Looking for a quick break to take with a friend? By having a few simple things on hand you can put together a Tea for Two quickly and easily.
I started my collection of teacups and tea pots by finding pieces I liked at thrift stores and garage sales. In fact, some of my favorite things came to me for just a few dollars here and there. Now, my teacup collection is probably around 100 or so cups and saucers. I rarely buy anything anymore. I'd say that probably 30 of my teacups have been gifts, maybe more. It doesn't require that you spend a lot of money to have a few nice things.
In fact, I've been blessed so much by the generosity of others who know I like tea. When I was a teacher I received tea things as gifts from students. My finest tea pot, creamer & sugar came as a class gift one year for my birthday. It's been wonderful to use this set as it brings such fond memories.
I'd recommend starting off with a teapot, two teacups and saucers, and a creamer and sugar if you can. Two little pretty plates are also nice to have for the food. Do they have to match? Not at all! In fact, it's quite charming to set a tea table with all sorts of patterns. You may want to collect a certain pattern if you wish, or maybe just a particular color, or type of flower. I love my white teapots and dishes as well, as they can match everything. Sugar bowls, or just a pretty little bowl, can work fine, as can any little pitcher for milk. Even mugs can do in a pinch if that's all you have to use.
A tea kettle is handy if you have one, but you can simply boil water in a pot or the microwave if you wish. DON'T microwave your teapots, especially if they have gold trim! Use a big measuring cup, or bowl if needed.
While you are boiling the water pour some regular hot water in your teapot and let it sit for a few moments to warm up the pot. When it's warm, pour out the water. Then put your tea leaves, or tea bags in your tea pot and carefully pour the boiling water in letting it steep for three to five minutes. Then remove the tea leaves or tea bags. Remember, keeping the water on the tea leaves or tea bags for too long makes a bitter cup of tea.
Tea sandwiches are easy to put together. I usually just make them up based on what I have on hand. Egg salad always works well in a pinch. Just keep things small and dainty. I posted in December a whole list of sandwich ideas, if you are interested.
Scones are easy to make yourself, but are mixes are also available as are scones from the bakery. Of course, I'm partial to homemade as they are usually lighter in texture and softer. The giant, heavy, dry lumps that are called scones from some bakeries (Starbucks) leave a lot to be desired. If you've never made them yourself, try it! They are great because you can leave them plain or stuff them with whatever you have on hand.
Scones are usually served with jam, lemon curd, and cream. Yes, really Devonshire cream is a nice treat, but not always practical. I usually keep jam and curd in the fridge along with a can of whip cream. It's not as authentic, but works just fine.
Desserts are always nice with tea. I like to have cookies, sweet breads, and madeleinnes in the freezer so that I'm not trying to go nuts at the last minute. But, hey, we've all survived on things from the store as well. A few nice cookies (Pepperidge Farm) and a piece or two of chocolate can go a long way.
It's great if you have pretty serving pieces, but not necessary. Most of my serving dishes are from thrift stores and garage sales as well. However, just arranging things nicely on a plate works just fine as well.
You can have a lovely teatime with two mugs of tea, or coffee, and a plate of cookies. It's the sharing of our lives that makes it special. While it is a lot of fun to go all out and do a really fancy tea, it's not always practical, or necessary. Sometimes time, or money is short. That's alright. Remember, the important thing is that you are taking time with someone. Practicing hospitality and serving someone else is what truly matters. Having a few things on hand to make it easier, makes it more likely that you'll actually do it.