the perfect start to the second course of scones for your traditional tea party.
These gorgeous little scones will be the star of your table with their piped blackberry cream and fruit garnish.
No traditional tea would be complete without clotted cream for your scones. This recipe from Eat, Little Bird is the perfect addition to your second course.
Not only does Thanh walk you through how to make clotted cream, but she also shares a delicious recipe for raspberry scones.
This basic scone recipe from Sam at Sugar Spun Run is the perfect tutorial if you want to make your own tender flaky scones.
Once you have this recipe down, you can add all sorts of things to the basic scone batter: lemon zest, fruit, etc.
Definitely a recipe you want to have in your repertoire if you plan on hosting tea parties.
Jen from Baked by an Introvert (love this blog name!) created this recipe for Cranberry Orange Scones that would be a perfect addition to a fall tea party.
Orange zest and cranberries are the perfect pairings in these tender, flaky and moist scones.
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Tea Party Food Recipes: Third Course (Sweets)
Finally, the dessert part of the tea party! Sweets and mini versions of your favorite desserts round out this final tea party course.
These tiny sweet bites belong on the top tier of your tea server.
Here are 5 of my favorite bite-sized sweet treats to add to your tea party table.
These tiny cheesecakes from Bea at El Mundo Eats are super easy to make and look gorgeous when displayed on your tea party table.
They’re inspired by the Cheesecake factory cheesecakes but are just the right size for a tiny nosh for your tea party food spread.
These gorgeous lemon raspberry tartlets from Sara at Mom Endeavors are the perfectly sized sweet treat for your tea party table.
Sara makes these with premade puff pastry dough so they go together quickly so that’s a definite win in my book.
They’re pretty too when topped with a single red raspberry.
These cannoli bites created by Jaclyn from Cooking Classy are a delicious combo of crisp pastry combined with a creamy sweet ricotta filling.
Bite-sized so they’re the perfect addition to your tea party table, these delicious treats are just begging for a cup of tea to accompany them.
June from Practically Homemade has turned the awesome flavors of a traditional Boston Cream Pie into the perfectly sized cookie bite for your tea party spread.
They look complicated, but they’re quick to make from a cake mix and instant pudding. But you don’t have to tell your guests – they’ll think you spent hours in the kitchen.
These mini sugar cookie fruit tarts from Audra at The Baker Chick are so pretty and colorful. And they must be healthy because they have fruit in them, right?
All joking aside, your tea party menu wouldn’t be complete without some mini bite-sized fruit tartlets and Audra has come up with a wonderful, easy to follow recipe perfect for your festive table.
Afternoon Tea Party Ideas
Hosting an afternoon tea party doesn’t have to be complicated.
Don’t let the seemingly endless afternoon tea party ideas you see on Pinterest intimidate you.
Plan ahead by choosing a couple of choices for each course, set a simple table with a sweet cup and saucer for each guest, brew a pot of tea and enjoy time with friends.
It’s always tea time somewhere!