When we think of tea party menus we usually think of serving light fare. This is what you'll find most often served in England, and is referred to as afternoon tea (and sometimes, low tea). If you find yourself invited to a high tea, though, expect a hearty, full-course meal.
Your tea party, however, can be whatever you want it to be.
You can choose traditional English tea foods or create a menu based on foods from another culture. You can have a formal gathering complete with sherry or champagne, or go for a casual, outdoor get together. There are no rules here, people! Let your own tastes and your tea party theme, if you have one, be your guides.
If you're going to serve a traditional afternoon English tea, have the following on your tea party menu:
Do use all sorts of different sandwich fillings. We have traditional tea sandwich fillings in our menu below.
Do serve plain scones if you want to follow tradition. This means no dried cranberries inside, no chocolate chips, nuts, or icing of any kind. We generally choose not to follow tradition here. The many varieties of scones are just too fabulous to pass up.
Do offer strawberry jam (the traditional choice), although we understand that raspberry is a popular alternative. Some folks like to put lemon curd on their scones. This is definitely not a traditional way to eat them. But what doesn't taste better with a little lemon curd? Hey, go crazy and put all three choices on your tea table.
Do have a bowl of clotted cream for your guests. If you don't know what clotted cream is, you don't know what you're missing! It's somewhat like a cross between unsweetened whipped cream and butter, and it is heavenly. It's available in some specialty food stores and online. It's expensive but definitely worth the price.
Do serve at least two varieties of tea. Depending on your guests, you may also want to have decaffeinated tea on hand. If you know how to make a good pot of tea, then by all means brew several. However, it's fine to serve an assortment of tea bags or sachets for your guests to choose from.
Do put out a pretty dish of sugar cubes for tea (very English). Check out decorated sugar cubes while you're at it. They're a great touch for the table.
For planning purposes, count on each guest having six tea sandwiches (each tea sandwich is one quarter of a full-size sandwich), one scone, and five small dessert servings. Plan on four cups of tea per guest.
If you're planning a theme for your tea party, be creative and design your menu to reflect it.
Keep that theme in mind as you choose your invitations, too. If you can't decide on a theme, perhaps one of these tea party themes and/or menu ideas will inspire you: