Afternoon Tea | April 1, 2016 | Lifestyle
evening tea parties at the bottom of the garden
Taking tea is so much a part of the English consciousness, we sometimes forget to question the conventions we place around it.
Why not push teatime back to twilight, serving it among a soft hint of wind, shadows thrown from trees and the blissful glow of dusk? Or if the weather isn’t kind, light the lamps and create the same bohemian atmosphere indoors.
Choose simple table linens, perhaps serving bruschetta on wooden boards and save the indulgence for a huge pile of throws – such as Zara Home’s grey faux-fur blanket – for guests to snuggle into with a cup and saucer.
Forget elaborate flowers. Instead, create a loose, wild table arrangement of foliage for that moody midsummer night’s dream feel: from big mossy branches and feathery ferns to delicate Queen Anne’s lace and full-blown peonies.
No garden party is complete without twinkling fairy lights. These extra long fairy lights by The White Company instantly set a warm, inviting mood when wrapped around trees, strung along fences or even placed in jars.
Combine tiny firefly-style sparkles with hanging lanterns and plenty of candles – tea lights, floating votives, pillars – and crowd them in groups on the table. Avoid scented candles as these will interfere with the aroma of tea and food.
Loose tea offers a robust flavour often compromised with bags. As with wine, tea can be flavour-matched with specific foods to enliven the senses.
Green tea, with its subtle flavour, goes best with mild foods such as seafood, fish or chicken; while the strong earthiness of a Puerh pairs beautifully with a stir-fry.
For a more unusual twilight tea, try Mighty Leaf Teas Bleu Peacock: a complex depth of subtle and sweet with notes of citrus that pair well with meat, seafood and even chocolate.
If you’re not one for loose leaves, La Via Del Te offer a fascinating Tea Travels selection box: a combination of six teas inspired by ancient rites and traditions all over the world. The black, green, oolong and rooibos are each spiced with global ingredients and packed alongside a map-printed box.
For a tea party with a difference, opt for nibbles with creative spark.
Cheese and wine fans will be delighted to learn more about tea and cheese pairings. Believe it or not, tea works with cheese just as well and when paired properly, the two can even bring out an elusive third flavour.
Think creamy blue cheese smothered over a warm baguette, eaten with an equally smooth, slightly smoky, black tea.
Hemsley and Hemsley’s chicory boats with blue stilton, pear and cranberry jam would also work well with an elegant black tea, while giving the party a pink pop of colour.
Simple mouthfuls such as smoked salmon blinis can be paired with green and jasmine teas. You can even combine the flavours in one dish, such as this cider-chai crock pot pulled pork recipe from The Roasted Root.
Of course, no tea party is complete without a sweet treat. While baking with members of the squash family is usually reserved for pumpkin pie, BBC Good Food’s frosted courgette and lemon cake creates a moist sponge that teams well with the tang of an Earl Grey.