Create the perfect Vintage Afternoon Tea Party

As luxurious as it is to have a vintage afternoon tea experience at a plush hotel or indulgent spa retreat, we love the idea of homely summer vintage tea parties using Vintage China and Kitchenware! Many of us are spending more time at home and reconnecting with family and friends and we love the idea of basking in that lovely late sunshine with some afternoon refreshments. 

Picture a Dining Table set for a baby shower and it probably features a few standard items of Kitchenware and Tableware. The beauty of a vintage tea party is that it still looks fabulous even if nothing matches. This is especially helpful for those of us who wouldn’t want to settle on one design - I mean, how on earth do you choose!? Floral, plain, stripes, gilding...So many patterns look great alongside simple designs - the choice is endless! When you mix and match you can always add to your china collection with any Vintage China finds. You might be lucky enough to to have inherited a family members antique China collection, if you have Granny’s kitchenware in a box somewhere be sure to have a rummage through as you could find some vintage treasures to appreciate!  Whether it’s Royal Doulton, Royal Albert, Colclough, Minton or Wedgewood, it’s sure to find a place at your party table and look amazing.
 
Cake stands
Place your selection of delicious cake on a couple of China cake stands  or perhaps a simple stainless steel  or wooden cake stand. You could also use some vintage plates or glass cake plates to serve these on, but we love the difference in height with a tiered cake stand. If you can’t find anything that you fall in love with, why not look at making your own using three tiered cake stand using vintage plates and a cake stand fitting - check out this tutorial on how to make a vintage centrepiece for your table. Don't forget a cake slice or knife.
 
Platters
Vintage platters or meat plates are ideal for serving sandwiches, quiches, nibbles and other finger food. These versatile large oval platters are an essential to keep in the kitchen cupboard if you entertain more than a few guests. Great for serving hot or cold meats, they also come in handy around the Christmas period. We stock a good selection of large vintage plates and platters of various shapes and sizes.
 
Vintage teapots and milk jugs
A cup of tea is central to your social gathering! A pot of tea can be a talking point, a conversation starter and takes a little more time to make and encourages social connection. Allowing the tea to properly infuse for a length of time provides a more authentic tea flavour. Believe it or not, the teapot itself actually can enhance the flavour or your cuppa, with ceramic teapots being slightly porous they can retain some of the flavour that is brewed within them. There are some beautiful vintage teapots on our website, and you might also spot some of our novelty teapots in various shapes and designs. Stagger some vintage milk jugs throughout the table
Vintage china cups and saucers
As we said earlier, don’t stress about making everything match. We source lovely vintage tea cups and separate saucers, or part tea sets that are just as deserving of a place on your table as a full antique tea service. Floral bone china looks beautiful at a vintage tea party, and so do mismatched tea cups in the same colour scheme! Unless you absolutely must have perfection, a little faded gilding or faint crazing adds to the character of these true vintage tea cups. You’ll find a wide choice in our china collection. You could also use a few teacups to present teaspoons at the table.
Vintage compote or tazza
There are many other foods that you could add to a tea party and fruit is always a nice addition. Rather than a plate or bowl, try a stemmed compote to add some height or perhaps a vintage cut glass tazza. Vintage glass bowls are lovely filled with the pastel colours of sugared almonds, for those that just want a little sweet treat.
Vintage plates and cutlery
Small plates or side plates are perfect for afternoon refreshments, guests will graze and help themselves, gradually trying your delicious spread.  Serving finger foods will reduce the amount of cutlery that you need and you probably will only need to provide some dainty teaspoons and forks, vintage cake forks are beautiful if you have some. Cut cakes and quiches into smaller pieces before presenting them at the dinner table. We source many individual plates and sets of vintage plates from side plates and sandwich plates to large dinner plates.
Napkins and vintage tablecloths
Pull everything together with a vintage tablecloth, or lacy table mats and a selection of vintage napkins. Tablecloths cover a multitude of sins on your dining table, and builds a lovely layered look. You can find a variety of table linens in our tableware collection.
Vintage glassware 
We know that a good cup of British tea is what we expect at afternoon tea, but be sure to have some glass jugs and hi ball water glasses on hand. For the ultimate grown up tea party, pop the cork on some Prosecco or champers and pour into some beautiful vintage champagne flutes or treat your guests with antique crystal glasses! Visit our glassware or barware collection to find everything you need.
 
Glass Sweet Jars
Another 'sweet' touch is using glass confectionary jars on the table full of your favourite sweet treats or nuts. These sweet jars can be found in a variety of sizes and glass styles. Small jars filled with treats can make lovely favours for guests at a baby shower or anniversary party.
So how did we end up with afternoon tea? It turns out that we have a lot to thank the 7th Duchess of Bedford for. At some point during the early 19th Century, poor Duchess Anna was finding herself struggling with the long gap between lunch and dinner. She found that a selection of cake, sandwiches and tea at around 4pm was the perfect filler. And so started the tradition of Afternoon tea. It became a social affair for the middle and upper class houses to meet with friends. It gathered momentum again during the Victorian era when her lifelong friend, Queen Victoria began holding large afternoon tea events.
 
Afternoon tea in modern times is more of a meal in its own sense, replacing the need for lunch or dinner. The other huge difference is that it is no longer a daily occurrence or necessity as it was for the Duchess. It’s now an indulgent treat to look forward to and to share with friends and family.  They have become the perfect gatherings for birthdays, quieter hen parties, anniversary celebrations and baby showers, whilst vintage crockery and antique tableware has become a delightful feature.
The most delicious food for your tea party
Afternoon tea generally consists of a variety of cakes, pastries and sandwiches. Crustless finger sandwiches are  definitely on the menu, with favourite fillings such as egg and cress, smoked salmon and the traditional British cucumber sandwich. Cakes could include the traditional Victoria sponge, french fancies, fruit tarts, macaroons and a variety of small sponge cakes. Living in Cornwall, afternoon tea isn’t complete without a Cornish Cream Tea. The fluffiest scones you can find, with generous helpings of jam and Cornish clotted cream (and yes, we do recommend jam first!). Interestingly, scones have become a more recent addition to an afternoon tea, but we believe they fit in absolutely perfectly. 
However you choose to style your afternoon tea, we hope it's marvellous.

Kernow Furniture is online store based near Redruth, Cornwall. We hold a large selection of furniture and decorative items. You can find many eras and styles of antique, retro, and vintage furniture, homeware and gifts. We offer fast national delivery on all items. We welcome viewings by appointment on 01209 316220.

June 19, 2021 — Benita Ellis-Kelly

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