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Mother’s Day Tea

Posted on 05/02/2014 by Jean Sexton

The preparing and serving of tea is an ancient ritual, with different cultures creating different customs over the centuries, from elaborate ceremonies to a simple mug of the refreshing beverage. At Biltmore, the Vanderbilts shared tea with family and friends in all kinds of settings.

“We have several archival photographs that include tea,” said Leslie Klingner, Curator of Interpretation. “And we also know they had coffee and light nibbles—probably sweets, nuts, sweet fruits, and tea cakes.”

A tea party for modern moms

Although we don’t know if a Mother’s Day tea was ever hosted in honor of Edith Vanderbilt, the family’s traditions can still inspire different ways to celebrate your mother’s special day with a tea party.

For today’s mothers, the Inn on Biltmore Estate recommends offering a mix of sweet and savory foods similar to what the Vanderbilts served. “For spring, I like to make lemon poppy seed scones,” said inn pastry chef Alicia Barger. 

Other classic favorites include orange pound cake and tea sandwiches with cucumber and cream cheese, while mini quiches and chicken salad on croissants add a modern note to the inn’s traditional menu for afternoon tea.

Pastries are Chef Barger’s specialty and she suggests using an elevated cake stand to serve sweets, and a three-tier stand for savory items. “For your tea party, offer a variety of teas artfully displayed near the food like we do at the inn,” she suggests, “and make sure to provide coffee and other beverages for non-tea drinkers.” 

Mix it up

If you’re willing to add more guests to your Mother’s Day tea party, consider inviting other mothers and daughters to join you. Little girls love a tea party whether it’s for two or 20. During the party, ask guests to describe what they love best about their mother and/or what they enjoy most about being a mom.

“If you don’t have enough tea cups, check out a thrift store to find sets or a variety of tea cups,” said Christy Hodgins, Director of Marketing for Biltmore For Your Home. “They don’t even have to match; mix-and-match is all the rage now and adds wonderful interest to the table.”

Fresh flowers add a natural touch to your party, especially if you pick your own spring wildflowers. Christy recommends arranging the flowers in short vases for the table and taller vases for a side or accent table.

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