St. Patrick’s Day Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea Fare
Three-tier Server Brimming with Afternoon Tea Fare

I love an elegant afternoon tea on any given day of the year but there are certain holidays and special days that really open up many options for creative and inspiring tea events. For me, St. Patrick’s Day is one of them as the colors of the Ireland flag are great inspiration for the color theme of the tea table as well as for the food itself. What follows is my Irish-themed St. Patrick’s Day Afternoon Tea.

At the outset, I do not have recipes published and available for everything seen on my tea table. However, for those published recipes, I will include a hotlink to them on my website.

So, this is what my tea table looks like overall. You can easily detect that the color theme is distinctly green, orange, and white, the colors of the Ireland flag. And, I have pulled out some favorite pieces from my Shamrock china collection.

St. Paddy's Day Afternoon Tea
St. Patrick’s Day Afternoon Tea

The Irish linen tea table topper and matching napkins were purchased at the Blarney Castle in Ireland many years ago. They make an appearance on my tea table every year around St. Patrick’s Day and bring back great memories of Ireland.

Irish Themed Table Topper
Shamrock Table Topper

The set came with four teatime-sized napkins. Today, I have used a simple triangular fold so that the green embroidered edge of the napkins would be visible.

Irish Linen
Shamrock-themed Napkin

My choice of flowers for today’s tea table are lovely orange tulips grown here in PEI by Vanco Farms in Mt. Albion, not far from Charlottetown. You can read my story on Vanco’s tulip growing operation by clicking here. I have included a few sprigs of Bells of Ireland and some white Stephanotis.

Bouquet of Orange Tulips
Tea Table Bouquet

I have a selection of St. Patricks Day themed china cups to choose from and have chosen two that I think complement each other well. The one below is from Royal Albert’s Ancestral Series and the pattern is aptly called “Emerald Isle”.

Irish cup and saucer
Royal Albert’s Emerald Isle Cup and Saucer

The shape of the cup is Gainsborough and features a very comfortable angel wing handle. The pattern on the cup displays a stone bridge over an Irish lake with mountains in the background. Of course, the pattern features lots of shamrocks, both on the outside and on the interior of the cup. The matching gold-trimmed, scallop-edged saucer replicates the cup’s pattern, including the stone bridge which appears in the center of the saucer surrounded by sprays of shamrocks.

Emerald Isle Cup and Saucer
Royal Albert’s Emerald Isle Cup and Saucer

The second cup I have selected is more plain but elegant in its simplicity, nonetheless. This one was produced by Duchess Fine Bone China and features garlands and small sprays of shamrocks scattered around the white cup and matching saucer that features a garland of shamrocks around its edge.

Shamrock Cup and Saucer
Duchess Fine Bone China Shamrock Cup and Saucer

This cup features ribbed panels all around the cup and has gold trim on the cup rim and foot and the saucer is gilt accented around its edge.

Shamrock Cup and Saucer
Duchess Fine Bone China Shamrock Cup and Saucer

Unless it is a very formal afternoon tea event, I do not see a need for all the china to be from a matched set. So long as the pieces work with the theme and are in the same color family, mix-and-match china can work and can make a tea table quite interesting.

Of course, no afternoon tea table would be complete without a teapot and, naturally, I would choose one that has shamrocks!

Shamrock Teapot
Shamrock Teapot

How cute is this little creamer adorned with Shamrocks!

Shamrock Creamer

Nothing says its an afternoon tea event better than a three-tier server! Apart from having such an elegant air, three-tier servers are actually very useful and an efficient way to serve afternoon tea fare. Many tea tables are very small so space is at a premium and a three-tier server takes up less space than separate plates of food, for example. As well, all the food can be brought to the table at the same time, allowing the host or hostess to sit and enjoy time with guests.

Afternoon Tea Fare
Three-tier Server with Sandwiches, Scones, and Sweets

Let’s take a closer look at what’s on the St. Patrick’s Day Afternoon Tea server. Food is displayed in the traditional manner and in the sequence in which the food is to be consumed at an afternoon tea event. That is, sandwiches on the lowest (and largest) plate are eaten first, the scones on the middle plate are consumed next, and the desserts on the top (and smallest) plate are the tempting sweet endings.

I have included five different sandwich offerings on today’s afternoon tea menu: Egg Salad, Honey-roasted Ham and Mustard with Irish Porter Cheese imported from Ireland, Tomato and Smoked Turkey, Chicken Salad Sandwiches, and open-faced Cucumber Sandwiches with herb goat cheese.

It goes without saying that all afternoon tea sandwiches must be crust-free, presented on thinly sliced bread, and cut in small shapes, generally about 2-3 bites each. It’s important to choose breads that will hold together well when picked up by the fingers.

My sandwiches today are presented on two new bread recipes I developed over the winter, a white bread and a whole wheat bread. Here, I have opted for the straight cut finger sandwiches with the exception of the square-shaped open-faced cucumber sandwiches. I find finger sandwiches are always elegant looking and plate well.

Tea Sandwiches
Finger Tea Sandwiches

I usually figure on 3-5 varieties of sandwiches for an afternoon tea event. The number of sandwiches calculated per person is dependent on size of sandwiches and their content. Though there is no hard and fast rule on the number of sandwiches, certainly, 4-5 petite sandwiches (like those shown in photo above) per person would be adequate. I may have gone a wee bit overboard on the sandwiches for this event!

Egg Salad Sandwiches are one of the most traditional (and popular) sandwiches found on afternoon tea sandwich plates.

Tea Sandwiches
Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches

Honey Roasted Ham and Mustard are paired with Cahill’s Irish Porter Cheese to make tasty sandwiches.

Ham and Cheese Tea Sandwiches
Honey-roasted Ham and Irish Porter Cheese Tea Sandwiches

Orange Tomato and Smoked Turkey Sandwiches are colorful additions to the sandwich tray.

Tomato Sandwiches
Tomato and Smoked Turkey Tea Sandwiches

Chicken Salad Sandwiches on whole wheat bread are very filling sandwiches.

Tea Sandwiches
Chicken Salad Sandwiches

I like to include at least one open-faced sandwich on my sandwich plates for interest and variety. Today, it is cucumber with herb goat cheese on white bread.

Tea Sandwiches
Open-faced Cucumber Sandwiches

I made Matcha Green Tea Scones for teatime today. Their natural green color blends in with the color scheme well.

Teatime Scones
Matcha Green Tea Scones

The scones are served, always fresh and most effectively still warm from the oven, with English Double Cream and Orange Jam. The scones also have a hint of orange in them so the Orange Jam pairs very well with them. I typically figure on a couple of scones per person. I like to tuck the scones into a napkin on the plate to keep them as warm as possible since they are the second course of the afternoon tea, enjoyed after the sandwich course.

Clotted Cream and Jam for Scones
English Double Cream and Orange Jam for Scones

Scones should have a lovely tender crumb and not be cut apart with a knife; rather, they should be tender enough that they will easily break apart with the hands. The scone should then be further broken apart into bite size pieces and the toppings applied to each piece with a knife.

Scones with cream and jam
Matcha Green Tea Scones with English Double Cream and Orange Jam

And, as to whether it is the Double Cream or the jam that is best applied first to the scones (always a debate!), I think it’s lovely either way though I believe the jam shows better on top of the cream!

Scones with Jam and Cream
Matcha Green Tea Scones with Cream and Jam

The dessert plate on the top of the three-tier server contains dainty sweet offerings.  When calculating the number of sweets needed, I usually figure on a variety of 3-4 sweet items, one per person. Today, I included Matcha Green Tea and Mango Panna Cotta, Millionnaire Squares, Orange Madeleines, and Irish Whiskey Balls. To make the Whiskey Balls, I used my Right Some Good Rum Balls recipe and substituted whiskey for the rum.

Teatime Desserts
St. Patrick’s Day Afternoon Tea Dessert Plate

Like the sandwiches and scones, desserts for afternoon tea should be quite small in serving size. I often like to include a signature dessert on my afternoon tea dessert plate and, today, that is the Matcha Green Tea and Mango Panna Cotta served in small liqueur glasses. The Panna Cotta’s color scheme is quite striking and fits in with the afternoon tea color theme.

Panna Cotta and Sweet Treats for Afternoon Tea
Matcha Green Tea and Mango Panna Cotta

The sweets I have chosen each signify an element to Ireland. The Orange Madeleines lightly dusted with powdered sugar are a tribute to the orange color in the Ireland flag. The Millionaire Square decorated with 24kt edible gold represents the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and the Whiskey Balls are a nod to renowned Irish whiskey.

Teatime Desserts
Millionaire Square (bottom left), Orange Madeleine (top), and Whiskey Ball (lower right)

The selection of sweets ranged from not very sweet (the Panna Cotta and Madeleines) to very sweet (the decadent Millionaire Square)!

Teatime Sweets
St. Patrick’s Day Afternoon Tea Desserts

Today, I am preparing three separate pairings of tea, a different one for each course of the afternoon tea. We are black tea drinkers and don’t personally like flavored teas so we are starting off with Happy Elephant’s Himalayan Darjeeling, an aromatic light-bodied tea, for the sandwich course. Tea pairing for the scones course is Bentley’s Earl Grey Tea. With its citrus notes, it is an excellent pairing with the Matcha Green Tea Scones that contain a hint of orange flavor. And, for the dessert course, the selection is Happy Elephant’s English Afternoon Tea.

Afternoon Tea Dessert
Dessert for St. Patrick’s Day Afternoon Tea

I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse into our St. Patrick’s Day Afternoon Tea. How will you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year?

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St. Paddy's Day Tea
St. Patrick’s Day Afternoon Tea