(Including my Top 5 Tips to make it extra special! Plus, a full menu, with recipes!)
I hope this finds everyone healthy and having a nice holiday season (and winter break, for those on holiday!).
I signed my girls up for winter camp, but then the current “surge” happened and we chose to keep the girls home. Disappointing, but also an opportunity!
I LOVE afternoon tea and have for as long as I can remember. I’ve had a lot of great tea experiences. Some highlights: teas in England (Harrods in London and The Pump Room in Bath), Boston (The Ritz and The Four Seasons), NYC (Cha An Teahouse, Tea & Sympathy, Alice’s Tea Cup, Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon, Ladurée, Crosby Street Hotel, Harney & Sons) and LA (The Peninsula and Ladurée x MK). And now, thanks to the pandemic, I can add my home to this list of popular tea destinations! :)- (We only serve organic teas, and all the food is vegan and gluten free!)
For the past 4 years, I’ve had the tradition of a special afternoon tea around the holidays. It’s a fun way to mark the holiday season and the coming New Year, and spend time with friends and my daughters. 3 years ago I took my oldest daughter out in LA to a vegan afternoon tea – her first ever. 2 years ago my dear friend and I went to the Peninsula Hotel in LA for a vegan/GF afternoon tea (for me) and my daughters joined us at the end for some treats and lovely harp music. Last year was Covid, so we weren’t going anywhere. Instead, my girls had afternoon tea at home. TWICE. One time we had Ladurée x MK cater it and the next time we had Sugarbird do it.
(Both were vegan, and delicious! See my social media for more photos of these awesome home experiences!)
This year to celebrate our new house, in a new state & new city, we made our own afternoon tea! The girls helped me make the scones, the boy helped make the lemon glaze, my husband cut the finger sandwiches and got out my fine tea china. It was a family team effort! Here are some things I did that were easy but also added that extra special touch.
My TOP FIVE easy tips to make it an extra special holiday afternoon tea:
- Fresh flowers. We found pink peonies (totally not in season right now, but looked great!) at Whole Foods to brighten up our tea table and bring some cheer to the gloomy, snow flurrying, wintery day we were having.
- A pretty tablecloth. It really turns your kitchen or dining room table into something special.
- Different dishes or fine china. Whatever you have, that you don’t use often. Take it out. If not now, when?
- Make something HOME MADE. Not everything needs to be baked or cooked but even just one thing home made makes it extra special (see all my recipes below for different ideas and options!)
- Dress up! Last year my kids got all dressed up in dresses and I did their hair. It was my 4 year old’s first time ever having afternoon tea and I wanted her to know how special it was. (They loved dressing up, by the way!)
With any event I host, big or small, I always put together a menu. It helps me to plan what I want to do, what I CAN do and what I need to get so I stay organized.
Here was my menu, feel free to use or adapt as you wish!
Abby’s Winter 2021 Holiday Afternoon Tea:
- Organic loose leaf tea – rooibos, raspberry, rosehip, calendula, vanilla & hibiscus
- Organic berries – strawberries & raspberries
- Lemon tea cake with lemon glaze (vegan & gluten free)
- Cherry Chocolate Chunk mini scones with cherry glaze (vegan & gluten free)
- Finger sandwiches – cucumber & butter, salmon & cream cheese (vegan & gluten free)
Believe it or not I had never made finger sandwiches before so I was excited to try that! We recently celebrated my son’s 2nd birthday where I served bagels and (carrot) lox. Smoked “salmon” and cream cheese is a classic tea sandwich, and I had leftovers of both which was perfect. I always have vegan butter and cucumbers in the house so that became sandwich #2.
For the scones, I was interested in trying a new flavor combo since I already have a few vegan scone recipes on my site. Today was mainly for the girls, and I thought they’d enjoy cherries and chocolate! We were also having a few things so I thought an entire scone each was too much. So… my Cherry Chocolate Chunk MINI scones were born!
I tried out a lemon tea cake recipe for the first time, and it still has some kinks to work out. While I tinker with it, I suggest making my lemon bar recipe instead. I have made them for many years now, it’s one of my most popular recipes!
The whole tea was entirely vegan, gluten free, refined sugar, flour, and dye free, naturally sweetened and naturally colored (with REAL cherries and REAL lemons). It was also scrumptious! All 5 of us loved it, and ate so much we hardly had room for dinner. (Which might have something to do with why I consider afternoon tea a special treat, not every afternoon.) 🙂
The 5 of us basically inhaled everything, it was all so good! The girls requested music, so Alexa played us some classical music in the background. We set the table with a white tablecloth and cloth napkins, put out the fine china, made the tea and plated our delicious homemade treats.
I originally was going to use some of my tried-and-true recipes (below), but last-minute switched it up since the girls were home and I thought it would be fun to try something new with them. But these recipes might still interest you!
If you make an afternoon tea, please snap a photo and tag me so I can see!
Wishing you a Happy & Healthy New Year!