Muddy’s Journal

eight tips for an easy elegant tea party

Happy New Year, everyone! And more importantly (if you're reading this in January), Happy Hot Tea Month! In honor of a pretty great beverage all year round, and an even more awesome party tradition, we here at Muddy's Bake Shop are honored to collaborate this season with professional event planner Audrey Hurst to help you make your upcoming tea party as easy and elegant as possible.

If you're throwing an EXTRA big tea party -- or even/ESPECIALLY a wedding -- Audrey is happy to be of assistance. You can find her at audreyhurst.com. Audrey's goal is for her clients to feel like she is a dear old friend that brings joy to the process of whatever event you may be planning, and from what we've seen, her success rate couldn't be higher!

So why throw a tea party anyway? Audrey says the answer is simple. "It's a great way to enjoy girlfriends or celebrate a happy occasion like an engagement, birthday, new baby, or just to celebrate friendship!" And besides the deliciousness of the tea, treats, and rituals, a tea party really is an easy party to put together. "The joy of a tea party," Audrey continues, "is that with the help of places like Muddy's and a few other shortcuts, you really could pull off a lovely afternoon tea in a few short days."

Still feeling intimidated? Here are eight quick tips to easily make your tea party the most elegant in town.

1. If you already have a silver tea service like the lovely one pictured above, chances are you're already an old hand at tea parties. But don't worry if you don't have a silver service, or even a matching china tea set. Audrey says, "A more casual approach is a great option for someone looking to use what they already have! You can always use coffee mugs for tea if you don't have a tea service, and prepare the tea in the kitchen and serve on a pretty tray at the table. I love using glass serving pieces because they go with everything. They are also easy to find and a great economical choice!

2. Easily make the tea party a special, memorable event with a few simple extra touches. Make your guests comfortable with music. "Whether classical, folk or current," Audrey says, "walking into a home with music playing always puts guests at ease -- and it's a lot more fun!" Audrey also advises place cards. "Use place cards to direct guests to their seats -- it shows forethought and will make them feel welcome!" And monogrammed cocktail napkins, as pictured above, are a great way to simply add your signature to any event.

3. Setting the menu is easy when you have a bake shop like Muddy's Bake Shop to call. As for what to serve, Audrey gives the following advice: "I always try to stick to a few guidelines: something salty, something sweet, add some heartiness, and make sure there is color on the plate!" The menu pictured above follows those rules with treats including: Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies (butter cookies rolled in sugar and topped with a dollop of strawberry preserves), sandwiches made from Muddy's famous Nan's Pimento Cheese, a variety of muffins, biscotti, and mini cupcakes. 

4. Feeling clueless about how to serve the tea itself? Audrey says, "I would advise tea party rookies to offer each guest a variety of tea bags and work your way up to the proper presentation." We highly recommend any of Rishi Tea's blends. Organic, high-quality teas treated with love and respect through their entire harvest and processing, Rishi Tea can be found on the shelves of Muddy's Bake Shop in tea bags as well as loose.

5. Biscotti isn't just for coffee. It makes a delicious accompaniment to tea as well. There's nothing like a scratch-made biscotti dunked into a hot black tea, and Muddy's fresh-baked varieties are no exception. Just call your preferred pick-up location to place your order.

6. It's hard to imagine a tea party in Memphis without an appearance from Muddy's Mini Cupcakes. Available for pre-order by the dozen in a variety of flavors, they're an easy low-mess finger food that's as attractive on the table as they are delicious in the mouth! Pictured above are our Wedding Cake Mini Cupcakes, tender bites of vanilla cake topped with beautifully piped fresh-made cream cheese icing. 

7. Easily dial up the elegance (and the fun) with one single addition to the party: champagne! "Champagne is always a good idea, right?" Audrey says. "Whether enjoying high tea while traveling in New York, Chicago, or even at home at The Peabody, champagne is always offered with afternoon tea -- and I always accept!"

8. If you're up for the challenge of serving your tea in the traditional loose leaf style, you have two options. The first is to provide a variety of loose teas and pour-over type strainers. Allow each guest to pick the type of tea they desire, provide a teaspoon to fill their strainer with the tea, and pour hot water over each person's strainer into their teacups. Alternatively, you can brew a single type of tea (or multiple, depending on the number of teapots you have) by placing the tea directly into the pot: one teaspoon of tea per cup plus one for the pot is the rule. Pour hot water into the pot and steep in the pot before pouring the tea over a strainer into each individual teacup. And naturally, for loose leaf tea, we also recommend Rishi Tea, which you can always find on the shelves at Muddy's Bake Shop!

If you enjoyed this post, we hope you'll come see again here on the Muddy's Journal in the upcoming weeks for more tea party tips and tricks!