China Tea with Milk, Sugar, Jam, or Lemon
Cucumber Dill Sandwiches
Roast Beef with Horseradish and Rocket Sandwiches
Oatcakes, Stilton, Keen's Farmhouse Cheddar, Gherkins,
and an array of fresh summer fruit
Deviled Eggs with Chives
Bilberry and Gin Jellies
Inspiration for the menu was gleaned from Jane Austen's novels, as well as historical accounts from the Georgian period. Of course, in the end it is a thoroughly modern take on what might have been. Nearly everything for the spread was homemade, and even with a modern kitchen the amount of effort it took was enormous. What a production this would have been in the days of wood-fired ovens, ice houses, and boiling pigs' feet. Truly a tea party is a special occasion, an event of great acclaim.
The tea was a combination of Chinese black and green, reminiscent of an English Breakfast tea, but with a more herbaceous quality. Served with all the accompaniments varying tastes could desire, including jam, if one was prone to taking it à la russe.
Pork pies, sandwiches, and deviled eggs provide for those with more of an appetite, and satisfy any men that might be in attendance. A cascade of light nibbles, including the traditional Stilton and Farmhouse Clothbound Cheddar cheeses, are the other savories.
What everyone really wants, however, are the sweets. Glazed cakelets made in individual molds, served with the best of summer berries. A man might give up his fortune for those strawberries; red as rubies and sweet as new love.
Lemon ices are a must at any social gathering, especially in the heat of the summer. Cold, tart, and sweet, they are perfection to keep you cool while the gossip heats up.
Last but not least, Bilberry and Gin Jellies. Sweet, a bit tipsy, and a testament to the cook of the house. Party attendees may blush while eating, given the naughty jiggle that jellies are wont to make. If there are any clergy in your group, perhaps invite them to take a tour of the house while these are being served.
For the would be hostess, remember that now is the time for showing off. Display your wealth and standing as befits your position, or at least for the position you desire. Perhaps your patron will let you borrow their silver or crystal. Be mindful of the cost, but keep in mind that "a large income is the best recipe for happiness." So even if you don't have much, you should pretend like you do for the sake of your guests. For after all is said and done, a successful event is its own reward.
Jane Austen herself may be gone, but her legacy remains. Honor whatever influence she may have had on your life by throwing your own Jane Austen tea party. Consult your almanac, pick a day where the sun will be shining but not so much as to obscure the view of your choosing, be it man, woman, or nature. Send out your invitations, plan your menu, and prepare for a pleasurable afternoon spent in good company. For even though, "to sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment," it can't hurt to have a little food and fun as well.