Entertaining · Holidays · Party/Tablescapes

Hearts, Flowers, and Tea? A Valentine's Day Tea

I’ve always loved afternoon tea. Well, actually that’s not true. When I was young, I was a dyed in the wool coffee drinker. I used to say of tea, “why would anybody want to drink wet leaves?” This was before I went to Jamaica on my honeymoon. We stayed at this beautiful old British colonial style inn.

The Jamaica Inn, Ocho Rios, Jamaica 1989

Each room had an open air loggia covered in bougainvillea. And even though it was hot as blazes, every afternoon at 4 p.m. a white-gloved waiter would serve us tea and digestive biscuits while we sat and looked out on the sparkling aquamarine waters of the Carribean.

Our loggia overlooking the Carribean

It was amazing and fancy, and we were very young, unsophisticated and totally out of our element. Now, I don’t know if it was the romance of the place or what, but ever since then, I have acquired a taste for tea. Not just any tea, mind you, I like Earl Grey with a splash of milk just the way the English serve it. And when I discovered the full cream tea with cucumber sandwiches, cakes, and scones with Devonshire cream, I became a tea convert for life.

When we travel, we always try to find a lovely little inn, tea room or swanky hotel that serves afternoon tea so that we can indulge. We also had a tradition when our girls were little to take them to a Christmas Tea at the William Penn Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh. They would get all dressed up in their holiday finery, and they’d bring their American Girl dolls along to sip hot chocolate and look at the decorations. It was magical.

My husband, our daughters and their dolls at tea

There is just something so civilized and comforting about the ritual of pouring and sipping this hot, fragrant brew while popping all manner of goodies into your gob.

My eldest daughter when she was five having a tea party.  A tea party is always a great idea, even when it’s pretend.

One time we took our kids to this crazy over-the-top tea house where they just kept bringing plate after plate of scrumptious delicacies. Totally stuffed, we had just polished off a plate of beautifully decorated tea cakes and were preparing to pay the bill when the server swooped in and placed yet another plate groaning with enormous cream puffs in the center of the table, announcing with a flourish  “and now for the final dessert!” We couldn’t stop laughing. This made such an impression that it has continued to be a family joke as every time they’ve eaten their last bite of cake, pie, or whatever, my kids will ask “now that we’ve finished that, what are we having for the final dessert?”

This is all to say that when I think of a Valentine’s Day celebration that expresses romance or even just love of my family, I think of afternoon tea. I always serve two different kinds of loose tea (usually Earl Grey and something like English Breakfast) as well as hot chocolate for the unenlightened who have not embraced the leaf.

This year for Vday I set my table with my antique teapots, my collection of mismatched china plates, cups and saucers, silver tea strainers, flowers, etched crystal goblets and crisp white linens.

Stacked different sized footed glass plates make a nice tiered server for goodies.
I planted colorful primrose plants in a variety of antique teacups.
Glass footed compote filled with red and white carnations adds color to the buffet.
This lusterware teapot is one of my favorite pieces.

Chocolate Valentine hearts at each place makes a nice gift for each guest.

Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to set a pretty table, share a pot of tea, and gobble up some sweet treats with your loved ones but as you sample all the tea sandwiches, scones and petit forts always remember to save room for the final dessert.


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5 thoughts on “Hearts, Flowers, and Tea? A Valentine's Day Tea

  1. How fun, I never thought about Tea for Valentine’s Day celebration. Earl Grey is my favorite tea as well, a splash of milk and a smidge of sugar.
    I love your tea table. It looks so festive. Your tea cups are beautiful.
    Enjoy your Valentine’s Day

  2. This is so lovely, the table is fabulous. I have fond memories of a tea my mother organized for my grandmothers one Valentines Day after both of my grandfathers had passed– it was such a nice day.

  3. What sweet memories, both of your honeymoon and your cuties at their first afternoon teas! Your table looks so festive and perfect for the cozy, culinary treat that awaits your guests.

    I was the opposite – I switched from a lifetime of tea to a love affair with coffee, from one moment to the next! I still have the occasional cup of organic green/jasmine, and like you, enjoy it with my daughter.

    Visiting from Maria Elena’s,

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words about my post. Whether it’s over coffee or tea, I hope you get to connect with your daughter. Have a happy Valentine’s Day!

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