Host Your Own Tea with My Jane Austen Summer

Gathering over tea to discuss My Jane Austen Summer enhances the literary experience and lifts the book from a solitary read to a social event.

The Proper Spirit
Creating Your China Garden
Lily Berry’s Pink Rose Tea
Menu
Discussion
Feedback on Facebook
Recipes

The Proper Spirit for Tea with My Jane Austen Summer

“…The novel was alive.  This was what I had meant about living in a novel.  We were all alive in Mansfield Park.” 

A Jane Austen Summer Tea Party calls for a spirit of adventure.  Tea encouraged Lily’s growth as a protagonist in her story, tea provided joy to the volunteers who baked the scones and loaned their china, and tea provided a festive event for patrons dressed in period attire.   

Your tea can be elaborate or simple, hosting four or four hundred.  You can place everything on a buffet, or serve your tea in courses.  You can offer a variety of menu items, or just one.  For the truly adventurous, encourage period attire.  Besides inviting the literary characters into your midst, a Jane Austen Summer Tea Party is distinguished by its China Garden.

Creating Your China Garden

“Tables featured every sort of pattern from understated metallic bands to profusions of blooming wildflowers.  We walked among the tables, a china garden, lifting plates to read pattern names.” 

Lily Berry solved the problem of providing dishes for her tea by asking each volunteer to loan her personal china to the party.  Each table was set with a different china pattern and patrons enjoyed admiring the many patterns displayed on the tables.  Whether you host many guests, or four, you can create your own china garden.  For a very small tea, ask everyone to bring one place setting of their personal china and then mix it up.  For a large tea, ask people to loan enough place settings for one table and set each table with a different pattern.      

At the very most, you will need:

  • A white tablecloth (so as not to compete with the china patterns)
  • China    
  • Place a folded card by each china pattern, providing the pattern name, manufacturer, and purpose (such as wedding china, inherited, bought on travels, etc.).  Providing these details minimizes the need to handle china, turning it over to read the same information. 
  • If you are hosting a large tea, set up tables of four, six, or eight and set each table with one china pattern.  Instruct people bringing china to bring enough to set one table. 
  • For each table, you will need:
  • A salad plate for each place setting
  • A cup and saucer for each place setting
  • One spoon per place setting
  • Small bowl or stemware for berries, one per person
  • One bread and butter plate to hold lemon slices
  • Vessels for cream and sugar
  • Tea pots (one tea pot serves four guests)
  • Three small bowls for clotted cream, butter, and jam
  • Serving plates for scones, sandwiches, and cookies

TIP:  After the tea, the china’s owner should pack up dirty china and take it home to wash, minimizing accidents involving other people and slippery sinks. 

Lily Berry’s Pink Rose Tea

“I’d snuggled into my mother’s side, tracing the roses on the floral chintz loveseat, wondering how there could be so much purple and blue in the pink petals. When she read, my mother’s voice mixed the lush sofa roses with the soft reading light and the romance of storybook heroines.” 

You may serve any tea you like.  But to enhance your connection with the novel, try Lily Berry’s Pink Rose Tea. 

Bingley’s Teas, Ltd. has blended a lovely tea and named it after Lily Berry, the heroine of My Jane Austen Summer.  A delightful combination of berries and roses in a green tea conjures the appeal of Lily’s fresh, romantic, and often surprising personality.  Packaged in a pretty white bag, a small window on the back displays the beautiful tea.  Lily Berry’s Pink Rose Tea is available for purchase on this website.  If you are in Dallas, you can purchase Lily's tea at The T Shop.

Menu

“We need scones, sandwiches, and cookies,” I said.
“We’ve made assignments,” Mrs. Russell said.
"Clotted cream, sugar, and lemon.”
“That’s all under control,” Mrs. Russell raised her palm to stop me.

You can buy everything you need for a four-course afternoon tea from your nearest grocery store.  Or, you can prepare the offerings yourself from your own recipes, or the recipes provided at the end of this page.  A suggested menu for afternoon tea:

  • Lily’s Mixed-up Berries
  • Assorted Tea sandwiches
  • Scones served with clotted cream, butter, and jam
  • Assorted tea cookies
  • Tea, served with cream, sweeteners, and lemon slices

Discussion

 I said, “I’m planning a tea-theatre.”
“A what?” he asked, leaning forward.
“A tea party where volunteers in period dress serve refreshments and Lily performs on a stage.”  I stood.  “Will you take a part?  You can have the lead.””

When you have tea with My Jane Austen Summer, you invite the literary characters into your midst and allow them to enhance your discussion of the book.  For further assistance with your discussion,

  • A reading group guide is included in the back of the book. 
  • Invite the author to join you for a 20-25 minute conversation via skype, phone, or in person, if possible. 
  • If an author visit is not feasible, you may start your discussion by reading a paper written especially for this purpose entitled, “What Cindy Jones Was Thinking When She Wrote That Ending, and Answers to Other Lingering Questions”.  E-mail me at: [email protected] for a copy of the paper.  It contains too many spoilers to include on this website.
  • While you are emailing, tell me how many guests you are expecting and I will send you some Lily Berry bookmarks for party favors.  Lily’s favorite books are listed—all mentioned in My Jane Austen Summer.  See how many you’ve read.

Feedback on Facebook

“I wrote to Karen, telling her of the tea-theatre’s success.  After selling out the first event, we added more tables at the second tea, and cut the scones smaller to feed more people, easily seating sixty.” 

After your event, please visit the Facebook page: Cindy Jones Books and leave your feedback, tips, and any helpful information for those in the planning stages. 

Feel free to address any questions to me:  [email protected]

Recipes

St. Mary’s Dried-Cherry Scones (serves 6)

2 c. all-purpose flour
¼ c. plus 3 t sugar
1 ½ t baking powder
½ t baking soda
¼ t salt
¼ c. chilled margarine cut into small piece
s½ c. dried tart cherries
½ c. nonfat buttermilk
1 t vanilla extract
¼ t almond extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 t. sugar

Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl; cut in margarine with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add cherries; toss well.  Combine buttermilk and next three ingredients; add to dry ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened (dough will be sticky).

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and with floured hands, knead 4 to 5 times.  Pat the dough into an 8 inch circle on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Cut dough into 12 wedges—cutting into but not through dough.  Brush with egg white and sprinkle with 1 T sugar.  Bake at 400 degrees for 18 minutes or until golden.  Serve warm, if possible.  Yield: 1 dozen.

St. Mary’s Guild of St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Dallas prepared these scones in quantities to serve 400 at the annual spring tea for many years.

Mrs. Laboe’s Sugar Cookies (Makes 4 dozen 3 in. cookies)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

¾ c shortening (part butter)
1 c sugar
2 eggs
½ t vanilla
2 ½ c flour
1 t baking powder
1 t salt

Mix thoroughly:  shortening, sugar, eggs, and flavoring. 

In another bowl, sift: flour, baking powder, and salt.

Combine and chill in refrigerator for one hour.  Roll the dough on a floured surface and use cookie cutters to create shapes (tea pot cookie cutters are nice!).  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 6 to 8 minutes.  Decorate with icing or sprinkles.   

This recipe, and the recipe book in which it lives, (both keepsakes) were gifts of Mrs. Laboe of the title, whose children I babysat in my youth. 

Lily’s Mixed-up Berries

Mix fresh berries in season, aiming for one-half cup of berries per person.  Serve in a small bowl or stemware, topped with a dollup of whipped cream.

Tea Sandwiches

The only rule for tea sandwiches is to remove the crust and cut small.  An electric knife is good for removing crust from an entire loaf of bread if you are working with large quantities.  After filling sandwiches, cut bread crosswise twice, for four sandwiches.  Your bread can be plain or unusual, white or embedded with dried fruits and nuts.  Your filling can be traditional (pimento cheese, egg, ham, or tuna salad) or creative and experimental.  Ideas for fillings:

Cream cheese and salsa
Hummus and cucumber slices
Mustard, cheese, and apple
Mayo, chicken, and cranberry relish
Nutella and roasted almond bits
Sauteed mushrooms with cheese and BBQ sauce