How to Have Your Own Cape May Tea Party
Typically, each afternoon guests at the Queen Victoria gather for tea. On the porches in summer, or parlors in winter, we serve delicious tea plus sweet and savory snacks at our beautiful Cape May Inn. It’s a time to enjoy a little quiet, share the happenings of your day with fellow guests, and make evening plans.
We can’t wait to carry on this tradition when we reopen. In the meantime, we’ve pulled together some suggestions on how to enjoy a traditional Victorian teatime at home and with friends on Zoom. Take an afternoon to make traditional Victorian tea, snacks, and dress up (for those that live with you) or invite your friends to do the same and meet online! It’s a fun way to visit, share ideas, and swap recipes.
Invite Your Friends
Start with invitations. In the Victorian era, invitations were traditionally handwritten on fine paper. You can go this route (it’s always exciting to get an invitation in the mail even to an online party) or you can choose a Victorian-style email invitation from an online retailer like Paperless Post. There are many to choose from. Decide who to invite, set up your Zoom chatroom, and get busy sending them out.
Most of us will have to work with what we have at home or can quickly grab at the grocery store. Luckily, flowers and lace aren’t too hard to come by. A simple floral centerpiece with a lace doily is perfect. Already have floral print cloth napkins or dessert plates? Perfect. Those will do. For a table setting, we suggest silverware for each guest, teacups and saucers, placemats and napkins, plus a tea service and serving plate for food.
Get Dressed Up
No need to overdo it, the Victorian tea party wasn’t a particularly formal affair (by the era’s standards), but it is a time to embrace whimsey and period statement pieces. Try a long skirt with a button-down or turtleneck shirt. You might add a shawl or elegant broch. Men, top hats are welcome, although simple trousers with and refined scarf are A-OK.
Brew Your Tea and Make Your Snacks
While you can serve almost any tea at your Victorian tea party, a variant of black tea is typical, such as Earl Gray. Fruit-based teas and green teas are lovely as well. We adore Harney & Sons teas. For tea snacks, we like small sandwiches, scones, cookies, and petit fours, but your options are endless. Use your imagination and do what works for you. There are many great recipes in our Queen Victoria Cookbook.
Enjoy Your Tea
In movies, it’s common to see tea drinkers hold their cups with pinkies extended. This isn’t actually proper etiquette, so just hold your teacup by its handle and don’t make a big show of it. Try not to clink your teaspoon loudly on the cup when stirring and place it on your saucer when finished. Lastly, to avoid spilling your tea, look at your teacup, not other guests when taking a sip.
To aid in the flow of your party (especially on Zoom) consider picking topics of conversation ahead of time and inviting each guest to take a turn sharing. Most importantly, have a great time!
We hope you enjoyed our guide to hosting your own Cape May tea party and we look forward to welcoming you back soon for a lovely stay in Cape May, complete with afternoon tea.
Thanks to The Silver Petticoat Review for some great ideas!