I love tea time.
When I was studying in Oxford, we had a break between classes every day at 10AM and we’d all head to the dining hall for tea and cookies. It was fantastic because we’d have a chance to catch up with each other or just sit for a minute and take a breath. Since then, I’ve been something of a tea addict.
Taking a tea break with your kids doesn’t have to be an elaborate thing. Simply sitting down with something warm and a couple of biscuits is a nice way to catch up. That being said, I’m a huge fan of doing a full afternoon tea and it’s become a ritual we indulge in a couple of times a week.
Tea time is a hit with kids because it gives them a chance to participate in something grown up and (at least in our house) it’s an excuse to sneak a little sugar into the day. Eva is all about doing things correctly in the right order so she’s become a tiny pro at pouring tea. It’s also been a great way to practice things like table manners, simple recipes, and polite conversation.
Setting up an afternoon tea isn’t hard. I put together a mismatched tea service from things I found at TJ Maxx, ordered a few kinds of caffeine-free herbal tea, and I now keep things like sugar cubes and cream in the house all the time. For our snacks, it’s often nothing fancier than boxed cookies and fresh fruit but we also do simple cream cheese sandwiches and the occasional tray of hot scones.
If you’re going to hold an afternoon tea with your kids, here are some things to keep in mind:
/// a tea service usually consists of a tea pot, teacups with saucers, tea spoons, a creamer, a sugar bowl, and cloth napkins. You can also add a jar of honey, a plate of lemons with a lemon fork, a strainer for loose tea, and a tiered serving platter for tea snacks.
/// set the scene with a simple white tablecloth (yay, bleach!), classical music, and some fresh flowers
/// follow proper tea protocal. Guests should wait for the hostess to sit down, unfold her napkin, and place it in her lap. (Eva and I take turns being the hostess.) Add sugar or honey before you add milk and be sure to stir quietly. If you’re having lemon, slice it in thin round circles so nobody is tempted to spritz it all over the table and never suck on the rinds. (Don’t forget not to mix milk and lemon – it will curdle!)
/// take small bites, maintain good posture, and never talk over someone else. If one of the guests insists on throwing his fruit on the floor (*cough* Calvin *cough*), pretend he’s not there. Be sure to thank the hostess when you’re done!