Tea may be served as an accompaniment to meals or with small sandwiches, dainty cakes, or macaroons as an afternoon ceremony. If it is served with meals and is poured at the table, the hostess or the one pouring asks those to be served whether they desire sugar and cream and then uses these accompaniments accordingly. In the event that it is brought to the table poured, the sugar and cream are passed and those served may help themselves to what they desire. Lemon adds much to the flavor of tea and is liked by most persons. A dish of sliced lemon may be passed with the cream and sugar or placed where the hostess may add it to the tea. The Russians, who are inveterate tea drinkers, prepare this beverage by putting a slice of lemon in the cup and then pouring the hot tea over it. If this custom is followed, the lemons should be washed and sliced very thin and the seeds should be removed from the slices. The flavor may also be improved by sticking a few cloves in each slice of lemon; or, if the clove flavor is desired, several cloves may be put in the teapot when the tea is made. The illustration shows slices of lemons ready to be served with tea.
Some of them, as will be observed, have cloves stuck in them.
Lemon is almost always served with iced tea, for it adds a delightful flavor. If it is not squeezed into the glass, it should be cut into quarters or eighths lengthwise and then cut across so that small triangular pieces are formed. These are much easier to handle than whole slices.
In the serving of afternoon tea, the pouring of the tea is the main thing, and the remainder of the service simply complements this pleasant ceremony. Tiny sandwiches, small cakes, or macaroons usually accompany the tea, while such confections as candied orange peel, stuffed dates, or salted nuts are often served also. When sandwiches are used, they may be merely bread-and-butter sandwiches or they may contain marmalade or any desired filling. The principal requirement is that they be made as small and thin as possible, so that they will be extremely dainty in appearance.
A tea cozy is a convenient device to use when tea is served from the pot. It consists of a padded cap, or cover, that may be slipped over the teapot to prevent the heat from escaping after the tea is infused. It is made of several thicknesses of material in a shape and size that will slip over the teapot easily and can then be removed when the tea is to be poured. This can be made very attractive by means of a nicely embroidered cover.
This illustration shows an attractive table that may be used for serving tea.
The top folds over vertically, so that when the table is not in use it may be disposed of by placing it against the wall of a room. This table holds nothing except the pot containing the tea, which must be made in the kitchen and placed in the pot before it is brought to the table, the sugar and cream, the teacups, and the lemon. Sandwiches, wafers, or cakes that are to be served with the tea should be passed to the guests.
This illustration shows a tea wagon and the equipment for making tea, with the sandwiches and cakes to be served arranged on a muffin stand, or Lazy Susan.
When tea is to be made with an equipment of this kind, the water is heated in the little kettle by means of the alcohol burner. The can with the long spout contains an extra supply of alcohol with which to keep the burner filled. The tea ball, which is in the little glass, is filled with tea and the boiling water is poured over it into each cup. The ball is allowed to remain until the tea is of the desired strength, when it is removed and used for another cup, provided sufficient strength remains in the tea leaves.
The silver tea caddy at the back of the wagon contains the tea, and lemon with a fork for serving it is on a small plate near the front of the wagon. Napkins and plates for the cakes and sandwiches are on the lower part of the wagon. The napkins and plates are first passed; then the tea is served with the sandwiches, after which cakes are served.