A tea party, Sometimes called afternoon tea, is a formal and ritual gathering among-st friends.
When at a formal tea party you will often see prestige utensil made of porcelain, bone china and/or silver. Of course the table is made to look its absolute prettiest, beautifully designed plates, cups and even matching cloth napkins. Some parties may even provide a punch of some sorts and hot chocolate in cold weather. You can have an array of tea flavors for your guest to choose from. The tea is accompanied by a variety of finger foods that are easily prepared, such as: thin sandwiches with tomato and cucumber, biscuits, cookies, scones, buns or rolls, and cake slices.
You still see formal tea parties to this date, They are usually a huge part of some debutante in affluent American communities. They were originally featured in great houses in the Edwardian and Victorian Eras in the United Kingdom. As well as the Gilded Age in the United States and in the continental Europe (France, Germany and Russian Empire).
When they first started, the servants weren’t even allowed inside the room while the tea party was going on. They had to wait outside until someone had rung them in, which usually was only to bring in fresh water, dishes or to remove dirty ones. This speaks to not only how rigidity of the social convention at the time, but how intimate the afternoon tea parties were. Until World War II this was a common practice, but then economic changes occurred because of the war and then household servants become a rarity.
Although nowadays you don’t need to make tea parties so formal all the time. You can have something quaint and sweet with just as much intimate conversation as you would like. Something that was less formal of a tea party was usually called a Kettle Drum. This was first started in the 18th and 19th centuries which may have been so named due to British camp officers’ wives. It is rumored that during East India Company rule or the British occupation of India, that Kettle drums are claimed to have been used as table during afternoon teas. It is also said that the name could have derived simply by “drum” being a slang term for a vivacious party and “kettle” in which the tea was served in. You didn’t have to get all fancied up for these afternoon teas for guest were only expected to wear ordinary daytime visiting. It was a less intimate setting with people able to come and go as they please and could mingle with no formality at all. Of course there was still good food to be had as there was always tea, chocolate, lemonade, cakes and sandwiches provided.
I like to think of Tea Parties as a time of celebrating and getting creative and also dressing up.