High Tea, Low Impact: Throw a Green Tea Party
The return of Downton Abbey to the states has sparked a trend for all-things British. While not everyone can visit Highclere Castle, the setting for the ITV/PBS series, holding a high tea is the next best way to bring a little bit of Britain into your home. (If you aren't a fan of the hit drama then keep in mind that January is National Hot Tea Month and there's no better way to celebrate your favorite beverage.)
Adding a green touch to your next tea party is an enterprising idea that even the Dowager would approve of. Here are some ways you can do it:
To party in true Grantham style, be selective about what tea you serve. Look for organic and fair trade labels when choosing a blend. See if there is a tea maker near you or make your own mix.
There are a multitude of other ways to green your tea choices, like buying loose-leaf and composting used tea leaves.
Tea sandwiches don't have to be so last season. Spice up the classic cucumber with local greens that are in season, like arugula, watercress, or dandelion greens. A simple egg-salad can be made with free-range eggs, or for a vegan option, try tofu and Vegenaise.
Make your plate even more special by using gluten-free bread or making it yourself (but don't let Mrs. Patmore know you were in the kitchen).
It wouldn't be a proper high tea without scones and cream. You can make vegan scones and clotted cream, or even a gluten-free version. For the finishing touch, try a local jam or make a batch yourself.
If you simply can't be bothered to make your own baked goods, take this opportunity to walk or bike to a local bakery and jazz up your dessert tray with locally sourced macarons, tarts, and muffins.
Instead of disposable plates, use your own dishes and silverware. If you must have something fancier to serve your sandos, take a trip to the local thrift shop. The china may not be Royal Doulton, but it'll be snazzier than paper plates and plastic cups.
The doilies your family has been amassing for generations can finally be put to good use. Throw some around every conceivable surface to add some old-timey charm. Don't have doilies on hand? Make it a crafternoon tea party and then everyone can participate.
Instead of buying cut flowers for your centerpiece, use living plants. African violets are ready-made for fancy decoration with their tiny, inoffensive blossoms. A pot of lavender will add an especially classy aroma to the affair.
Need an accessory to set yourself apart from the downstairs staff? Try making your own tea party appropriate headgear. A tissue paper hat can be easily constructed or a fascinator thrown together in the time it takes to watch the newest episode.
Try one, or all, of these sustainable ideas for your next Downton get-together and you'll be the talk of the town (in a good way).
-- top image iStockphoto/madtartan
Bianca Hernandez is an editorial intern at Sierra. She recently received her MA in Visual Anthropology from the University of Southern California and has written for various publications.