Afternoon Tea

Hosting an afternoon tea party can be a wonderful way to reflect God’s love through the gift of hospitality. We open our homes to others with a servant’s heart, ministering to them and providing fellowship. Creating a beautiful setting and providing yummy treats need not be too labor-intensive. After all, the focus is on the people. This party is both gracious and easy.

A warm and inviting atmosphere can do much of the heavy lifting in making guests feel at home. Fresh flowers, pretty place settings and a fun, informal menu spark conversation and lighten the stuffiness of traditional tea parties. Keep your focus on your guests’ comfort as they come together to celebrate the Lord.

The Menu

Appetizer

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  • PHILLY CHEESE STEAK
  • 1 ½ pound sirloin steak, cut into thin strips
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut in julienne strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut in julienne strips
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 French baguette, cut in twelve ½-inch slices
  • slices provolone cheese, each slice cut in half
  • HAM AND CHEDDAR
  • 12 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
  • Butter
  • 18 slices deli ham
  • 12 slices sharp cheddar
  • SUN-DRIED TOMATO, ARUGULA & GOAT CHEESE:
  • 12 slices multigrain sandwich bread, crusts removed
  • Butter
  • Soft goat cheese, divided
  • 1 7-ounce jar julienne-cut sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups arugula
  • Philly Cheese Steak: Cook and stir steak and bell peppers in skillet until meat is browned and peppers are crisp-tender; season with salt and pepper. Spread butter on one side of each bread slice. Assemble sandwiches: one bread slice (butter-side down), cheese, steak and peppers, cheese and bread slice (butter-side up). Cook sandwiches in a skillet, griddle or panini pan for 3 to 4 minutes each side, turning to second side when bread is golden brown.
  • Ham and Cheddar: Spread butter on one side of each bread slice. Assemble sandwiches: one bread slice (butter side down), one cheese slice, three slices ham, one cheese slice and bread (butter side up). Cook sandwiches in a skillet, griddle or panini pan for 3 to 4 minutes each side, turning to second side when cheese is melted and bread is golden brown.
  • Sun-Dried Tomato, Arugula & Goat Cheese: Spread butter on one side of each bread slice. Cooking in batches as needed, place bread, buttered sides down, on griddle. Carefully spread cheese on each slice. Top half the slices with some of the sun-dried tomatoes and half the bread with arugula. Griddle for 3 to 4 minutes until cheese is slightly melted and bread is toasted. Carefully assemble halves for each sandwich.

Salad

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  • 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp raspberry vinegar
  • 1 ½ tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ⅛ tsp black pepper
  • 4 cups spring mix, washed and dried
  • ½ cup fresh blueberries
  • ½ cup fresh raspberries
  • ½ cup sliced strawberries
  • 2 ounces soft goat cheese, broken into small pieces
  • For raspberry vinaigrette, whisk together olive oil, raspberry vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and pepper; set aside. Portion spring mix into glass cups. Top with berries and goat cheese. Serve with vinaigrette.

Main

Hawaiian Chicken & Veggie Kabobs

These easy kabobs have an Asian touch and feature tender chunks of chicken, pineapple and bell peppers.

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  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 cup purchased Asian sesame salad dressing, plus additional for garnish
  • 1 small fresh pineapple, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 medium yellow bell peppers, cut into 1-inch squares
  • 2 medium green bell peppers, cut into 1-inch squares
  • Sliced green onions, for garnish
  • Marinate chicken chunks in dressing 2 hours, covered, in refrigerator. Meanwhile, soak wooden skewers in water at least 30 minutes. Preheat grill to medium heat.
  • Thread each skewer as follows: pineapple, yellow bell pepper, green bell pepper, chicken, yellow bell pepper and green bell pepper. Grill kabobs 8 to 10 minutes, turning occasionally to cook evenly. If desired, garnish with additional dressing and green onions.

Dessert

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  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup sugar plus additional for dusting
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp (¾ stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut in pieces
  • 1 ½ cups dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp orange zest
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Position rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat or parchment paper.
  • Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender. Stir in cranberries and orange zest; set aside.
  • Mix together egg and heavy cream in a small bowl until combined. Stir into flour mixture until a workable dough forms.
  • Press dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle approximately ½ inch thick. Cut dough into six to eight squares; cut squares diagonally into triangles. Place triangles 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheet.
  • Brush lightly with milk or cream and dust generously with sugar. Bake for 12 to 13 minutes, just until scones begin to brown on bottom edges. Transfer pan to rack to cool.
Expand Recipe
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp (¾ stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup dried tart cherries, chopped roughly
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp pure almond extract
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Position rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat or parchment paper.
  • Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in cold butter with a pastry blender. Stir in cherries; set aside.
  • Stir together egg, almond extract and cream in a small bowl until combined. Stir into flour mixture until a workable dough forms. Press dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle approximately ½ inch thick. Cut dough into six to eight squares; cut squares diagonally into triangles. Place triangles 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake for 12 to 13 minutes, just until scones begin to brown on bottom edges. Transfer pan to rack to cool.
  • Brush or drizzle slightly cooled scones with Glaze.
Expand Recipe
  • 1 recipe Vanilla Cake Mix (see below)
  • ¾ cup milk (at room temperature)
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • ½ cup salted butter, room temperature (1 stick)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 lemons (2 teaspoons zest and 4 tablespoons juice)
  • 1 recipe Lemon Frosting (see below)
  • Prepare Vanilla Cake Mix; set aside. Preheat oven to 345°F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. Combine milk and vinegar in a small bowl; set aside.
  • Beat butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl on medium-low until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and beat on medium for 1 minute. Add cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1 cup of the Vanilla Cake Mix. Beat on medium for 2 minutes.
  • Add milk and vinegar mixture, lemon juice and lemon zest. Mix until smooth.
  • Pour batter into prepared pans, filling each three-fourths full. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.
  • Vanilla Cake Mix: Stir together 2¼ cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 3½ teaspoons baking powder, and 1½ cups sugar in a large bowl until well combined. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Makes about 3½ cups.
  • Lemon Frosting: Beat 4 sticks (room temperature) butter, in a large mixing bowl on low for 1 minute. Add the ¼ teaspoon salt, turn mixer to medium and beat 5 minutes more.
  • Add 3¾ cups powdered sugar and beat on low for 1 minute. Add 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Beat on medium-high until frosting is fluffy, about 7 minutes.
  • Use Wilton Piping Tip #1M (Star tip) to create a simple rose on each cupcake.
Raspberry Puff Cake

A light-as-air cream puff cake topped with white chocolate provides a soft landing for luscious raspberry mousse and fresh berries.

Expand Recipe
  • 1 recipe Basic Cream Puff Dough (see below)
  • 1 (¼-ounce) packet unflavored gelatin (2¼ teaspoons)
  • ⅓ cup lemon juice
  • 2 ½ cups fresh or thawed, frozen raspberries
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ⅓ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 oz white chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries
  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Make Basic Cream Puff Dough (see below).
  • For cream puff shell, spread cream puff dough over the bottom and halfway up sides of an ungreased 10-inch springform pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until entire surface is golden brown. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
  • For raspberry mousse, in a small bowl stir gelatin into lemon juice; set aside. In a food processor, puree 2½ cups raspberries. Press puree through a sieve placed over a small saucepan to remove seeds; discard seeds. Add granulated sugar to puree in saucepan; bring to boiling over medium heat. Add gelatin mixture; cook and stir 1 minute more or until gelatin is dissolved. Pour ¼ cup of the raspberry mixture into a small bowl and reserve at room temperature for glaze. Pour remaining raspberry mixture into a medium bowl or glass baking dish so depth is 1 inch or less; let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. In a large bowl, use whisk attachment of electric mixer to beat whipping cream and confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold in larger amount of raspberry mixture. Cover and chill 2 hours.
  • Depress any bubbles in cooled cream puff shell with back of spoon. Spread melted white chocolate over bottom and halfway up sides of cream puff. Cool until chocolate is firm.
  • Fill shell with raspberry mousse. Top with fresh raspberries. Spoon reserved raspberry glaze over berries. (If glaze becomes too firm, heat in microwave 3 to 5 seconds.) Assembled dessert may be chilled in a covered container up to 24 hours before serving.
Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Romans 12:13 NIV
Left: Choose one or two soft colors for your table decor. Shades of white and blush keep the place settings simple and elegant. Center: Bring life to any room with a bright bouquet featuring fresh blooms like peonies and hydrangea. Right: Treat guests to homemade cherry-almond and orange-cranberry scones.

Tea 101

All classically defined teas are made from the evergreen Camellia sinensis, with the tea type determined by the method used to process the leaves. The tea types are white, green, oolong and black. White and green teas contain less caffeine than oolong and black teas.

White tea
is first steamed and then dried before being packaged
and sold.

Green tea
may be allowed to wither for 8 to 24 hours before the leaves are either steamed or pan-fried. Leaves are then rolled and allowed to dry again before packaging. The steaming process keeps the leaves green, maintaining their health benefits and distinctive flavor.

Oolong tea
is partially withered, allowing oxidation to take place. The leaves are spread out in a cool area where they absorb oxygen, which turns the leaves a darker color. Leaves then get rolled or shaken in baskets to bruise their edges before they go through a short fermentation process. After being pan-fried or dried, the leaves are graded. Oolong teas vary in flavor, color and aroma; some are closer to black teas and some are similar to greens.

Black tea
is withered, rolled and then allowed to fully ferment. During the fermentation process, black tea turns as dark as possible. Once fermented, the tea undergoes a firing process. It is then graded and sold to buyers around the world.

Understanding tea is comparable to understanding fine wines. Variables like soil, altitude and weather affect a tea’s flavor. Many premium quality teas grow at higher altitudes where mountain mists, dew and humidity protect the plants from direct sunlight, allowing them to mature at a slower pace. 

The method of grading leaves can be confusing. Teas are graded by the size of the leaf or particle of the leaf. The grade does not necessarily relate to the quality of the tea’s taste. Typically, tea connoisseurs prefer a brewed whole-leaf tea, but many grades offer good taste and aroma. Tea experts say taste is a matter of personal preference, and they encourage tea lovers to try types and varieties from different parts of the world.

The four main grades of black tea are: Dust—small pieces of tea and tea dust; Fannings—small pieces of tea; Broken Leaf—small tea leaves or pieces of broken large leaves; and Whole Leaf—(the highest grade) whole leaves of the flowering tea plant. Hand or mechanical processing is also taken into account in black tea’s final grade, with hand-processed tea receiving a higher mark. 

There are many variations of teas, dependent on flavorings and blends. Interestingly, Earl Grey, one of world’s most popular teas for 200 years, is made from a strong black tea infused with bergamot oil. Another favorite, English breakfast tea, is a combination of black tea leaves from India and Sri Lanka.

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
Hebrews 13:16 NIV

Brewing Basics

Brewing a party-worthy pot of tea requires a bit more attention than putting a tea bag in a mug and pushing a few buttons on the microwave.

To get started, you’ll need to know which type of leaves you’re using, because each type requires a different water temperature and steeping time. To start, boil cold filtered water in a kettle. Have a thermometer ready. The teapot you will use to steep the tea should be warmed and rinsed thoroughly with hot water.

Place 1 teaspoon of leaves per cup of tea to be brewed into the teapot. Allow the boiled water to cool to 185°F for white tea, then pour water into the teapot and steep leaves for 4 to 15 minutes. For green tea, the temperature should be 160°F, with just 1 to 2 minutes for steeping.

Oolong and black teas require hotter water. Heat water to 200°F. Steep oolong for 1 to 9 minutes and black tea for 3 to 5 minutes. Herbal infusions, which are not considered true teas, require a higher temperature as well and should steep for about 5 minutes.

Always remove the leaves to keep your tea from becoming bitter. Keep an extra pot of heated water on hand for guests who wish to dilute their tea. While many people enjoy tea straight from the pot, others may want to sweeten it and/or add milk or cream.

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