Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Menu in Pictures

Tea and Crafts

Paper and pretty young ladies were a good combination as a pre-Afternoon Tea activity.  Their hands and dresses did not get dirty; we didn't have to provide a complicated set-up.  Different colors of origami paper were laid out next to a print out of folding instructions, both for the easy origami tulip and a more traditional origami tulip

The young ladies gave these origami creations to their mothers, making the tables more festive with the addition of these beautiful offerings.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Counting Down to Tea Time

With only three days left before the Annual Mothers' Tea for their Daughters, a palpable excitement can be felt in the air, at least in our household.  The girls have picked out their dresses, and are busily scrounging through my closet for accessories.  In the meantime, our menu is shaping up beautifully from delights promised by the mommies!


Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Cucumber Sandwiches
Salmon and Cream Cheese Croquettes
Pineapple Nut Tea Sandwiches


Lemon Bars
Orange Cupcakes
Walnut Ball Cookies
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Mini Cheesecakes


Selection of Regular and Herbal Teas
Lemonade and Water

But an Afternoon Tea cannot be complete without Scones, Clotted Cream, and Strawberry Jam!  Email us directly at saintannshomeschool at gmail dot com for the scone flavors you can bring, and if I may add, I am partial to orange-cranberry.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Getting Your Tea Fix

The practice of having Afternoon Tea supposedly started when Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford is said to have complained of “having that sinking feeling” during the late afternoon.   She would, indeed, after having eaten breakfast in the morning and nothing at all till supper at 8 o’clock!  These days, stopping for Afternoon Tea has become an occasional luxury even for the British.

But thankfully, it is still available for us to enjoy, even here in Virginia!  Aside from private Tea Receptions such as what we put together every year, there are many places that will indulge your inner Jane Austen. is a good place to start your search.  It is an online Tea Room Directory: just plug in your zip code and you get a list of establishments with client ratings to guide you.  Another directory is which also lists tea rooms in the US, Canada, England and other countries around the world.

The Pink Bicycle Tea Room in Historic Occoquan has been our personal favorite since our girls can hold teacups.  Owner Lisa Johnson is a gracious hostess and understands the imaginations of little girls.  The big hats in the waiting room add to the magic of the special outing.

Other nearby tea rooms that we’ve enjoyed:
Pinkadilly Tea in Fredericksburg
Tea Tyme and What Nots, also in Fredericksburg is tucked down the hall inside a shopping center
Serenity Tea Room in Frederick, MD

Hotels often offer Afternoon Tea.  A few near us –
Entyse Wine Bar & Lounge at the Ritz Carlton
The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond even has a Teddy Bear Tea for their younger guests

Afternoon Tea Party by Mary Cassatt

Friday, April 13, 2012

Menu Ideas: Desserts

Desserts are often the first things our daughters learn to make.  Chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and frosted and shaped sugar cookies.  For an Afternoon Tea, baking these same things in a daintier size make it seem more special.  Below are ideas from previous years' menus --

Mini Meringues
Cheesecake Shooters
Orange Cupcakes
Lemon Drizzle Pound Cake
Chocolate Petit Fours
Tea Cookies
Assorted Fruits


Chocolate covered Pretzels
Chocolate covered Strawberries
Green grapes
Pineapple chunks
Red grapes
Tea cookies
Walnut cookies


Amaretto truffle brownies
Assorted Fruits
Chocolate covered Strawberries
Cinnamon bread pudding
Fondant Puffs
Mini banana muffins
Mini meringues
Pineapple cupcakes
Tea cookies
Walnut cookies

Menu Ideas: Appetizers

Do you need to be inspired?  Here are sample selections from our Afternoon Tea in previous years --

Chicken salad sandwiches
Egg salad sandwiches
Pimento Cheese Sandwiches
Tuna Salad Sandwiches


Bacon delight sandwiches
Cheese and crackers
Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Cream Cheese and Olive Sandwiches
Cream Cheese and Smoked Salmon
Cucumber sandwiches
Egg Salad Sandwiches


Cream Cheese & Turkey Rounds
Chicken Salad Puffs
Cucumber Sandwiches
Ham & Pickle Rolls
Beef Turnovers
Brie with Raspberry Jam

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sweets for Dainty Fingers

Perhaps next to the cup of good tea, the guests look forward to the cake and desserts on that top tier of the serving tray.  If you are planning to bake for our Afternoon Tea, consider making sponge cake or pound cake.  As a final course, each guest will be served a thin slice of cake to eat with other desserts.

If you like to express your artistic inclinations through baking, consider making petits fours like macarons and meringues, or iced ones like eclairs and layered cakes to complete the dessert tray.  At, you'll find tidbits on tea time traditions and cake recipes from scratch.

For the adventurous bakers out there, try making a Battenburg Cake with its distinctive two-by-two check pattern.  That would give any Afternoon Tea a British touch.

Photo credit

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Scones: the Second Course

Commonly eaten with jam and clotted cream, the scone is a small British quick bread, usually made of wheat, barley or oatmeal with baking powder as a leavening agent.  A simple scone recipe can be the beginning of a variety of flavors that will add much to your Afternoon Tea.  USA Weekend columnist, Pam Anderson shared at one that asked for raisins but which could be changed into cranberry-orange, lemon-blueberry, or cherry-almond with a few ingredient exchanges.  Try it!


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
  • 1/2 cup raisins (or dried currants)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg


  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Grate butter into flour mixture on the large holes of a box grater; use your fingers to work in butter (mixture should resemble coarse meal), then stir in raisins.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth.
  4. Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball. (The dough will be sticky in places, and there may not seem to be enough liquid at first, but as you press, the dough will come together.)
  5. Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7- to 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp. of sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut into 8 triangles; place on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper), about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.


  • Cranberry-Orange Scones
  • Follow the recipe for Simple Scones, adding a generous teaspoon of finely grated orange rind (zest) to the dry ingredients and substituting dried cranberries for the raisins.
  • Lemon-Blueberry Scones
  • Follow the recipe for Simple Scones, adding a generous teaspoon of finely grated lemon rind (zest) to the dry ingredients and substituting dried blueberries for the raisins.
  • Cherry-Almond Scones
  • Follow the recipe for Simple Scones, adding 1/2 tsp. almond extract to the sour cream mixture and substituting dried cherries for the raisins.
  • Copyright 2006 USA WEEKEND and columnist Pam Anderson. All rights reserved.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Clotted Cream Makes a Tea

Scones and strawberry jam for Afternoon Tea seems to be incomplete without clotted cream.  It has such a rich and tasty history; according to wikipedia --
Clotted cream (sometimes called clouted cream or Devonshire cream) is a thick cream made by indirectly heating full-cream cow's milk using steam or a water bath and then leaving it in shallow pans to cool slowly. During this time, the cream content rises to the surface and forms 'clots' or 'clouts'. It forms an essential part of a cream tea.
There are many make-your-own recipes to be found online, with as many commenters that dispute the resulting taste from such trials.  The website offers a simple (two ingredients: fresh milk and heavy cream) though time-consuming (24 hours to sit, 1.5 ++ hours to cook) recipe that should taste like the real thing.  Even if you're not planning to make your own, the article linked above still makes for an informative and entertaining read.

Another recipe comes from Sustainable Table, and also takes a long while (8-10 hours in the oven, then refrigerate overnight) but won't require you to watch a pot nor fiddle with water temperatures in a double boiler.

For the rest of us, there's Amazon and 6 oz bottles of English Clotted Cream that comes 2 per pack for $12.60 plus shipping.

Photo credit

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Savory Tea Sandwich Recipes

First course of a traditional Afternoon Tea is the savory sandwiches.  These are generally small, crustless tasty sandwiches.  Forego the cookie cutters because that wastes a lot of bread.  Cut a regular-sized sandwich into 4 squares or triangles, and voila!  You have your Afternoon Tea off to a great start.

Here are a few links to recipes for savory sandwiches:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

An Invitation

Moms, you and your daughter(s) are cordially invited 
to join us in a transformed Hannan Hall 
for a formal Afternoon Tea.  

We will enjoy fine finger sandwiches, delicate sweets, and a variety of specialty teas, as well as listen to a guest speaker.  Please wear your best Tea Party ensemble as we share this wonderful afternoon together.

Sunday, April 22, 1:45 - 4:00
Hannan Hall, Queen of Apostles 
4329 Sano Street, Alexandria, VA 22312

RSVP by April 17th via Evite 

A Payment of $10 per mother and $5 per daughter is requested for this event. Please send checks to Kathy Matthews no later than April 17th. 

(This event is for daughters who have made their 1st Communion and their Mother, aunts, or grandmothers.  Moms, you will be asked to contribute some specific items to make this a unique event for your daughter(s), including some light tea delicacy.  Look for a follow up e-mail with details upon your acceptance of the invitation.)