Hosting a high tea doesn’t have to be overwhelming nor does it have to be a posh or expensive affair. You can create the ambience you want to with a bit of creativity, great food, and a curated selection of premium or loose leaf teas. Choose a selection of black tea, green tea, and organic herbal teas so that you have a good variety for your guests. There are so many amazing organic and ethically sourced tea brands on the market today to choose from, and you’ll want to be sure to offer the best to your guests.
I had the opportunity to speak with Diana Robinson, owner of the Cookstown Antique Market, about her inspiration for this vintage-inspired High Tea. Diana shares her tips on how to set a table for High Tea, what you need to include, and what to serve as well as how to create an eclectic vintage inspired table that will surprise and delight your guests.
Tips on setting a table for High Tea.
Always make the table décor a reflection of your personality. Not only will you feel comfortable, but so will your guests. Seasonal themes are great for gatherings to celebrate special events or the holiday season.
Set the food platters on your table and incorporate them into the overall table design. Plus, we don’t really want the scones and treats too far out of our reach… right?
Always, always, always include fresh flowers in your High Tea table design, or honestly, for that matter, fresh flowers are always a good choice for any occasion. Flowers add so much to any table setting.
Nothing says elegance like a fresh in season bouquet. I chose to ‘pop’ my table by using yellow roses with dark green foliage. It was a beautiful contrast. – Diana Robinson, Cookstown Antique Market
You may want to also include some scent-free candles on your table as well. Choose candelabras or candle holders that compliment your style. These could be crystal, silver, gold, pewter, or glass. Candles always add so much ambience to any table setting.
Make your High Tea even more memorable by including a take home gift for each of your guests. Diana suggests placing this small gift with each table setting. The gift is a wonderful way to thank your guests. If you want to really wow your guests, make something that is tea inspired or that embodies the feeling of the High Tea so that they’ll remember it. Diana created a signature candle combining Earl Grey and Green Apple scents for her vintage inspired High Tea.
You can find small boxes or containers to package your take home gift and create a custom Thank You sticker or tag for the box. Another great and eco-friendly idea is to wrap your gift in burlap or an organic linen, tie a pretty ribbon and attach a handmade gift tag. Placing the guests favours at their table setting ensures that everyone takes home a gift.
How to create an eclectic vintage inspired table for High Tea.
The key to creating a unique vintage table is to pull many elements together. Colour, pattern, and style come together beautifully by accenting the different details in each cup and the unique patterns on the plates. Choose tea cups and saucers that are all unique, crystal and glassware of varying size and cut, and then sprinkle in extra vintage pieces that add interest to the overall table design.
The best way to build a foundation for your vintage table is to use what you already have and then build on it. Use items that are special to you, or make your heart skip a beat…it will be sure to make the guests you invite feel the same way. – Diana Robinson, Cookstown Antique Market
Diana also recommends to use colours that you love. There are absolutely endless possibilities of patterns and combinations that you can create when using vintage plates and dishes. Add colour with pops of florals, greenery, and of course the serving dishes, tea cups and saucers, and plates. An antique white linen table cloth and napkins were used which is a neutral backdrop to the colourful and patterned dishes.
Adding in vintage black and white photographs to your table design is also another way to create an eclectic vintage-inspired table for High Tea. The black and white photograph that Diana used in her table design is a portrait of a woman and her husband whom Diana had met when she purchased her vintage silverware. The woman, Beth, had inherited two sets of cutlery which were a wedding gift to her parents who had met during WWII and were married just after the war had ended. The silverware gracing this gorgeous vintage table has a pattern named ‘First Love’. Diana knew that this was the perfect fit for the theme of her table. She placed their story along with their photo for the guests to read, ponder, and reflect.
Once you have gone through what you already own and chosen pieces for your vintage table design, you can find tiered serving plates in antique, vintage, and thrift shops to include in your design. Price points will always depend on their age and make.
Diana served four types of tea for her guests to try. She included a unique teapot for each flavour of tea. She always recommends choosing a high quality organic tea. Her two main teas were a black tea, Assam Banaspaty, and a Rooibos Earl Grey tea. She also served two seasonal flavours of herbal teas.
The menu for this vintage-inspired High Tea was prepared and catered by Cravings Fine Foods. You can definitely create your own menu, but hiring a caterer who can bring your vision into the menu is always a great decision.
The menu featured savoury sandwiches including cucumber & herbed cream cheese on rye, curried chicken salad on sesame crusted whole wheat bread, mini roast beef with horseradish aioli, arugula & caramelized onion on mini milk bun, prosciutto, provolone & arugula pinwheel, and mini brie and leek quiche.
Citrus scones with clotted cream & strawberry preserve were a definite hit with the guests. Jewelled fruit skewers with dragon fruit, strawberries, and kiwi were also served.
An interesting and fun fact for you: These are the same sandwiches that were served to Princess Anne when she visited in 2014.
The teas were purchased from the Blue Mountain Tea Company which is located in historic downtown Collingwood, Ontario. I’m sharing Diana’s notes on the teas from her menu.
Assam Banaspaty Organic FTGFOP
For the ‘purists’ in the group you’ll know that the more letters before the Orange Pekoe…the higher the grade. A distinct yet gentle, full mouth, cream finish shone through with this Assam. It’s stylish leaf and consistent colour make it one of the best examples of pure Assam TGFOP.
Rooibos Earl Grey
Love Earl Grey but not the caffeine? You’re in luck…you’ll get the Bergamot flavour (which is what create an Earl Grey) mixed with Rooibos, a plant from South Africa that has more antioxidants than Green Tea and is great for digestion.
Kolapore Maple Nut
Our blender worked hard to recreate the buttery lushness of maple syrup in a cup of tea. He’s done it with an organic maple extract that closely mirrors that syrupy taste. Add in some almonds with organic black tea and you’ve got the taste of Canada in a cup.
Bergamot Mint Soother
With an even split between peppermint and spearmint and a generous helping of cold pressed Bergamot oil, we’ve put together a sophisticated blend that will leave you feeling tingly from your head to your toes.
Have you hosted a High Tea before? Share with us in the comments below what you love best about this vintage-inspired High Tea.
HEY THERE, I’M JEN
I’m a photographer, creative director, and brand consultant. I help entrepreneurs and businesses shine by creating images for their brand that will beautifully tell their brand story. I create art for your business, your life, and your home.
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