Guest blog by celebration specialist Marilee Karamanski | Cha Cha Tea

Guest blog by celebration specialist Marilee Karamanski | Cha Cha Tea

I recently got to sit with Maleah Moskoff of Cha Cha Tea and discuss the juxtaposition of our two businesses, and of course… what makes a great tea party! 
Usually, when you make a lovely cup of tea for yourself or yourself and a friend, it’s all about the sitting and relaxing! Tea does not have to be “fussy”, it just is.
Occasionally, however, one wants more flair! Rather than a quiet cup of tea, you’re looking for a tea party- with emphasis on the “party”. I have some suggestions for three different tea party themes! Having a theme for your gathering will give your guests a much more memorable experience if it’s done well.  You can invite your guests to share more of an experience with you.  It’s a little like stepping into a work of art or into a beautiful story. Entice your guests through all their senses.  Below, I’ll offer some elements for hosting three distinct parties. You’ll get some décor ideas, menus and of course suggestions for the perfect tea to complement each theme!
1.  Elegant Garden Tea Party

This is an understated elegant affair.  Inspired by the traditional Afternoon Tea in the British tradition.

Start with the anticipation and the tactile pleasure of Inviting your guests using floral or doily Stationery. Before they arrive, set the stage. Pull out the crocheted tablecloth.  If you don’t have one, a floral print or a pastel solid that coordinates with your tea set will be perfect.  Play ballet music or Chopin on your CD Player.  Arrange your best garden flowers or market flowers in a more natural/ loose arrangement. This is your opportunity to use your grandmother’s tea set, or that great china tea set you got fort your wedding.
Menu: Choose from some traditional afternoon tea selections.  I always like to combine sweets and savories. Here are some suggestions.  Tea Sandwiches, very small savory sandwiches ranging in flavor from cucumber to sardine, Scones, or Tea Cakes, which may include most any pastry.
Tea
Earl Gray is wonderful and elegant, or Cha Cha’s Breakfast. Malty with notes of chocolate and raisin are both perfect complements for our elegant garden tea party!
2. Asian Tea Party
Invite people with lovely cards printed with Japanese artwork or images of the Japanese tea set.   Set the stage using any of the following: rice paper screens, hanging lanterns, origami or parasols. Decorate your table with a small bonsai tree or lucky bamboo.  Use a lovely Japanese tea pot with handle less cups on a Low table with cushions If you don’t happen to own a traditional low table, you can create one by using a folded up card table or other appropriate size boards put up on blocks. Be sure to give your guests comfortable cushions to sit on!
Menu: Choose an assortment of dim-sum type delicacies like the following: Gyōza  are a very popular dish in Japan. They can be served boiled as pot stickers or even deep-fried. Spring Rolls are like lovely fresh egg rolls- usually served cold or room temperature. Edamame, steamed baby soybeans have a lovely nutty flavor.  Mochi Is a fun dessert.  You can find mochi ice cream in some grocery stores, but click the picture for some recipes!
Tea
Ma-cha is elegant and unique.
Bancha is a green tea that is organic, herbacious, spring like and affordable
My personal favorite tea is Pu-erh
3. Mad Tea Party
This one’s inspired by the mad hatter’s un-birthday tea party in Wonderland.  It’s bright and playful!  Decorations are key here.  The bolder the better.  Use bright colors and giant flowers for the most impact.  Use an image from Alice or a deck of playing cards on your invitations.  Before guests arrive, put on fun wonderland inspired music.  Set the stage with the brightest tablecloth you can find!  A bright solid like fuchsia, lime or turquoise would be great!  If you’ve got a crazy teapot, first make sure it’s food safe by modern standards before you use it.  If you’re not sure, use it in your centerpiece as décor!  After your repast, invite your guests for a game of croquet!
Menu: Create a feast for the eye as well as the tongue with a selection of locally made cupcakes. Make tea sandwiches in the shapes of clubs, hearts, spades and diamonds.  For a whimsical effect add, “eat me” and “drink me” tags to your food and drink!
Tea:
Choose a fun tea like Cha-Cha’s Vanilla Coconut or Red Rooibos.
Once you’ve chosen your theme and planned your party, the most important thing is to remember to relax.  If it’s not done 30 minutes before your guests are due to arrive, let it go.  Your guests will have a lovely time if you are relaxed and you remember to enjoy the people you’ve invited to your table.  If you’d like help pulling it all together, Planned Spontaneity can help!
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