Throw a proper tea for Mother’s Day

Scripps Howard NewspapersMay 7, 2013 

Celebrate Mother’s Day by inviting Mom and other close female relatives, girlfriends and their daughters to a sumptuous afternoon tea. A lavish spread of decadent sweets and springtime decor sets a festive tone, and it might even encourage guests to be on their most ladylike behavior.

Embrace warm spring weather by setting up a table on the lawn. Highlight the natural beauty of the outdoors by topping a simple white linen tablecloth with burlap and ferns potted in terra cotta.

Cake stands and pedestals piled high with sweet treats serve as delicious centerpieces. This is not the time for sensible eating: Finger sandwiches, sugar-dusted cookies, macaroons and petit fours are delicious ways to indulge.

Delight guests of all ages with tiny tea sandwiches shaped like fluttering butterflies. Using a butterfly cookie cutter, cut shapes from thin white bread. Toast under the broiler for one minute on each side, then cut half of the butterflies down the center to make “wings.” Place a teaspoon of pate, herbed goat cheese or salmon spread in the middle of the whole butterflies, then stick two wings into the spread at a 45-degree angle. Add thin slices of cucumber or radish to the sandwiches for a pop of color.

Adding a few store-bought treats to the menu helps lighten the load on the hostess. Miniature cupcakes topped with a single red raspberry are a perfect choice and appear very dressed up when presented on pretty glass cake stands of varying heights and sizes.

Every good hostess should learn the basics of brewing a proper cup of tea. Bring cold water to a boil, then remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes. In a teapot, toss in a teaspoon of tea leaves for each cup you are making and fill pot with boiled water. Let steep for three minutes for green teas, four minutes for full-leaf black tea. Pour the tea into cups, using a strainer to catch leaves.

Adapted from Camille Styles, editor of, on

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