A Buffet Style Tea Party

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It is very simple to have a buffet tea at home.

When planning your floral arrangements and décor be mindful to choose scents that will not cause reactions to your guests.  The flowers and decor are meant to complement your tea setting, not overpower the guests, nor interfere with the taste of the foods.

While a white linen tablecloth with matching 12-inch napkins is traditional, in our contemporary world it is also appropriate to use whimsical cloths of various materials and designs.

Set up opposite ends of the table with the teacups and saucers, teaspoons, plates, napkins, and the enhancers of sugar cubes, milk, honey and lemon slices.

One end of the table will serve the hot tea.  If room allows, serve one blend each, decanted, of a black, green or oolong and herbal infusion.  By serving the tea decanted there will be no need for tea strainers or slop bowls to remove the discarded tea leaves. The other end of the table will serve the hot coffee, with sugar cubes and milk/cream.  Again, if room allows, offer your guests both regular and decaffeinated coffee.

On a side table have pitchers of cold water as well as brewed iced tea with tall, iced tea glasses.

In the middle, on one side of the table, have serving trays, each containing a different type of savory and finger sandwich, crusts off.

Balance the menu with no two breads or fillings duplicating one another.  And for goodness sake, if you are a Southerner, do not forget the deviled egg tray!

In the middle, on the other side of the table, have serving trays, each containing a different type of finger/bite size sweets.  Lemon pound cake and brownies may be cut into bite-size servings.

On either a side table or next to your savory trays, set up baskets of mini, bite-size, scones, muffins and slice-finger style fruit breads.  You may also include cheese sticks.  Place bowls of clotted cream or Devonshire cream and jam, with small serving spoons, and bowls of large strawberries adjacent to the breads and scones.

Place coordinating service pieces next to or near the trays.

You may use place cards on the tables to identify each item and tea served.

Sherry, port, and Champagne, if desired, may be served on trays or passed by the wait staff.

Alternatives to a long table may be to set up various smaller tables with stations of items to be served.

Remember to keep the menu simple with easy to pick up “finger foods” that do not require utensils.  However, pre plated full-size slices of cake may be served, preferably with a pastry fork.

Guests may sit at tables both informally or with designated seating; or stand reception style.

A buffet tea needn’t be expensive, nor time consuming to prepare.  There are many marvelous sources available by mail order and in your local supermarkets.  All it takes for one to create a beautiful buffet tea party is imagination and a good guest list.

More tea inspiration:

Ginger Mint and Honey Lavender Teas

A Proper Afternoon Tea

©Ellen Easton


  • Ellen Easton

    Ellen Easton, author of Afternoon Tea~Tips, Terms and Traditions(RED WAGON PRESS), an afternoon tea authority, lifestyle and etiquette industry leader, keynote speaker and product spokesperson, is a hospitality, design, and retail consultant whose clients have included the Waldorf=Astoria, the Plaza and Bergdorf Goodman. Easton’s family traces their tea roots to the early 1800s, when ancestors first introduced tea plants from India and China to the Colony of Ceylon, thus building one of the largest and best cultivated teas estates on the island.

2 Responses

  1. Mercedes Serralles says:

    Opulent festive buffet! Very inviting and varied
    who would resist food fit for Kings! Not me
    Bravo Ellen you did it again…surpass yourself and the rest!⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️👏👏👏💖💖💖🥳

  2. Ellen Easton says:

    Thank you for your kind support. Always appreciated.

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