tea-header

Taking Time for Glamour on a Wednesday Afternoon? Yeah, We Do That Every Week

Okay, I’ll admit it. For women like us, taking an afternoon off can be the real challenge of hosting a high tea. However, with a little planning you can totally pull it off—and your friends will LOVE the unexpected sparkle and drama added to an otherwise average afternoon. No matter the occasion, hosting a high tea can be the perfect alternative to a ladies lunch, boring baby shower or just another night of drinks.

Pausing for a luxurious afternoon tea became fashionable among English high society in the 1880s. Women would change into long gowns, gloves, and hats before meeting in the drawing room around 4pm to enjoy delicate bites and fine tea served in silver pots.

In Sydney, the elegant English tradition has recently become en vogue again. Many of the city’s best restaurants are offering chic afternoon menus, complete with tiered platters of gorgeous confections, savory snacks, pots of gourmet tea and the option of sparkling champagne—all updated for the modern palette. After trying one such menu while shopping with girlfriends in Sydney, I came back to the States so excited to recreate the experience at home.

I had so much fun creating this menu, incorporating some of my current favorite flavors into traditional high tea delicacies. I found a fabulous tea-set to add some regal style to the party, and had a blast gabbing and laughing with girlfriends over scrumptious scones and treats. Read on for my tips and recipes to host your own gorgeous high tea party.

 

Essential Elements:
essential-elements

 

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5 Esstentials for High Tea
Down
to the Details:

Serve with Haute Style

The experience of high tea goes way beyond the food. This regal ritual is about luxury, that means you want to break out your best dishes, teacups, and saucers. The details here count: serve jams, butter and clotted cream in cute little containers. Get several smaller teapots with infusers so you can pass around different flavors with ease. You’ll definitely want to pick up an elegant tiered-tray or two—these are iconic of the High Tea experience.

A Royal Tradition:
Select Only the Best

Find the absolute best bakery in town, and put in an order of their most delicious scones for pick-up or delivery on the day of your party. While you’re at it, scope out their pastries as well as savory options: you may want to add tarts, fine sweets, and delicious mini quiches.

Easy Elegance:
Keep it
Simple in the Kitchen

If you want to add a homemade touch, delicate finger sandwiches are super easy and best served cold. Whether you go for a recipe from our menu or do something simple as a classic cucumber, just whip them up before you get ready and pop them in the fridge until it’s time to plate. I highly recommend the Salmon Mousse with Cucumber Cups on this menu, it’s simple and sophisticated and adds a figure-friendly option.

r1

Go Girly & Glam:
Play Up the Feminine Vibes

This is the perfect event to embrace all things luxe, feminine, and romantic. Go for the epic bouquet of pink peonies, the ornate silver, and the bold floral-print tableware. Wear a chic colorful dress that screams springtime, and get glam before the party with your favorite hair and make-up look.

An Intimate Afternoon:
Invite Your Besties

High tea is a fab way to connect with close friends and family, or have meaningful conversation with someone you want to get to know better. I find that a group of two-to-five people works best to keep the conversation flowing.

 

Mini Strawberry Thyme Scones

 
r2

Prep: 15 min
Cook: 20 min

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced into small cubes
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries
1 cup heavy cream, plus 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons crème fraiche (or sour cream)
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
1 2-inch fluted cookie cutter

 

Place a rack in the middle of an oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, thyme, baking powder and salt. Use a pastry cutter or your fingers to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles a course meal. In a small bowl whisk together the 1 cup of the cream, crème fraiche, yolk and vanilla. Pour the cream mixture into the flour and use a spoon or spatula to incorporate the wet and dry ingredients. Gently fold in the strawberries and press everything together to form a shaggy dough. Dump the scone batter onto a lightly floured surface and use a rolling pin to roll the dough out until it is 1 inch thick. Cut out circles of the dough with a cookie cutter and place the circles 1 inch apart on the prepared sheet tray. Brush the tops of the scones with the remaining cream and sprinkle with turbinado. Bake the scones until they are lightly golden, about 18 to 20 minutes.

Yield: 12 scones

 

Honey Glazed Earl Grey Scones

 
honey-glazed

Prep: 15 min
Cook: 20 min

1 cup brewed earl grey tea
1/3 cup currants
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon loose earl grey tea leaves
1 teaspoon lemon zest, from 1 small lemon
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced, plus 2 tablespoons
1 cup heavy cream
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons honey

 

Place a rack in the middle of an oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper. In a small bowl, steep the currants in the brewed tea for 15 minutes until they are plump and aromatic. Drain the currants and reserve 2 tablespoons of the liquid. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, tea leaves, lemon zest and salt. Use a pastry cutter or your fingers to cut 6 tablespoons of diced butter into the flour mixture until it resembles a course meal. Add the currants and toss to combine. In a small bowl whisk together the cream, yolk and 2 tablespoons of the reserved brewed tea. Pour the cream mixture into the flour and use a spoon or spatula to incorporate the wet and dry ingredients into a shaggy dough. Dump the scone batter onto a lightly floured surface and use your hands to press and form the dough into a 8 x 6 1/2 inch rectangle. Use a knife to cut the dough into quarters and cut each quarter into 3 triangles. Place the triangles 1 inch apart on the prepared sheet tray. Bake the scones until they are lightly golden, about 18 to 20 minutes. Place the honey and the reserved 2 tablespoons of butter in a small bowl and heat in the microwave for 30 to 45 seconds until the butter is melted. Brush the tops of the scones with the honey butter glaze and allow to set while the scones cool.

Yield: 12 scones

 
Next: Lamingtons

Lamingtons

 
r4

Prep: 20 min
Cook: 35 min

4 eggs
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 bag vanilla cake mix (trader joe’s bourbon vanilla)
2/3 cup raspberry jam
1 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 cups gluten free powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
2 cups unsweetened finely shredded coconut

 

Place a rack in the middle of an oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, thyme, baking powder and salt. Use a pastry cutter or your fingers to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles a course meal. In a small bowl whisk together the 1 cup of the cream, crème fraiche, yolk and vanilla. Pour the cream mixture into the flour and use a spoon or spatu to incorporate the wet and dry ingredients. Gently fold in the strawberries and press everything together to form a shaggy dough. Dump the scone batter onto a lightly floured surface and use a rolling pin to roll the dough out until it is 1 inch thick. Cut out circles of the dough with a cookie cutter and place the circles 1 inch apart on the prepared sheet tray. Brush the tops of the scones with the remaining cream and sprinkle with turbinado. Bake the scones until they are lightly golden, about 18 to 20 minutes.

Yield: about 36 lamingtons

 

Vanilla Bean Pavlovas with Fresh Berries

 
r5

Prep: 10 min
Cook: 15 min

4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
seeds from 1 vanilla bean
1/4 cup fresh raspberries
1/4 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup fresh blackberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup toasted pistachios, chopped
Optional Garnish: one passion fruit garnish

 

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper. Place the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Slowly rain in 1 cup of the sugar, then add the vanilla bean seeds and beat on high speed until stiff glossy peaks form, about 8 minutes. Use a spatula to scoop the meringue batter into a large piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Start by piping a small dot, and then continue piping in a circle to create a 2-inch by 2-inch swirl, leaving space so that the center is hollow. Continue piping the remaining pavlovas 1-inch apart on the baking sheet. Bake the pavlovas for 50 minutes until they are dry to the touch. Turn the oven off but leave the pavlovas inside with the door slightly ajar and allow the pavlovas to cool completely. While the pavlovas cool, place the berries in a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice and the remaining tablespoon of sugar and allow to mascerate for 20 minutes. Drain the berries and reserve the mascerating liquid.

To assemble the pavlovas, place a heaping spoonful of the berries in the center of the swirl and drizzle with the reserved berry juices and a sprinkling of pistachios.

Yield: 12 pavlovas

 

Lobster Roll Tea Sandwiches

 
r6

Prep: 20 min
Cook: 20 min

4 lobster tails
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, plus 2 tablespoons melted
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 celery stalks and leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
4 1-inch thick slices sourdough
1 small bunch watercress

 

Place a large pot of water over medium high heat. Add the lobster tails and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the shell is red but the meat is still slightly opaque. Remove the tails from the water and allow to cool enough to handle them. Using kitchen scissors, cut along the underside of the shell and gently remove the meat. Chop the tails into 1/2-inch pieces. Place the butter and lemon juice in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Once the butter begins to foam reduce the heat to low and add the lobster and poach them in the butter for about 90 seconds until they are cooked through. Strain the lobster into a medium bowl. Add the celery stalk and leaves, chives, salt, pepper and celery seed to the bowl with the lobster and set aside.

Brush the sourdough slices on both sides with the additional melted butter. Place a large saute pan over medium heat and toast the bread in batches until they are golden, about 45 seconds per side. Cut each bread slice into thirds, lengthwise. To assemble the sandwiches, lay a few watercress leaves on half of the bread slices and cover with a spoonful of the lobster mixture. Top with the remaining bread slices and serve.

Yield: 12 sandwiches

 

Chicken Tarragon Tea Sandwiches

 
r7

Prep: 10 min
Cook: 15 min

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 breast halves)
1/4 cup mayo
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 medium lemon)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 small fennel bulb, diced 1/4 inch, fronds reserved for garnish
2 green onions, finely chopped
lemon zest
12 mini pumpernickel squares

 

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over medium high heat. Add the chicken breasts and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, then turn off the heat and allow the chicken to steep, covered, for 8 to 10 minutes, until it is no longer pink in the thickest part of the breast. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and allow to cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Chop the chicken into 1/4 inch cubes.

In a medium bowl whisk together the mayo, tarragon, lemon juice, mustard, grapeseed oil, salt and pepper. Add the fennel, green onion and chicken and toss to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve. To assemble the sandwiches, place 1 tablespoon of the chicken salad on each pumpernickel square and top with a fennel frond.

Yield: 12 sandwiches

 

Ham and Gruyere Tea Sandwiches with Arugula Aioli

 
r2a

Prep: 10 min

1 cup mayo
1 cup baby arugula, coarsely chopped, plus 1/4 cup whole leaves
2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 medium lemon)
1 garlic clove, grated
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 slices deli rye
2 ounces black forest ham, sliced 1/4 inch thick and quartered
2 ounces gruyere, thinly sliced

 

Place the mayo, chopped arugula, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Slice the crusts off of the rye slices and cut each slice into 3 triangles. Spread a teaspoon of the aioli on all of the triangles. Pile a thin slice each of ham and gruyere on each triangle. Top with an arugula leaf.

Yield: 18 sandwiches

 

Salmon Mousse in Cucumber Cups

 
r9

Prep: 10 min

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons crème fraiche, at room temperature
3 ounces smoked salmon, coursely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh dill
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon fresh dill, plus more for garnish
1 english cucumber
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 juice of half a lemon
Salmon roe for garnish (optional)

 

Place the cream cheese and crème fraiche in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the smoked salmon and process for 30 seconds until the mixture is smooth. Add the dill and cream and process for another 10 seconds.
Slice the cucumber into 2-inch rounds. Use a melon baller or small spoon to scoop out the seeds creating a divot in the cucumber. Place the salmon mousse in a piping bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe the mousse into the cucumber cup. Garnish with salmon roe or additional dill fronds. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Yield: 12- 14 cups

Recommendations: Teas- Lady Grey, White Jasmine, Rooibos Red
Curds- Lemon (or the meyer lemon from Easter), Passionfruit, Grapefruit

 

Jetsetter’s Guide: 10 Chic Spots for High Tea Around the World

 

1  Tokyo
THE LOUNGE AT THE MANDARIN ORIENTAL

mandarin

Enjoy spectacular city views on the 37th floor of the Mandarin Oriental, by the fireplace in the hotel’s tranquil lounge. Salmon blinis, mini quiches, scones and tarts accompany a pot of legendary afternoon tea.

 

3  Dubai
ATMOSPHERE BURJ KHALIFA

atmosphere

You’ll never forget the afternoon you spent atop the world’s tallest building, at the world’s highest restaurant, watching the sun set over the Arabian Gulf. For that gorgeous hour, Atmosphere offers an indulgent selection of delicacies as well as freshly roast coffee and juice.

 

5  Paris
LA GALERIE AT THE FOUR SEASONS

fourseasons

Ornate and romantic, La Galerie is the perfect place for a sumptuous afternoon tea in Paris. Delicacies include canapés on toasted country bread, madeleines and macarons, and home-made scones served with cream and jam.

 

7  New York
THE KING COLE BAR & SALON AT THE ST. REGIS

starwood

The King Cole Bar & Salon at the prestigious St. Regis has been updated with a dose of modern glamour. This regal, sophisticated lounge offers a stylish, intimate afternoon tea experience, often accompanied by a live harpist.

 

9  Cape Town
BELMOND MOUNT NELSON HOTEL

belmond

Soak up the gorgeous Cape Town weather with afternoon tea in the garden or on the terrace at the Belmond Mount Nelson. The traditional offering includes finger sandwiches, a delectable dark chocolate cake, and scones along with with a local delicacy—the South African milk tart.

2  Hong Kong
THE MOST FABULOUS TEA IN THE WORLD AT THE RITZ-CARLTON

ritz

The Ritz-Carlton in Hong-Kong has partnered with Graff Diamonds to create a one-of-a-kind afternoon tea to be served by butler in private suites or the hotel library. The high-end experience includes luxe delicacies like caviar smoked salmon, foie gras with roasted apples, and chocolate truffles all served on Vera Wang Chinaware. Meanwhile, you’ll be surrounded by hundreds of carats of diamonds and precious gems.

 

4  Sydney
THE TEA ROOM AT THE QUEEN VICTORIA BUILDING

thetearoom

With massive chandeliers sparkling from towering ceilings and intricately molded cream-and-gold walls, this Tea Room is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular spaces in Sydney. Settle in on a tufted velvet chair and enjoy daily-made finger sandwiches and scones served on classic Royal Albert china with authentic English silverware.

 

6  London
THE PALM COURT AT THE LANGHAM

palmcourt

Famed as the birthplace of Afternoon Tea, the Palm Court has been serving London since the Victorian era. The classic menu includes over thirty types of tea, haute finger sandwiches like smoked salmon with whipped brie, fresh scones and gorgeous pastries.

 

8  Los Angeles
THE MONTAGE BEVERLY HILLS

montage

Afternoon tea is a cherished tradition at the Montage hotel, where the experience is infused with vintage hollywood glamour. Artisan, organic teas and a ravishing array of sweets are served in the chic open-air lounge on delicate, hand-painted china.

 

10  Geneva
THE HOTEL D’ANGLETERRE

dangleterre

French taste meets British Refinement at the Hotel D’Angleterre in Geneva, where afternoon tea comes with lakeside views. A selection of fine teas to suit every palette has been carefully curated, and scones are paired with a decadent double Gruyere cream.

1  Tokyo
THE LOUNGE AT THE MANDARIN ORIENTAL

mandarin

Enjoy spectacular city views on the 37th floor of the Mandarin Oriental, by the fireplace in the hotel’s tranquil lounge. Salmon blinis, mini quiches, scones and tarts accompany a pot of legendary afternoon tea.

2  Hong Kong
THE MOST FABULOUS TEA IN THE WORLD AT THE RITZ-CARLTON

ritz

The Ritz-Carlton in Hong-Kong has partnered with Graff Diamonds to create a one-of-a-kind afternoon tea to be served by butler in private suites or the hotel library. The high-end experience includes luxe delicacies like caviar smoked salmon, foie gras with roasted apples, and chocolate truffles all served on Vera Wang Chinaware. Meanwhile, you’ll be surrounded by hundreds of carats of diamonds and precious gems.

3  Dubai
ATMOSPHERE BURJ KHALIFA

atmosphere

You’ll never forget the afternoon you spent atop the world’s tallest building, at the world’s highest restaurant, watching the sun set over the Arabian Gulf. For that gorgeous hour, Atmosphere offers an indulgent selection of delicacies as well as freshly roast coffee and juice.

4  Sydney
THE TEA ROOM AT THE QUEEN VICTORIA BUILDING

thetearoom

With massive chandeliers sparkling from towering ceilings and intricately molded cream-and-gold walls, this Tea Room is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular spaces in Sydney. Settle in on a tufted velvet chair and enjoy daily-made finger sandwiches and scones served on classic Royal Albert china with authentic English silverware.

5  Paris
LA GALERIE AT THE FOUR SEASONS

fourseasons

Ornate and romantic, La Galerie is the perfect place for a sumptuous afternoon tea in Paris. Delicacies include canapés on toasted country bread, madeleines and macarons, and home-made scones served with cream and jam.

6  London
THE PALM COURT AT THE LANGHAM

palmcourt

Famed as the birthplace of Afternoon Tea, the Palm Court has been serving London since the Victorian era. The classic menu includes over thirty types of tea, haute finger sandwiches like smoked salmon with whipped brie, fresh scones and gorgeous pastries.

7  New York
THE KING COLE BAR & SALON AT THE ST. REGIS

starwood

The King Cole Bar & Salon at the prestigious St. Regis has been updated with a dose of modern glamour. This regal, sophisticated lounge offers a stylish, intimate afternoon tea experience, often accompanied by a live harpist.

8  Los Angeles
THE MONTAGE BEVERLY HILLS

montage

Afternoon tea is a cherished tradition at the Montage hotel, where the experience is infused with vintage hollywood glamour. Artisan, organic teas and a ravishing array of sweets are served in the chic open-air lounge on delicate, hand-painted china.

9  Cape Town
BELMOND MOUNT NELSON HOTEL

belmond

Soak up the gorgeous Cape Town weather with afternoon tea in the garden or on the terrace at the Belmond Mount Nelson. The traditional offering includes finger sandwiches, a delectable dark chocolate cake, and scones along with with a local delicacy—the South African milk tart.

10  Geneva
THE HOTEL D’ANGLETERRE

dangleterre

French taste meets British Refinement at the Hotel D’Angleterre in Geneva, where afternoon tea comes with lakeside views. A selection of fine teas to suit every palette has been carefully curated, and scones are paired with a decadent double Gruyere cream.

 

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