Host a Grown-Up Tea Party

Why should dolls and stuffed animals have all the fun? Consider these ways to ring in the spring with a golden afternoon.

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Photo By: Christine Han

Literary Footnote

Take a page from California illustrator and hand-letterer Joanna Reynolds’s book and label your guests’ drinks with Lewis Carroll’s famous temptation from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Sure, you could just write out their names instead of "Drink Me" and quotes from the Cheshire cat and the Mad Hatter, but where’s the fun in that?

Eastern Splendor

Make like 12th-century Buddhist monks and whip up foamy cups of matcha tea, a creamy, calming brew prepared with shade-grown green tea leaves. This starter set includes everything you’ll need to cultivate a moment of Zen. BUY IT: World Market, $70

Continental Cocktail

When you’re ready to take your matcha to the next level, Jon Feuersanger at Denver’s Beast + Bottle has your game plan: "Honey Made Me Do It" combines 1 1/2 ounces of Don Ciccio & Figli Finocchietto (a savory Neapolitan fennel liqueur), an ounce of lemon juice, 3/4 ounces of honey syrup, 1/4 ounce of aquafaba (the liquid you find in cans of legumes like chickpeas), and 1/4 teaspoon of matcha. Shaken with ice and double-strained in a tea cup, it’s worthy of royalty.

Glam Canister

Keep your favorite loose-leaf blends secure in style with this tight-sealing, head-turning tin—and pick up a few spares to call into duty as snack servers when you’re setting the table. (Psst: That matching gold tea infuser will set you back a mere $6.) BUY IT: CB2, $18

Starman

This is Ground Control to Earl Grey: The Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts all splashed down on their trip back to Earth, a la this fellow (though he’s officially the first to splash into a cuppa). BUY IT: ThinkGeek, $10

Tea for Forty

Tea Forté's signature pyramid-shaped, single-use tea infusers are like little gifts for your guests. This introductory collection rounds up some of their greatest hits, including refreshing White Ginger Pear, soothing Chamomile Citron, classic Early Grey, and relaxing Jasmine Green. BUY IT: Tea Forté, $60

Sleek Skewers

Even James Bond — a notorious tea hater — would fall for, say, crustless cucumber sandwiches served with these secret-agent-worthy picks. (It should go without saying that they can be repurposed for killer martinis.) BUY IT: Williams-Sonoma, $16 for 6

Home for Hors D'Oeuvres

We wouldn’t blame you for leaving this two-tiered stand on the counter long after the last mini-scone has disappeared — it’ll also make fresh fruit look impossibly cool. BUY IT: CB2, $50

Ceramic Server

Give your Nana’s celebrated coffee cake (or a passel of pastries from the local bakery) pride of place with a work of art. Handmade and fired to an ultra-high temperature, this pedestal is both beautiful and durable: It’s microwave- and dishwasher-safe. BUY IT: 1220CeramicsStudio via Etsy, $78

Future Heirlooms

No fancy family china? No problem: Though this stoneware looks like the sort of stuff you’d wish-list on a wedding registry or wheedle out of an antique dealer, each piece is just $8. Bonus: The classic willow pattern is the perfect base for a mixed set of dishes (that is, your other blue and white items will play very well with it). BUY IT: Pottery Barn, $32 for 4

Showstopping Teapot

Named for and inspired by a French photographer/poet/painter who was Pablo Picasso's lover and muse, Dora Maar (the teapot) will be the undisputed star of your next surrealist tea. (Never hosted a surrealist tea? Here’s a video of Benedict Cumberbatch performing "I’m a Little Teapot" to get you in the mood.) BUY IT: Jonathan Adler, $138

High-Tech Kettle

If heating water on the stove isn’t your speed, consider KitchenAid’s electric offering: It boils 1.7 liters in minutes and looks awfully snazzy on the counter. (If you fall hard for pistachio green, matching mugs are $5 each.) BUY IT: Crate and Barrel, $80

Moroccan Magnificence

For a truly unforgettable gathering, look to Ron and Leetal Arazi of New York Shuk: Their exquisite, all-in-one set includes an engraved Berber tray, a golden Moroccan teapot, a set of six painted glass cups in the jewel tone of your choice, their own blend of spiced mint tea, pistachio halva and Turkish delight. BUY IT: New York Shuk, $295

Tempest in a Teapot

Give chamomile a kick with a steaming cocktail from Megan Lee at Marble + Rye in Buffalo, New York: Her Hot Tommy begins with a pot of tea, then raises the stakes with an ounce of Tommyrotter American Whiskey, 1/2 ounce of Amontillado sherry and a tablespoon of honey. As you’re steeping your tea, add the whiskey, sherry, and honey to a teacup or mug, top with the chamomile and add a squeeze of lemon. Finish with a bit of grated cinnamon, then sit back and enjoy your company’s contented sighs.

Hand-Dyed Linen

Canada-based textile artist Lesley Hill uses traditional Japanese shibori dyeing method to create graphic indigo patterns on her table runners, then machine-finishes and top-stitches them in her studio. These beauties could make a beat-up old TV tray Instagram-worthy. BUY IT: OllieandWren via Etsy, $48 and up

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