The Essentials of High Tea

The Essentials of High Tea

My mother is truly a Victorian lady. She may have been born in the wrong era, but she has done her best to bring the class and sophistication of that age to modern society and instilled it in her four daughters. One of my mom’s long time favorite “ceremonies” is that of high tea. Since I was a young girl, I have been adorning (sometimes matching) frilly frocks and bonnets, and I have been sipping afternoon tea.

I now consider myself {somewhat} of a connoisseur of this practice as I have sipped high tea all over the world thanks to my upbringing. Truth be told I have never had a cup of coffee, but I have had my fair share of tea.

All that being said, for an early Mother’s Day this year I took my mom to high tea here in Fort Worth. I had read that the Ashton Hotel downtown was offering it now so I was dying to check it out and could not go without my lovely mother and my sister, Carol. As a heads up, the high tea service is only offered on Saturday afternoons and advanced reservations are required.

We started our tea experience with a crisp glass of champagne and a small serving of split pea soup. The second course was brought out on a traditional three-tiered tower and consisted of artisan tea sandwiches, mini salmon croquettes and more. The third course was a sampling of desserts and  strawberry scones, all of which were delightful. Keeping in the traditional fashion the scones were served with clotted cream, lemon curd and jam…much to my mom’s pleasure. The room itself was quite elegant and they used real china for each place setting. Also, each of us received our own teapot with our tea of choice so refills were abundant. The room was filled with joy with women singing to each other (yes, actually singing) and just genuinely celebrating life. All three of us had a great experience and would highly recommend it.


However, you do not have to go out to have an elegant high tea locally.  Throwing a high tea at home can be a great women’s gathering for a wedding, baby shower, birthday or even just as an excuse to get together.

I threw my mom a hightea luncheon last November for her birthday with my sisters, nieces and my aunts. Here are some highlights below and I have shared some tips along with my menu as well!


For the invite I just used a simple Paperless Post since this was a small get together, but I did print out a copy and frame it for the party. (Address has been removed hence the blank space below).


This was in early November so I incorporated some natural fall elements for the decor. I hollowed out white and light green pumpkins for the main floral arrangements. Then I collected large leaves and spray painted them gold and wrote on them in calligraphy for the place cards. I tried to write directly on the leaf unsuccessfully, so I used eggshell paper and attached it with fun washi tape. I also set up a cold drink station and hung images of my mom from throughout the years as seen above.

Next I incorporated some “tea party” elements by using a teapot and a cup and saucer for extra floral highlights. I also hand wrote a quote and placed it in a frame for an added sentiment. If you cannot see the text in the picture below, it reads “There are few hours more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea” – Henry James, Portrait of a Lady.

With the extra flowers I had left over from making the arrangements I set up a Flower Crown station on my bar cart and put out floral wire, floral tape, scissors and basic instructions. This was mostly for the younger girls, my nieces, and they loved it!

For Party Favors I placed loose leaf teas in small square plastic containers then used washi tape to “wrap” them and made printed labels from an Avery template. I tied them together with twine and attached a loose leaf tea sifter. For the children, I used the same containers, but just placed candy inside instead and printed their names on the labels.

Lastly, the food! Here was my menu for the party:

  • Homeade Vegetable Soup
  • Tea Sandwiches: Pimento Cheese, Cucumber Cream Cheese and Egg Salad
  • Mini Croissant Chicken Salad Sandwiches (See Recipe Here)
  • Pasta Salad
  • Fruit Salad
  • Banana Bread
  • Scones with clotted cream, lemon curd and jam
  • Meyer Lemon Pots de Crème (See Recipe Here)
  • Custom Macarons (I ordered these from We the Birds in Dallas)

This made for a wonderful spread and fabulous party. Here are a few last tips:

  • Parties are so much more enjoyable when you plan ahead and do the prep work in advance. I made the place cards and the party favors weeks before the party. The day before I went ahead and set the table, prepped most of the food and started on the floral. You want everything to be finished and in order when guests arrive so that everyone (hostess included) can relax. The hostess’s mood really sets the tone for the party. You want to be relaxed and welcoming so that you can greet and entertain your guests.
  • For the tea itself, I set out an assortment of tea bags and had hot water in a tea pot so that guests could chose their tea of choice. Lemons, cream and sugar cubes were placed on the table. Here are links to a few of my personal favorite teas:
  • If you have fine china, I highly recommend using it. It just gives the party a more elegant feel.
  • When in doubt wear hats! This is a fun added element to any tea party.

Please share your favorite high tea experiences and party tips below. I would love to hear from you!

2 thoughts on “The Essentials of High Tea”

  • I love this post! What a fun character detail that you’ve never enjoyed a cup of coffee! The most lavish, elegant high tea I’ve ever experienced was in London, at the Savoy hotel. I was there on a business trip with my husband, and I splurged for afternoon tea while he was in a meeting. A pianist played sweetly while I sat beneath an intricate gazebo, breathing in the aroma of fresh flowers. The server brought me course after course of gluten-free delicacies, including GF scones with authentic clotted cream! It was extravagant and beautiful, but I was teary-eyed, wishing for a companion like you or Mama to share the joy.

  • Love this! But for those that may not know… what does “high tea” actually mean? It happens at noon? And for the essentials: tea, finger sandwiches, perhaps soup, something sweet? Did I get it? The three-tier presentation, I have a couple of those.. I think I can do this!

    And lastly, you’ve never had a cup of coffee??

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