Hospitality @ Home: Tea Service

Ah, tea. More than mere coffee’s aromatic cousin, tea is an event in itself.

And if you are a coffee purist who asserts that decaf shall never cross your lips, herbal teas are a great hot beverage for when your caffeinated heart gets close to bedtime.

From Japan to Ethiopia, Russia to Great Britain, tea is an important part of many culinary traditions. Tea services can be elaborate and intimidating, but the best equipment for a simple tea is what you have on hand.

The most important aspect of tea service to keep in mind is this; Tea is about gathering.

Like the fire was to our ancient ancestors, so the piping hot tea pot at the center of the table is a place for us to arrange ourselves around something warm.

All that is required is hot water, tea leaves, and vessels to sip from. But if you have some sweeteners, cream and some odds and ends of savories and sweets to serve alongside, all the better. You will hardly ever go wrong pairing mild buttery, fruit, or nut flavors with tea. Scones with cranberries or currants are classic with an afternoon tea for good reason.

Tea as an event is a great idea if you are cash strapped and still hoping to entertain; because tea is generally in the afternoon, or presented as bit of a diversion between or after meals. To host a tea, you need not prepare an elaborate affair. With a quick tart or clafoutis on the table and a simple tea service, you will be the consummate host for any guest who pops by.

Generally, I fill a glass teapot (because that is what I have) with boiling water, and prepare a tray with an assortment of bagged tea, lemon wedges, cream, and sugar (or other sweeteners) so my guests can choose which tea suits them best. I am persnickety, so I arrange my teas from highest caffeine level to the lowest so it is easy to find when pulling a packet for a guest!

A simple tea service is an excellent alternative to a glass of wine for those teetotaling times.

I hope you gather around a cuppa today!

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