It’s your turn to host a get together with your friends, so you want to plan a relaxed afternoon. What’s on the menu? Some of your favorite baked goods, and of course, tasty teas. English breakfast tea is often a blend of Assam, Ceylon and Kenyan teas. Individual brands may also add Taiwanese or Chinese black teas. The tea is often served with some milk and sugar.
It’s the Modern Tea Party and you want it to be special.
Those looking for something other than traditional decaffeinated teas, try green roobois which comes from the South African plant (Aspalathus linearis). Made using a similar process to green tea, the unoxidized leaves determine its unique color. Roobois is full of healthy antioxidants and contains no caffeine.
You might have friends with food allergies (nuts, eggs, etc.) or sensitivities such as lactose or gluten intolerance, since both issues are now very common. Food preferences like low carb or no animal products (vegan) are gaining popularity. Your guests will appreciate your foresight if you plan ahead and have some other options on your table. Agave nectar is a great alternative to honey, and has a lower glycemic index. Coconut, rice or almond milks are nice dairy substitutes, and most are also available without added sugar.
A party is a reason to indulge, and everything is better with cupcakes! Recipes have become so versatile; you can opt for something sweet like s’mores (see feature photo) or savory like maple bacon. If you are looking to replace the dairy in buttercream icing, you can try a shortening stick or coconut oil. Coconut oil is solid above 76˚ F, and can also be whipped, providing a slightly sweet, creamy texture.
If you have disciplined friends following a low-carb diet, these Low-Carb Raspberry Thumbprint Scones will satisfy their sweet tooth, with coconut and almond flour replacing the higher carb wheat flour. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that imparts sweetness without the carbs of regular sugar.
A fun way to liven up your table is with place cards. You can dabble in calligraphy, grab a colored calligraphy marker, and write out each person’s name on a large piece of card stock, then cut down and fold the paper into a little tent. Calligraphy sets often come with an instruction booklet, and you can also find great videos and supporting guides on calligrapher’s blogs. If you have trouble finding markers at your local art supply or craft stores you can also buy them online. Make a few extra place cards to tell your guests which pastry is low carb, or which tea is decaf.
Affix stickers to the cards for an additional splash of color or sparkle. Patterned paper punches are an elegant alternative to stickers. If your tea party is for a special occasion like a birthday party or bridal shower, you can find great theme stickers at your local craft store. After the party, encourage your friends to keep them as bookmarks.
What’s the final touch to a beautiful, inviting, table? Flowers! Instead of a traditional single arrangement, consider individual bud vases, with a stem or two. Gerber daisies are bright, colorful blooms, or perhaps a more delicate combination such as a mini rose with baby’s breath.
If party planning leaves you frazzled, the place cards can be created days in advance. Cupcakes can be made the night before. Delegate the bud vase assembly to your buddy that always is the first to arrive. People will be happy to lend a hand. The most important ingredient for any occasion is to have fun!
(Feature photo – Shelley Cooney)