I’ve discovered this is a wonderful time of year to share the message of Hope 🌲 and Peace 🕊 with those around us.
In 1996 while still living in Southern California I invited a few friends over for a Christmas Tea. Every year since I have hosted a gathering for tea during the holidays. There have been gatherings of 3, 8, 10, 12, and one year 40 ladies attended! Over the years that first Christmas Tea has developed into the perfect tradition. One which is steeped in love.
And nothing pleases or excites me more than hosting one myself.
I’m not sure why I get so much pleasure when preparing for a tea.
Perhaps it has something to do with involving all those things that I so enjoy. simple comforts of home
Creating a special cozy place for friends
to visit and come together for an afternoon of relaxing. Seriously… could it get any better. I think not.
Just a bit of advice if you are thinking about hosting a future Christmas Tea of your own.
Schedule your tea so it falls after you have your holiday decorations up inside .and out
Of all my teas I love the setting for December. The sights, smells, and music are the perfect setting for a gathering.
As your guests enter your home they will see that you have prepared a special afternoon for them.They will hear it, smell it, and eventually taste it. They will feel honored.
A Christmas Tea is very easy to put together. The baking can be done in advance with the rest of your holiday baking.
The sandwiches can be prepared in the morning, wrapped well, and placed in the refrigerator until needed. One hour before the Tea, prepare the clotted cream (this gives it time to set and chill). When you are ready to serve, place the sandwiches and desserts on platters, set out the tea things, warm the scones, and brew the tea.
MENU FOR A CHRISTMAS TEA
Darjeeling Tea (or your choice)
Traditional Tea Sandwiches
Recipe for Cranberry Scones (makes approximately 10 scones)
3/4 cup fresh cranberries
1 cup boiling water
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1 egg 3/4 cup milk
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons cold water
Coarsely chop the cranberries. Cover them with the boiling water and let sit for an hour. Drain off all the liquid Sift the dry ingredients together. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is crumbly. Beat the egg and milk together. Pour into the dry ingredients, stirring until a dough is formed. Add the cranberries, mixing well. Preheat oven to 350. Using an ice cream scoop, form the scones, and place on a greased baking sheet. Beat the egg yolk with the cold water. Using a pastry brush, glaze each scone with this mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot or cold with jam and clotted cream, if desired.
BLACK FOREST HAM SANDWICHES (makes 12 pieces)
8 thin slices dark bread
4 slices Black Forest ham
Spread the top and bottom of each slice of bread with a thin coating of butter. On 4 slices of the bread, place a ham slice, folding the ham to conform to the bread size and keeping in mind that the crusts will be trimmed off. Spread a thin coating of honey mustard on each slice of ham. Top each sandwich with the remaining bread. Trim the crusts. Cut each sandwich into 3 parallel pieces.
CUCUMBER SANDWICHES (makes 12 pieces)
6 thin slices white bread
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
Spread each slice of bread with a thin coating of butter. Place the cucumber slices on 3 of bread, making sure the bread is well covered (approximately 6 to 8 slices of cucumber per piece of bread). Season each sandwich with salt and pepper. Cover with the remaining slices of buttered bread. Trim the crusts. Cut each sandwich into 4 pieces.
EGG MAYONNAISE AND WATERCRESS SANDWICHES (makes 12 pieces)
2 hard-boiled eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/8 cup watercress, washed and picked from stems
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
4 thin slices white bread
4 thin slices wheat bread
Finely chop the hard-boiled eggs. Whisk the mayonnaise and cream cheese together until smooth. Add this mixture to the eggs and mix until well blended. Fold in the watercress. Season with salt and pepper. Spread each slice of the white bread with a thin coating of butter. Spread the egg salad evenly on the bread. Butter the wheat bread and place a slice on top of each sandwich. Trim the crusts. Cut each sandwich into 3 parallel pieces.
STILTON, WALNUT, AND PEAR SANDWICHES (makes 12 pieces)
1/4 pound English Stilton cheese
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 ripe pear, cored
6 thin slices wheat bread
Crumble the cheese and let it soften. While the cheese is softening, toast the walnuts under the broiler for approximately 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool and chop very fine. Slice the pear into 12 thin slices. Spread each slice of bread with a thin coating of butter. Divide the cheese equally among 3 slices of the bread and spread it gently. Sprinkle a heaping tablespoon of walnuts over the cheese. Place 4 slices of the pear on each sandwich. Top each sandwich with the remaining bread slices, pressing down firmly. Trim the crusts. Cut each sandwich into 4 pieces.
CLOTTED CREAM ( makes 1 1/2 cups: serves 4-6)
I use to be able to purchase the clotted cream that is used in England at Fresh and Easy in Riverside California. I haven’t looked for it here on the coast. Below is a facsimiles for a recipe.
1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
One hour before serving, pour the heavy cream into a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Whisk in the sour cream and sugar, continuing to beat until the mixture is very thick. Place in the refrigerator and chill until it is time to serve. If you want to make this ahead of time, it should last 4-6 hours in the refrigerator.
One last thing. promise…
You may find, as I have that your guests are so delighted by a Christmas Tea, that it just might become a tradition in your home. be it mansion, apartment, or simply cottage.🏠