High tea is a classic entertaining event often used to celebrate special occasions or milestones.

But, instead of going to a hotel, cafe or restaurant, why not re-create the elegance and sense of tradition at home? You don’t have to be a gourmet to create a simple menu and can probably make use of a lot of dinnerware you already have on hand. High tea at home is a fun, stress-free way to host a get-together for Mother’s Day.

Tea Confusion?

In Britain, high tea refers to a late evening meal that usually includes meat and fish dishes. A British-style afternon tea, served earlier in the day, is actually more on par with what we in North America mistakenly call high tea–small pastries and sandwiches complemented with accompanying teas.

Preparing Your Tea

It wouldn’t be high tea if you didn’t take the time to properly prep and serve the beverage of honour. To "prepare" your teapot bring a kettle of water to a rolling boil, pour a little into the pot and then pour it away. Next, add your tea and fill the teapot with hot water. Allow it to steep for several minutes.

Try a selection of different teas to last you throughout the event. Black teas include Earl Grey, Darjeeling, English Breakfast and Orange Pekoe. Oolong teas include Formosa/China Oolong and Formosa/China Pouchong, while Jasmine and Gunpower are examples of green teas.

In addition to your tea, provide granular sugar or sugar cubes, thin slices of lemon, cream in a creamer, strawberry jam and clotted cream (for the scones) and good-quality honey.

Easy Menu Ideas

When most people think of a high tea menu, they automatically get visions of little cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off. This is a classic tea treat, but whatever your choose, make sure your meal ideas are easy to handle and eat. Traditional dishes include scones and small tarts, finger sandwhiches and small biscuits. If time permits, try these easy-make recipes below (but if time doesn’t permit try the local bakery or market instead!):

Mini Ham Scones

Avocado Sandwich on Raisin Bread

Luncheon Sandwich Torte

Chicken Sandwich with Curried Mayonnaise

Pecan Scones

Smoked Salmon Wrapped Breadsticks

Berries on a Cloud

Maple Shortbread

Lemon Cream Tart

Ham Mini Scones

Don’t Forget the Music!

Finish the mood with the perfect playlist. Here are some album ideas perfect for the event:

Tchaikovsky at Tea Time: A Refreshing Blend for Body and Spirit

Yesterday’s Love Songs/Today’s Blues (Nancy Wilson)

A Better Place (Julie Crochetiere)

Twentysomething (Jamie Callum)

Corinne Bailey Rae (Corinne Bailey Rae)