Beautiful Tea Table Setting Part II
Next, make sure the basic utensils for your tea table setting are clean and readily available. You’ll want to start out with these basic utensils:
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Vessel to Serve/Store your Tea In. For our imaginary “Renaissance Tea” I would probably choose an antique silver plated teapot, like this one, to complement the rest of the theme. Here are some other options to think about for your tea table setting:
Teapot(s) – see the following section/discussion on choosing the right teapot to use with the different types of tea.
Thermos/Carafe – a nice option for a picnic/tail party or where you need the tea to stay warm for a longer time.
Ice Tea Pitcher – usually one of these will serve most occasions.
Samovar – an ornate devise that is part urn and part teapot. Most often used with a Turkish Tea or Russian. This is more of a specialty item, than an everyday essential. But one is nice to have if you are serving a large crowd!
Glass Beverage Server with Spigot – a newer selection of these have come on the market in the last few years. But they aren’t cheap, so look for sales or pick one up at a garage sale. These work especially well for serving Ice Tea
Vessels to Drink Tea From. After choosing your vessel to serve your tea in, you’ll naturally need to turn to picking an appropriate vessel to drink your tea from. For our example of a “Renaissance Tea” I would probably choose bone china teacups, with a more decorative transfer-ware pattern.
And all the teacups wouldn’t have to match. There is nothing wrong with mixing-and-matching patterns, as long as there is some consistence in the color and pattern in the tea table setting.
Nor does this have to be expense. Planning a tea party is a perfect opportunity to go to the flea market or local garage/estate/yard sales to pick up some inexpensive pieces for your tea table setting.
Teacups – while the most obvious choice, teacups can be inexpensive additions to your tea table setting. You may have a set that you inherited or that were handed down to you, or they maybe a mixed-matched collection you’ve put together from your travels.
This last suggestion is where the majority of my tea cup collection has evolved. I try to pick up a tea cup or teapot as a souvenir from the different places I’ve traveled on vacation. I know it is something I’ll use, and I have such lovely memories of scouting out each piece and stories to relay of the trip.
Of course, not all my tea cups that I’ve picked up on my travels, are expensive. One of my favorite tips & tricks is to go to a Good Will store or flea market in the places I’m visiting, and scour through the hidden treasures to find just the perfect gem of a piece.
One of my favorite places to do this is in Cloud Croft, New Mexico at The House of Treasures; part antique store and part resale boutique. It’s a very unique shop and I always come away with a prized treasure to add to my collection! Of course, this can be addictive, and one must practice control, or things can get way out of hand!
Glasses – this can run the gambit, from fine crystal to every day fruit/canning jars! You are really only limited by your imagination and pocket book. Glasses are mainly used in Ice Tea table setting.
Mugs – a distant rugged country cousin to the tea cup, a mug is especially pleasant to use in the winter, when you can wrap your hands around it’s perimeter, where it does double duty as a hand warmer!
Mugs come in a variety of materials, but clay/porcelain are the primary ones. They are best used in more rustic situations, like an autumn picnic or tail-gate party – for sipping warm spiced tea.
Paper/Plastic Cups – while not my first choice to reach for when planning a tea table setting; they can have their place in your repertoire. Think about a casual outdoor setting, or one where you would be serving a large crowd, where using other types of drinking vessels wouldn’t make logistical sense.
Plates and Items to Serve Food On
Lunch Plates – glass, porcelain, plastic or paper. Name your material. I normally chose a lunch plate or salad plate, versus a dinner size plate for use in my tea party table settling. The reason being, that most afternoon tea parties serve smaller portions.
Serving Trays – it’s a good idea to have several different sizes, shapes and materials of serving trays (i.e., metal, such as sterling silver or wood, or melamine/acrylic-resin).
Tiered Serving Trays – here is the one place you may want to splurge, and purchase a sterling silver/silver plated three-tier tray. There are also ones made from metal and out of china plates.
Here is a wonderful demonstration of how to make a tiered serving tray, from some china plates that can come from your cupboards or inexpensive pieces you pick up at a tag sale.
Chargers – can do double duty in a lot of situations. They can serve as their obvious intentions (as a protective, decorative piece under a hot plate) or they can be put to use as a serving platter or tray. Again, use your imagination.
Chargers are typically fairly inexpensive, but don’t forget to check them out at craft and hobby stores, or your favorite house-wares’ store for close out sales at the end of the season.
Utensils. After your glasses and plates, you definitely want to make sure your utensils are clean and gleaming. Nothing is so unappealing as picking up a fork to find dry left-over food particles stuck to a tine or a smudged knife surface. Ugh! Let’s don’t even go there! Needless to say, make sure your utensils are clean before setting them out on a table.
- Tongs for the sugar
- Tongs to serve the food
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