Thursday, June 10, 2010

Relief Society High Tea

Every year, at the beginning of the summer, our Relief Society hosts a garden party of some sort. A few years ago, we had it at my house and the focus was on herbs.
This year, Heather and I decided to organize a High "Herbal" Tea...

In doing my research to make this an official "tea", I found out some interesting facts:
1. A High Tea is actually another word the British call dinner. During the Industrial Revolution, exhausted working families returning home from work would set the table with meats, bread, butter, cheese, pickles and tea. There were no dainty finger sandwiches, pastries or scones. Because this tea was taken at a dining table (high table) rather than a coffee or low table, it began to be called "high" tea.
2. Tea Time was created by Anna Maria, the seventh Duchess of Bedford (1783-1857). Now that customs had changed and the noon meal was getting smaller and smaller, the Duchess suffered from hunger and a lack of energy around four in the afternoon. Although in the beginning the duchess would have her servants sneak her a pot of tea and some breadstuffs, she eventually invited friends to join her for an additional afternoon meal at five o'clock in her rooms at Belvoir Castle. The menu centered around simple foods including small cakes, bread and butter sandwiches, assorted sweets and tea. This practice became so popular that the Duchess continued the practice by sending her friends cards asking them to join her for "tea and a walk in the fields". From there, the practice of inviting friends to afternoon tea became a popular practice by hostesses as a social gathering.

We borrowed an assortment of tea pots from various people in the ward and used them for a display...

Each table had a 3 tier stand with and assortment of scones (top layer); savory sandwiches (middle layer)--these included cream cheese/cucumber & watercress, chicken salad, and egg salad; and the sweets (bottom layer) which were cream puffs, lemon herb cookies, shortbread and almond flavored cookies.

Real clotted cream, lemon curd and raspberry jam were on each table as well...

We invited the Young Women to this event and even a few "Young Women in Training" came!
Is that the prettiest dress you ever did see, or what?!

The two Jennys...
(Jenny on the right made the fabulous scones! All 90 of them!! and not one of them was left!--I can't imagine how long she slaved over those!)

In addition to much of my grandmother's fostoria dishes, Roxanna (next to me) let us use her cute tea pots as well as glass platters for serving...
Being able to use real glass and china gave it a really special feel...
I was so glad my mom was feeling better to be here for this...she was such a major help!
That girl's a worker!

We gave everyone about 15 minutes or so to eat and then we started our program...
Rachel Anderson, who used to be one of my Young Women when I served in the Young Women's organization, did a cute presentation on the History of Tea.
Her family currently lives in England, and the sisters in her ward threw her a "Tea" when she graduated from college.
She e-mailed her brother with a list of questions to ask the women in the Billingham, England ward. ("What is your favorite scone recipe?"--"What is the fanciest tea you've ever attended?"
"How has the church adapted to the custom of afternoon tea?"--etc...) P.S. They HATE herbal tea! It was funny to see their reaction when asked if they like it...
Rachel's brother videoed the women responding and it was so cute to hear them explain in their English accents...
Hearing them speak felt like the authentic spice needed to make a recipe go from good to GREAT!

Last year, I asked my mom to be on the lookout for tea cups and saucers. I added that into last year's Relief Society budget so we wouldn't have to worry about it this year. It was so nice to let everyone go home with their own tea cup and saucer. I suggested that they regift it with some fresh flowers in it to a neighbor or friend in case they didn't want to keep it.
Here Heather and I are posing with our teacups after our last hoorah! She will be moving soon...and I just got released from Enrichment Leader and called as Primary Secretary.
She and I have had a blast working on this calling together. It doesn't hurt that she happens to be one of my dearest friends of all times, either...
Have you ever been to an afternoon tea?


  1. wow! those pictures brought back some great memories- that was a super event that everyone seemed to enjoy- we all learned something new and had a feeling of sisterhood with the gals in the ward in england. thanks for including me in all of that

  2. Thank you for sharing! We are having "tea" at camp. Can you send me some recipes for scones? I would love a real English recipe.

  3. i think it is a great idea to skip dinner and fill up on cookies at 4:00! I sort of do that all the time! it looks like a beautiful event. do you ever get tired?

  4. It wasn't as good as being there, but the pictorial review spoke volumes! It seems like my committment schedule and the RS schedule just are doomed to conflict.

    It looks like a good time was had by all, but when did the venue change?! You really did yourself in, girl.


  5. I love this! So sorry I missed it but Matt was graduating! And your flowers look amazing. Lee