The Strawberry Patch

Enrichment and Inspiration for Beta Sigma Phi Sisters from Marilyn Ross

It's Tea Time!
It's Tea Time!

 Teas, particularly Preferential Teas, have always played an important part in the traditions of Beta Sigma Phi. A formal High Tea is one of the nicest ways to invite a prospective member to join Beta Sigma Phi.

 And an informal tea is just perfect for getting-to-know someone new! This party plan gives you suggestions for each - use what is appropriate in your situation!

 Invitations to a formal tea should be, of course, formally worded on formal looking blank invitations. The Gift Department ( carries crested notepaper that is perfect for formal invitations. Ambitious chapters might wish to have engraved invitations made for the occasion. Or, we can make professional looking invitations on our computers!

 At a formal tea, formal nametags would be in order - and the Gift Department can help you here also, with our crested self-sticking name badges. Or if you wish to make your own, glue red construction paper hearts onto white paper dollies for quick, formal nametags!

 For an informal get-together a teapot or teacup would make an eye-catching invitation. Patterns for you to trace and/or copy for either are included here. Each is suitable for invitations or nametags.

 Teas, whether formal or informal, are social events - so the main portion of the "entertainment" should be a social hour (held either before or after the tea is served) where everyone present gets to know a little about everyone else.

 If your guests are seated in formal table arrangements, devise a system for having some of your guests trade places at appointed times. One method is to number half of your nametags in pairs - two tags are marked "1", two are marked "2", and so on. Be sure the "pairs" are seated at separate tables - at the halfway point in the social hour, have the pairs switch places (leaving half of the guests in their places to be the new "contacts" for the pairs).

 At an informal event, choose a "mystery guest". Have each of your guests ask everyone at the event a set series of 4 to 5 questions. At the end of the social hour, the hostess reads the "mystery guest'" answers to the questions. The first person to figure out who the "mystery guest" is wins a prize - perhaps a tea infuser or a teapot!

 The most important aspect of a tea (formal or informal) is of course, the tea! An informal tea requires only a simple buffet table. However, a formal High Tea needs a more formal table placement. Cover your tea table with a white linen or lace cloth. Yellow roses in a silver bowl would make an appropriate centerpiece (have a drawing for a guest to win it at the end of the party.)

 On either side of the centerpiece is a silver candelabrum with tall, white candles (curtains are drawn in the room where formal tea is served and candles, therefore, are appropriate during the daylight hours - traditionally High Tea is held at 4:00 PM.) At one end of the table is the tea service, at the other, a coffee service.

 To set the tea tray: The teapot is in the center, the basin for the leaves (or bags) to the lower left and the sugar, sugar tongs, cream and hot water to the lower right. The tea tray is always set without a cloth. Between the two beverage services, the food is arranged. Plates, napkins, and silverware are arranged, buffet style, on the table. Cups and saucers are at the left of each tray. An elegant table sets the tone for a special afternoon!

It's Tea Time!

 First, bring freshly drawn COLD water to a full rolling boil (reheated water has a flat taste; the air has been boiled out.) Merely hot water isn't enough; only boiling water can extract all the flavor from the tea leaves. Use a teapot, preheat it and dry it. A teapot holds the water temperature very high during the brewing period. Add one teaspoonful of tea per cup, plus "one for the pot" (a tea bag is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of tea.) Steep the tea to the strength you prefer - 3 to 5 minutes. This is time needed for the essential oils to escape from the leaves. After brewing, decant into a serving pot. For weaker tea, add hot water to the cup when serving. Don't judge the strength of a tea by its color - delicate teas may produce a dark brew, strong teas a light brew, depending on the blend of the tea. For High Tea, we suggest a fine Earl Grey and for your informal event, Lipton' tea will be just fine!

 Make tea sandwiches by cutting the crusts off slices of bread, spreading them with various sorts of "filling", and cutting the sandwiches into "ribbons" or rolling them into attractive shapes. Trim and spread the bread while frozen to make it easier to work with. Spread all sandwiches with a very thin layer of butter - it won't alter the taste and it will keep the sandwiches from becoming soggy. Here are some easy "fillings":

  • Softened cream cheese; mixed with sweet pickle relish.
  • Deviled ham; with mustard and grated onion.
  • ¼ cup butter; ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce; ½ tsp garlic; 2 T. parsley; and 2 T. watercress.
  • ½ cup cooked shrimp; ½ cup butter; and 1 tsp. lemon juice.
  • ½ lb. chopped, sautéed mushrooms; ½ cup butter; ¼ tsp. pepper, ¼ tsp salt; and 3 T. dry sherry.
  • Cream cheese; chopped ginger; and chopped almonds.

***When storing your tea sandwiches, keep them fresh by covering them with waxed paper, then cover with a damp tea towel and refrigerate until needed.***


It's Tea Time!

Pecan Tarts

1 stick butter, softened
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
¾ cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup flour
1 egg
1 T. butter
½ tsp. vanilla

Cream butter and cream cheese and blend well with mixer. Add flour gradually by hand. Shape into 24 small balls, about 1 inch in size. Press into ungreased, small muffin tins. Press the dough up the sides to make a small cup, then set aside. In a bowl, mix brown sugar, egg, butter, pecans and vanilla. Fill dough cups ¾ full with mixture. Bake at 375° for 22-25 minutes or until edges are light brown. Makes 24 tarts.

Tea Scones

2 cups flour
½ tsp salt
2 ½ tsp double-acting baking powder
¼ cup superfine sugar
1/3 cup shortening
½ cup raisins
1 egg
Butter and jam
It's Tea Time!

Preheat oven to 425°. Combine flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar in bowl. Cut in shortening with pastry blender, then add raisins. In separate bowl, lightly beat egg and add enough milk to make 2/3 cup liquid. Add liquid to dry ingredients and gently stir with a fork until dough holds together. Gather dough into ball, place on lightly floured board, knead gently for about 12 strokes. Roll dough ¼ inch thick on lightly floured board and cut into rounds with floured biscuit cutter. Place scones on a baking sheet 1 inch apart. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Split scones while hot and spread with butter. These may be eaten hot or cold, but are best fresh from the oven served with a berry jam. (Strawberry is a favorite!J) Makes 12 to 16 scones.

It's Tea Time!

***A most special treat for your guests with a sweet tooth would be fresh strawberries dipped in chocolate!
(Just melt semi-sweet chocolate chips over low heat & dip!)***

 Send your guests home with tea, of course! Teas, herbal or fancy (in tins), in small baskets would make lovely mementos for your guests in either a formal or informal setting!

Actual Size is 350 x 350
right click on image for large size.
Actual Size is 350 x 350
right click on image for large size.
Actual Size is 350 x 350
right click on image for large size.
Actual Size is 350 x 350
right click on image for large size.

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