How to throw a high tea

Impress guests with our step-by-step guide to afternoon en-tea-taining…

Step 1: Etiquette Send out invitations approximately a month in advance. The invite should elegantly display how formal your event will be and should politely request a response from the invitee.

Step 2: Table Lay a bright white linen tablecloth out. Serve food on plates, cake stands and platters and give your guests linen napkins, white side plates, cake forks, butter knives and tea spoons. Place bowls of warm water with lemon slices and mint leaves around the table so that people can rinse off sticky fingers. Remember sugar, milk, lemon slices for tea and a dish for discarding used tea bags.

Step 3: Decorations Make your entertainment area look pretty with glass vases full of fresh flowers (gerberas and roses are especially lovely). Floating tea lights and oil burners can also add to the ambience of the room.

Step 4: Sandwiches High tea is all about delicate finger food. Spread soft white bread with butter and fill with egg and cress, smoked salmon and cream cheese, cucumber, ham and mustard or chicken mayonnaise. Cut off the crusts, slice sangas into rectangular fingers and serve on antique china plates.

Step 5: Sweet treats Impress your guests with your baking skills! Popular biscuits and cakes at afternoon tea include scones loaded with clotted cream and strawberry jam, macarons, friands, custard tarts, pastries, cookies and cupcakes.

Step 6: Drinks Offer hot water and a range of teabags to your guests. Among the most popular are earl grey, green tea, camomile and Assam. If tea seems tame, drop fresh berries or hibiscus flowers into pink champagne for pretty sipping. Pop a jug of cold water and some glasses onto the table too for refreshment.

Step 7: Entertainment While your guests arrive and eat, play soft classical music such as Chopin. If you’d like to liven up the party a bit more, why not throw a game of bingo or have a flower arranging competition?