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A Very Alice Tea Party

4 July marks the date that Alice first fell down the rabbit hole – the day that Lewis Carroll first told his story to Alice Liddell and her sisters by the banks of the River Thames near Oxford. It’s 150 years since the book was first published, and since then it’s never been out of print.

It goes without saying that this year 4 July deserves a rather special celebration. Over in Oxford, the whole town’s going batty for Alice – fancy dress is the order of the day, and you’ll see everything from Alice-themed punting to a street fight between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. If you can’t make it to Oxford, then how about hosting your own Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at home? All you need is a few simple ingredients…

Images: 1. Gage Skidmore, 3. Flickr: Ewen Roberts

First comes the teapot…

Our classic Tea Party teapot stars the Mad Hatter singing his rather batty rendition of ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Bat’, while the March Hare and dozy dormouse listen attentively. If you’re likely to have the Queen of Hearts round to tea, we suggest you treat her to our 150 Years of Alice teapot, designed by tea queen Alison Appleton.

Already got a teapot you’re keen to use? Our White Rabbit tea cosy is a teapot’s take on fancy dress. He’s quite a sight…

Colour-pop mugs or cups and saucers?

What’s your tea party colour palette? If you’re creating a technicolour Wonderland, we’d say opt for our iconic character mugs – the Queen of Hearts goes to tea party divas, the White Rabbit for latecomers. And if you’re creating a traditional spread with a touch of the surreal, how about Alison Appleton’s quirky cups and saucers? Perfect with pastel colours and a plate of mini macaroons.

A topsy-turvy cup of tea

Alice’s Afternoon Tea is a must for the teapot, but how about passing round Alice’s Tea Chest for each guest to pick and choose? It’s easy when they each have an infuser – choose our silver-plated infusers for extra tea chic, and place alongside each cup and saucer.

If you want to mix things up try a Mock Turtle iced tea cocktail. Or, at least that’s our new name for our Tea-Mojito. Place the Tea-Jay in the centre of the table with a label saying ‘Drink Me’ – the bright green colour will make it extra... intriguing. Drink if you dare.

And a little something for dunking

What’s that I hear? The white rabbit, blasting a trumpet as he announces the Queen of Hearts? And the knave has stolen her strawberry tarts? Better dash to get our heart-shaped strawberry biscuits or heads will roll…

Our Lemon Shortbread rounds also make rather lovely clock-faces – add a squeeze of lemon juice to different coloured icing and apply a bit of artistry to turn them into pocket watches… They’re quite a sight on a nice round plate.

A table worthy of Wonderland…

So, where will you be holding your tea party? On the riverbank up by Godstow, like Lewis Carroll? Out in the garden, trees full of Cheshire Cats? Or simply in your kitchen, close to a kettle? Here’s our tips for a good and proper tabletop…

We’ll be scattering the table with building blocks of mini tea tins, and putting a ribbon-tied set of Alice chocolate bars next to each place name. Displayed in a vase cake pops can look like a bunch of flowers, and create a fantasy tree by tying colourful velvet ribbons to blossoming branches – ideal if you’re out in the garden, or snip with some secateurs to take inside. Top it all off with washing line hung with colourful paper lanterns.

Fearful about potentially having 13 at the table? Pull up another chair for the White Rabbit tea cosy. He definitely counts as an extra guest.

A little performance piece…

Oh – and if you’re looking for some teatime poetry to recite at the table, we’ll leave you with the wise words of the Mad Hatter….

Twinkle, twinkle, little bat
How I wonder what you’re at!
Up above the world you fly
Like a tea-tray in the sky.

Wishing you a very happy Alice Day!

Header photo: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at Opera Holland Park 2014. Photo Alex Brenner.

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