All Rise for the English Tea Party

When thinking about tea parties, do you find yourself encumbered with thoughts of British gentry, Victorian décor, snippets of Alice in Wonderland and pinky fingers saluting fellow guests?

If so, you’re right and wrong. You’re right because as the tradition of afternoon tea has developed over hundreds of years, it has become an elegant affair. You’re also wrong because ‘High’ tea was often sipped by the British working class with their evening supper. A cup of tea is quintessentially engraved in our society and now the English tea party is making a come back.

There is no accurate record of the first tea party in the UK, but is reputed that Anna Russell, the seventh duchess of Bedford, introduced ‘afternoon tea’ to the western world in the early 19th century. At the time, the English only ate two main meals a day – a hearty breakfast and an enormous dinner. The duchess was lost between meals and this void in her day inspired her to prepare small snacks in between these meals, accompanied with a cup of tea!

During the late 1800’s, the concept travelled in to fine hotels; offering a tea service, or a tea party, in Tea Rooms and Tea Courts. Eminent Victorian ladies and their gentlemen would meet late afternoon for tea and socialising. Many of these gatherings became so reputable that certain members of the royal family and the famous would bless the parties with their presence in order to maintain social recognition.

By the early 1900’s, the majority of prestigious hotels in England, particularly London, began to host tea parties and dances, as dancing in the UK was fast becoming the new fad. The marriage of tea and socialising was now a happy and successful one – if you enjoyed your tea, savouring it in front of yours peers and acquaintances was now a necessity.

Fast forward a hundred years and the tradition and heritage of the tea party have been preserved. Today, it still brings people together; creating conversations and friendships and tea can be appreciated in a similar fashion. The resurgence of the tea party has added something different, more civilised and cultured, to the way we can socialise. It’s not all about binge drinking and conversations that lose out to ostentatious music.

It could be for these very reasons then, why the tea party is a popular alternative with celebrities and normal folk when entertaining. The most recent, high-profile tea party of the year was hosted by super model (and normally super-party animal) Kate Moss to celebrate her 34th birthday in January. The 1920’s themed ladies’ tea party provided afternoon tea to a glut of her celebrity friends in the Dorchester Hotel.

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes also held a conspicuous tea party for their 18-month-old daughter, Suri, inside the Carlyle Hotel in New York, early this year. The interior was decorated with artwork from the Madeline series of children’s books as guests danced, nibbled on cakes and drank tea. A sight any photographer would have relished.

It isn’t just celebrities, however, who are enjoying their tea. This year has seen a number of UK-based charities encourage tea parties as the perfect way to raise money and awareness. Christian Aid embraced the art of tea parties by launching Tea Time 2008. More then 2,000 tea parties took place across the UK, as tea cups were raised in aid of tackling poverty around the globe.

Even the nation’s domestic animals are getting involved. In May this year, The Blue Cross launched the UK’s biggest tea party for pets! The event was supported by actor Martin Freeman and was joined by an assortment of tea-loving canines and cats at the prestigious Claridge’s in London. Backed by the UK Tea Council, the fundraising event was the first of its kind to combine the country’s passion for tea, animal welfare and tea sets – providing a large range of classic and contemporary tea pots and china.

With the revival of the tea party well under way and the country now clambering through their lofts and attics to discover the family’s treasured, but neglected tea set, there’s never a better time to put the kettle on.

One company that’s appreciating the recent furore and specialises in modern and classic tea sets is Cube Homewares – an online contemporary kitchen and homeware shop. Their range includes an Alice in Wonderland teapot, to authentic china tea sets.

"Things come and go in fashion but the one thing that remains quintessentially British and always in fashion is the good old fashioned cuppa," says Cube Homewares. "How many times have you been abroad and said can’t wait to get home for a decent cup of tea! At Cube Homewares we have everything from mugs, teapots to tea sets – perfect for any tea party."

So if you like a brew and you’re fond of a party, then the best thing to do is host a tea party. Telephone you’re friends and announce its Tea Time!

Users Reading this article are also interested in:
Top Searches on Tea Guide:
English Tea Party Tea Party Birthday Party
About The Author, Isnare Articles
Matt Crick is writing on behalf of Cubehomewares, one of the leading online kitchenware shops, stocking a wide range of contemporary homewares, kitchen accessories and designer kitchenware. They offer a varied product range of premium quality homewares and kitchenware at very competitive prices. From tableware to cookware; storage to kitchen gadgets and even barware – making Cubehomewares one of the best, cost-effective places to buy kitchenware online. They’ve got it all!