"If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are too heated, it will cool you.
If you are depressed, it will cheer you. If you are excited, it will calm you." William Gladstone

Porcelain or silver Teapot
Porcelain Teacups and saucers
Dessert Plates
Linen and matching napkins
Sugar tongs
Serving spoons, Knives, Teaspoons
Tea Strainer (or mesh or teaball)
Tea Cozy
Scones and/or crumpets
Strawberry jam and/or lemon curd
  Clotted Cream
Sugar, Milk, Lemon slices
Assam and/or Earl Grey Tea
Fresh flowers
Music (Chopin, Liszt, or Schubert would be nice)
Roaring fire in Fall or Winter, if possible

Brew the tea by bringing fresh water to a rolling boil in a kettle. Bring a teapot, warmed by rinsing with hot water, to the kettle. Immediately take the kettle off the heat as soon as water boils and pour the hot water into the pot. Into the pot, place 1 tsp of leaves for each cup (6 oz) plus one "for the pot." Alternatively, put leaves into a mesh basket or teaball and infuse this way (there must be room enough inside the mesh or teaball for the tea leaves to double in size). Steep a black tea for 5 or so minutes. The person who "is mother" (the one who is to pour the tea) should pour into cups through a strainer if mesh or a teaball isn't used. Serve with milk (never cream), sugar cubes, and lemon slices. 4:00 in the afternoon is the standard time for a "afternoon tea" or "low tea". If you have a three-tiered server, put the sandwiches on the bottom, the crumpets or scones in the middle tier, and any dessert-like foods (cakes, cookies/biscuits, tarts, etc.) at the top.

Note: Freezing the bread before making tea sandwiches makes them easier to slice (give to the birds the crusts you remove from sandwiches!). Make any sandwiches as close to serving time as possible. Keep covered with saran wrap topped with a moist tea towel before serving.

For a Cream Tea, serve some of the following:

Lemon Curd

1/3 c. + 2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
1 large egg + 2 egg yolks
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 TBSP cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Whisk together everything but the butter in top of double boiler til light and fluffly. Then cook over simmering water, stirring frequently, for 12-15 minutes or til it thickens to pudding consistency and coats a spoon. Strain, if desired. Now gradually stir in butter til it's melted and mixture is smooth. It should have the consistency of a heavy pudding or sour cream and be spreadable, not soupy.

Clotted Cream

Heat oven to 170oF. Pour 2 pints of heavy cream "(double cream" or "whipping cream" that has a fat content between 36% to 40%) that is NOT ultra-pasteurized into a glass or ceramic 8x8 or 9x9 pan (the cream shouldn't be over 2 inches deep in the pan). Put pan of cream inside the oven, close the door, and leave it for 12 hours. Take out, let cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap, and then put in fridge to chill for 12 hours. Scrape off the skin (that's the clotted cream), pouring off the liquid (which can be used in coffee, desserts, etc. as one uses milk). Stir up' til smooth. Keeps a week in the fridge.

Quickie Mock Clotted Cream
...if you can't get or have time to make the real thing...

3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 pinch salt
1 cup heavy cream

Beat cream cheese, sugar, and salt in a bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Add heavy cream and beat until stiff peaks form. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve (eat quickly; it doesn't keep).

Shaped Sugar "Cubes"

1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. water
drop or two of food coloring, if desired

Put everything in a jar with a tight lid and shake til it's all evenly distributed. Pack the sugar firmly into candy molds of various shapes, some in "1-lump" size, and some in "2-lump" size. Let dry out for 24 hours or, if it's very humid, turn on your oven to 175, then turn it off and leave the molds inside overnight. If you want, just for looks, decorate a few using pastry bags of colored icings you would use for cake decorations.


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup butter, (1 stick), frozen
cream for brushing

Mix the first four ingredients.

In another bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla, heavy cream, and sour cream.

Get butter out of freezer and use a cheese grater or pastry cutter to cut it into the dry ingredients. Don't overmix! You want pea-sized chunks.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Knead a few times by folding the dough on top of itself, creating more and more layers until it has come together and the wet and dry ingredients are well incorporated  (again, don't overmix!). Shape dough into an 8" circle. Slice the circle in half across its diameter, then cut each half into 3 triangles. Put into the freezer for 30 minutes. Heat oven to 400F. When the oven's hot, take dough triangles out of freezer, place onto a parchment-lined sheet, and brush the tops with cream. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn oven down to 375F and bake for 8 to 15 minutes more until golden (keep an eye on them so they don't overbake).

Blueberry Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled), plus more for hands and work surface
1/2 cup  granulated sugar
2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen
1/2 cup heavy cream (plus 2 Tbsp for brushing)
1 large egg
1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 heaping cup fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw)
coarse sugar for topping, optional

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl. Grate the frozen butter using a box grater. Add it to the flour mixture and combine with a pastry cutter, two forks, or your fingers until the mixture comes together in pea-sized crumbs. Place in the refrigerator or freezer as you mix the wet ingredients together.

Whisk 1/2 cup heavy cream, the egg, and vanilla extract together in a small bowl. Drizzle over the flour mixture, add the blueberries, then mix together until everything appears moistened.

Pour onto the counter and, with floured hands, work dough into a ball as best you can. Dough will be sticky. If it’s too sticky, add a little more flour. If it seems too dry, add 1-2 more Tablespoons heavy cream. Press into an 8-inch disc and, with a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut into 8 wedges.

Brush scones with remaining heavy cream (and sprinkle with coarse sugar if desired). Preheat oven to 400, and meanwhile, place scones 2 or 3 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. Bake for 22-25 minutes.

Crumpets (makes 24)

2 pkgs (1/2 oz) dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
3 1/2 c. warm water
2 TBSP baking powder
4 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Dissolve yeast and sugar in the water. Add everything else and whisk til frothy. Heat griddle to 450 degrees. Grease the insides of crumpet rings (if you don't have any, you can use empty tuna cans that have been opened on both sides) and place on griddle. Pour 3/4 c. batter in each ring and cook til bubbles form (like pancakes). Remove ring and turn over to cook other side. Toast and serve with butter, and jam or lemon curd.

For an Afternoon Low Tea, add something savory:

Cucumber Sandwiches
Makes 32 pieces, equivalent to 8 regular-sized sandwiches

1 peeled, seedless cucumber
4 1/2 oz. unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp. orange zest
16 slices of firm, thin-sliced white bread, crusts removed
Garnish: fresh mint leaves and thin orange slices

Cut cucumber in in half lengthways, then slice crossways as thinly as possible. In a small bowl, mix the butter and orange zest and stir until creamy. Spread each slice of white bread with about 1 teaspoons of the butter mixture. Arrange several slices of cucumber on half of the bread, then top with the remaining slices. Cut each sandwich into 4 triangles. To serve, arrange the sandwiches on a platter, alternating white and brown sides of the sandwiches and garnish with mint sprigs and orange slices.

Cream Cheese, Olive, and Nut Sandwiches

6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 cup chopped green olives with pimientos
2 tablespoons olive brine from the olive jar
1 dash pepper

Mix together, then let it sit for an hour so the flavors meld. Spread on thin bread, remove crusts, and cut diagonally into triangles or into strips or squares to serve. Can also serve with crackers or use it to stuff celery.

Egg Mayonnaise Sandwiches

8 medium slices of bread, crusts removed
6 eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 TBSP minced chives
2 TBSP minced celery
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
1 tsp dill pickle juice or 1 tsp dill
1/4 tsp pepper (preferably white pepper)

Place the eggs in a saucepan and cover with water. Season with a pinch of salt. Place the pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes. Turn heat down to very, very low and cover with a lid. Allow the eggs to sit for 10 minutes. Drain and cool the eggs for 2 minutes in ice water. Drain and peel the eggs.

Remove yolks from eggs and chop the whites up to whatever texture you like (some like it chunky, others like it very fine).  Mash the yolks and add to the whites along with everything else (but the bread, obviously). Spread on the bread and cut into triangles.

Tomato Twiddle Sandwiches

2 fresh tomatoes
1/2 lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded, approximately
1/4 cup chopped white onion

Cut an X on the bottom of the tomatoes just deep enough to pierce the skin. Place in a pot of boiling water for 2-3 minutes until the skin starts to curl where it's been cut. Remove from water and cool, then peel, halve, and remove the seeds. Add the now seedless tomatoes, cheese, and onion to a food processor or blender and mix until pureed, adding more cheese if the mixture is too thin. Use to make sandwiches, remove crusts, and cut into shapes as desired. (Recipe from Serene Herrera)

Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 ounces smoked salmon pieces, diced fine
Squirt of fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoon minced fresh chives
2 tablespoon minced fresh dill or parsley
8 slices soft whole wheat or rye sandwich bread

Mix together the cream cheese, salmon, lemon juice, chives and parsley. Spread on the bread, remove crusts, and cut into desired shapes.

Watercress Tea Sandwiches

2 bunches of fresh watercress, stems removed, rinsed, blotted dry
salted butter, at room temperature
16 thin slices of bread (wheat or white)
sea salt and fresh pepper as needed

Spread all of the bread thickly with butter. Top half of the bread with the watercress. Salt and pepper as you wish. Top with the rest of the bread slices. Cut into desired shapes.

Benedictine Sandwiches

2 English cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 TBSP minced white onion
1 - 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp dried dill
1 dash hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco), or to taste
1 drop or two of green food coloring (optional)
cayenne pepper, to taste

Very finely chop or grate the cucumber (can use a food processor for this). Place the cucumber and the onion in cheesecloth and wring to remove as much moisture as possible -- but reserive the liquid you wring out. Mix the cucumber-onion mixture with everything else 'til smooth. If it's too thick, add a little of the reserved liquid you wrang out from the cheesecloth. Spread onto bread, top with another slice of bread, and cut into shapes.