As I mentioned in a previous post I was recently listening to the audio book of theThe Parasol Protectorate series and because of that I have found myself thinking of having a Steampunk Tea Party! In the books, the characters often sit down to tea or a meal and maybe it is just me, but no matter what was being discussed during those scenes, I found I had a keen interest in what was being imbibed. Indeed, I always find myself drinking more cups of Earl Grey tea when I am reading or listening to The Parasol Protectorate books. It should be noted though that the protagonist of the series does not share my love of Earl Grey. When I was a child, like most little girls, I loved playing tea parties with my younger sisters. We even had a real ceramic children’s tea set and there was nothing better than baking fairy cakes with my mother, and eating these while they were still warm with little cups of tea and sandwiches at our own tea party.
Steampunk Tea Party for Adults
Three decades later and I still love a good tea party and while I was at my nephew’s Naming Ceremony in June, I kept thinking how wonderful it would be to have a Steampunk Tea Party on such an occasion. Well, that idea came too late, but now I am planning one for a more adult themed affair! I may do something Tea Party-ish for Halloween, but otherwise I think it may be something nice to do over the Christmas holidays or even for my birthday. So what follows are my plans for this event and maybe some of my ideas will help you to plan a similar event.
Where to Host Your Tea Party
It would seem more traditional to serve your tea in the parlour, but I think this would be something equally lovely in the garden. My sister has a beautiful lawn and I could really see tables set up for tea, under giant parasols as quite a lovely setting. But, as every Brit knows, if you’re planning an outdoor event, having an indoor back up plan is extremely prudent. Luckily, unlike a picnic or a barbecue, a tea party works well indoors or out. Just ensure you have enough space for your guests no matter where the venue.
Tea Party Table Settings
This really depends on the type of tea party you are hosting. I like the idea of a number of round tables, each seating six or eight out on the lawn, for a larger gathering. But for an indoor event or one for fewer people, a single long table works better. Be sure to use a nice table cloth – you can use something plain, covered by a lace full cloth or runner. As for dishes, if you have a full china tea set with enough cups and saucers for everyone, that’s great. I like the one shown here, which is available from Amazon.com at a very reasonable price. But you can also use a mix of different styles and colours. Try charity shops and old boot/yard sales to see what you can find. Another nice touch is to have place cards for each of your guests.
Food and Inspiration
One of the main reasons I had this idea for a tea party, is the book ‘Steampunk Tea Party’. It is full of ideas and recipes for the perfect tea party! Even if you don’t plan to have a tea party, it makes for a nice read, but I warn you, you will feel the urge to throw on a corset and brew some tea.
The main beverage that is going to be served at your tea party will, of course, be tea. I suggest brewing at least two different types of tea, if not more. Go for a different styles, for example you may want something light like a Darjeeling, or aromatic like an Earl Grey. If you’re not sure about what type of tea to use, there is so much information out there on tea and how to brew the perfect pot. Even better, if you have a store nearby that sells lose tea (I recently visited a Whittards in London) they normally have different teas you can try and have people you can speak to for advice.
Finger foods are the way to go when deciding what to serve with the perfect cup of tea. An assortment of miniature cakes is best. If you’re not much of a baker, you can buy most of these from the store, but I would still recommend whipping up something like a Victoria Sandwich, because it is just so easy to make. If you take a look at the videos below, they give some great basic tips on baking and have been created by the author of ‘Steampunk Tea Party’. You might also like to serve some scones with jam and clotted cream. A selection of sandwiches is also a marvellous idea, with fillings like cucumber and cream cheese, smoked salmon although you could use just about any filling you want!
Victorian Parlour Games
The Victorians loved their parlour games. These were usually puzzle or word games played indoors for amusement and enjoyment. After all, this was a time before television! The most well-known is probably Charades, where one person has to act out a phrase, while the others guess. This can be done in teams, who compete to see who can guess the most charades correctly. Or you can play as a group, where the person who guesses correctly performs the next charade. It’s a good idea to put a time limit on how long the player has to act out the phrase.
In modern versions of Charades, players usually have to guess the titles of movies, television shows or songs. I wanted something a little different for my Charades clues, so I compiled a list of sayings and phrases. These are ready to be printed, cut out, folded, and placed in a bowl, ready to be picked by players in your very own game of Charades. You might like to print them on some cream or yellowed thick paper, to give them more of an aged and authentic look.
These are just some of the ideas I’ve had for my own Steampunk Tea Party, and when I get around to hosting it, I will take lots of pics and share them online so you can see how it went! Do you have any other ideas for a Steampunk Tea Party? I’d love to hear them!