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History Tea Parties, Soirees and Afternoon Tea

Discussion in 'Foods of the Civil War' started by donna, Oct 7, 2013.

  1. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    Tea was a family affair. It included family, friends and acquaintances. The eldest daughter of the household or the youngest married woman poured the tea.

    The difference between a gathering of family for tea and a social gathering was in the atmosphere and the formality. A country tea involved " sitting around the tea table, with hot biscuits, and apple pies, or sweet meats and milk, or some such nice things. But in the city...we cannot sit round table, and only have a little toast, or bread and butter, and cake, and it is not half as sociable." Margaret Bayard Smith, "A Winter in Washington or memoirs of the Seymour Family", 1824.

    The Tea Hour could be any where from three to five in the afternoon. Sometimes the tea hour extended into the evening with singing, dancing, cards and chess. Gossip was exchanged and social and economic events were discussed.

    In the large cities, tea parties were an important event and part of the social schedule.
     

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  3. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    The concept of a formalized afternoon tea ceremony originated in the 1840s in England by Anna, Duchess of Bedford. In the early 19th century, it was common to eat a hearty breakfast, a light luncheon and then dine late in the evening. Anna decided that tea and cakes would satisfy the hunger pains from light luncheon to late dinner. This repast was popular with her society friends and soon popular all across England with fashionable ladies. it was served in the drawing room or parlor at 4 or 5 o'clock. They ate dainty sandwiches and delicate cakes from fine china and exchanges the news of the day. This also became popular in America.

    "At Home" teas were popular in the Victorian period. Ladies who wished to entertain their friends would send cards stating they were "At Home". The hostess would serve tea with bread and butter, cake, petits-fours and fresh fruit, daintily arranged on plates.

    from: "A Dish of Tea", by Susan N. Street.
     
  4. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    Tea was introduced in 1600s by Dutch settlers. It first was used for its curative powers. At first it was expensive and only the wealthy served it. By time of Revolution it was served in many homes. With the opposition to Tea Tax and Revolution, tea became unpopular. After the Revolution, tea drinking became popular again. The price of tea fell, and more people could afford it. By the 1800s, teapots were found in over half of all American households.

    Tea and its associated serving pieces were considered status symbols. Many middle-class hostesses served tea socially. They hoped by association with the tea ceremony, the guests would think the hostess was "genteel and well-mannered".

    from: "A Dish of Tea" by Susan N. Street.
     
  5. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    Here is another thread of mine on tea. The afternoon tea is making a comeback in Kentucky for both families and tea rooms. In the November issue, which I received yesterday, of "Kentucky Living" magazine, the main article is "Tea Power How an old custom is brewing up family traditions."

    It discusses different families across the state, hosting tea parties in the afternoon for extended families, It also lists several tearooms and cafes where you can sit, sip and spend quality time with family and friends.

    One annual event, started 2007, is the Christmas Tea at historic Wickland in Bardstown, Ky. It is a very old home and was actually home to three early governors of Kentucky. They have website www.historicwickland.com.

    They will have this event December 7-8 this year. The house will be decorated in decorations of the period and all hostesses will be dressed in period costumes. (19th century). They will have a spread of five sandwiches (Benedictine, pimiento cheese, country ham, chicken salad, and turkey pinwheels with vegetable cream cheese), five desserts ( a light cookie known as a Lacey, applesauce spice cake with homemade caramel icing, mint brownies, Victorian lemon pound cake, and Wickland whimsies, a miniature chocolate pecan tart), all served with three varieties of hot tea.
     
  6. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    This stayed with women for quite awhile. I tend to browse old newspapers for content for quite a few reasons- one of them is finding mention of family members. There were several Post War ( but begun around the end of the war ) groups in the area my family is from in NY, where ladies would gather for this exact type of tea, during which some educational program would be presented. These females didn't fool around, either. It was always the poems of some literary figure, or Richard III- requiring serious discussion, not frou frou, frivolous, typically feminine subjects. My grgrgrandmother and grgrandmother belonged to something called The Wednesday Afternoon Club, which also used their dues for charity, from what I can see. This group was probably typical- modeled after others of the same stripe elsewhere in the country.
     
  7. RobertP

    RobertP Major

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    My wife is a serious tea drinker. Every month or two we drive over to Grapevine to the British Emporium and stock up on brands you can get in the supermarkets. The place is run and frequented by Brits, where they do some their grocery shopping for those unique British delicacies. I'll usually get a jar of marmalade and some Cadbury candy but stay away from the Haggis and Spotted Dick. :unsure:
     
  8. FarawayFriend

    FarawayFriend Captain Silver Patron Trivia Game Winner

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    I seriously like the tea ceremony. We have attended the "High Tea" in several hotels in Germany and abroad and love it. And your decriptions, donna, are really mouthwatering! I could do with a cup of tea and some sandwiches and cakes just now, it's lunchtime here.
    On Fridays we do have tea in the afternoon at home and it has become a ritual. We have tea and cakes, chat and read some of the latest gossip magazines (which I always get fresh because my husband is a doctor and has subscribed them for the patients. Would never spend any money for them, but reading them is funny). So this thread just fits in on my Friday afternoon! Thank you!
     
  9. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    One of my most memorable afternoon teas was at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. My Mom and I went when I was about 10. We were all dressed up, white gloves and all. It was a wonderful day with my Mom. One day I cherish forever.
     
  10. Seduzal

    Seduzal 2nd Lieutenant

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    My wife also likes tea, with fresh lemon, specially the herbal tea / lemon.
    I am a coffee drinker, :smile coffee: but I will drink a little tea once in awhile.
     
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  11. FarawayFriend

    FarawayFriend Captain Silver Patron Trivia Game Winner

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    I also drink quite a lot of coffee, but tea (and the sweets that come with it) is something special, the little "extra" on weekend afternoons. All these delicious varieties ... I like best Earl Grey Tea.
    A few years ago we had "High Tea" at the "Empress" Hotel in Victoria, Vancouver Island - very stylish. We made lots of fotos of the food and were given a box of their special tea mixture to take home. A very lovely souvenir.
     
  12. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    Five Steps To Good Tea:

    1. Fill kettle with cold filtered water and apply heat.
    2. Warm teapot with a bit of hot water. Discard this water before adding tea.
    3. Add one teaspoon of tea per cup to the pot.
    4. Pour hot water over the tea leaves.
    5. After four minutes, remove the leaves.

    From Bruce Richardson, Elmwood Inn Fine Teas, Danville, Ky.
     
  13. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    As I had posted they will be serving Lacey Cookies at Tea at Wickland. Here is a recipe for Lace (Lacey) cookies. They are called this because they so thin and have little holes and you can see through them like lace.

    Lace Cookies, sandwich type

    1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    pinch of salt
    1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
    1/3 cup butter, melted
    2 tablespoons heavy cream
    2 tablespoons light corn syrup
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 ounces dark chocolate, melted

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper. Set aside.

    In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and oats. Set aside.

    In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter, cream, corn syrup and vanilla. Mix with the beater blade until smooth. Slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix to combine.


    Drop about 3/4 of a teaspoon of batter onto prepared baking sheets. Try to make the cookies all the same size. Place only 12 cookies on each sheet because the cookies will spread in the oven.

    Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes. Carefully transfer cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.

    Find 2 cookies that are about the same size. Spread one cookie with melted chocolate. Place other cookie on top. Repeat with remaining cookies.

    These make 20 sandwich cookies.
     
  14. FarawayFriend

    FarawayFriend Captain Silver Patron Trivia Game Winner

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    I'm afraid this is beyond my abilities as a cookie maker. But ist sounds really good! :hungry:
    I can do the solid stuff, shortbread and so on ...
     
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  15. Seduzal

    Seduzal 2nd Lieutenant

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    That's the way my wife makes her tea!
     
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  16. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    Some of you may already know this, but here are proper water temperatures for different teas.

    White or green teas: 165 t0 175 degrees F.

    Oolong teas: 200 degrees F.

    Black teas/herbals/infusions: 212 degrees F.

    Information from Bruce Richardson. Elmwood Inn Fine Teas, Danville, Ky.
     
  17. FarawayFriend

    FarawayFriend Captain Silver Patron Trivia Game Winner

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    During the 1980s here in Germany aromatized Black Teas were the thing to serve when you had your friends over for a visit. We had Blackcurrant Tea, Plum Tea, Vanilla Tea, Orange Tea, Whiskey Tea (!), Caramel Tea and lots more. Do you know these varieties also in America? Vanilla Tea and Orange Tea have survived until now and although real tea buffs diss them, I have to admit that I like Orange Tea very much.
     
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  18. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    We have many flavored and aromatized teas here. I noticed two new ones at grocery, Pumpkin Spice Tea and Apple Cider Tea. We like many of them including Orange Tea which you mentioned.
     
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  19. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    I am bringing this thread back up as September 3rd is the birthday of Anna Russell, the Duchess of Bedford and the "originator" of the British afternoon tea. She was born on Sept. 3, 1783 and was a lifelong friend of Queen Victoria.

    There is something so special about the "Afternoon Tea Meal".
     
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  20. nitrofd

    nitrofd Colonel

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    Donna, why don't you post some info on the little tea sandwiches that go with high tea like cucumber and scones.
     
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  21. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Captain Forum Host

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