We all know the game of choosing the right setting to meet someone to talk. Lunch is too rushed, dinner is too formal, and "drinks" are too loud and crowded. When you want to impress a guest (or a number of ‘em), and darn it, pizza and brews just don't cut it, don't forget -- there is a reason High Tea has remained the Queen of Alternative Events for centuries. And we aren't talkin' merely brewing up a pot -- we mean the big ol' High Tea Experience.

You may be saying -- "But I don't have nearly enough cats," or "...and just when my bonnet and parasol are in the shop!" Come on. What is more stimulating than entertaining uniquely? Plus, you don't have to worry about $3.79 a cup from some beatnik wannabe in a smock. And if you think you are alone, get this fact:

As you read this, 20 million cups of tea are being sipped in England (assuming it takes you a full day to read this).

So, get in touch with your inner Anglophile, and let's see how it's done...



Debated much more than it seems it should be is: "What is the official time for tea?"

It is 4:00 PM. That's it. End of discussion. Four. If you want to get saucy, High Tea may technically be taken at any afternoon time, and may be used as a replacement for supper. This is so, because a bit more food is served at High Tea than at Afternoon Tea (if food's what you are after, we'll get to that in 4. Select food to accompany the tea). High Tea Time is more malleable to allow for the best time for your guests to be free, and so you'll have extra time for cricket, or Imperialism, or whatever it is you need to do that day.

Aahhh…a pleasant atmosphere

As important as time is atmosphere. Set aside an area of your house - or apartment, or box, or whatever - that will be roomy and private. Of course, comfy chairs are a must, set about a centrally located table ...you know, for the tea and stuff. Splurge and get some seasonal flowers. Arrange them so you and your company can be surrounded by and see them, but do not have to work around them. Use doilies under your plates, bowls, cups, and so on. Got a particularly nice tablecloth you don't mind liberating? Some attractive napkins yearning to be seen? Use them. Also, choosing pleasant music fills the air in ways smells and sights cannot. Lean toward (perhaps wordless) tunes that accentuate relaxed conversation, and steer away from the intrusive. So -- Mozart...O.K., Busta Rhymes...not so good. We like a little Jethro Tull ourselves, but our guests may be a little different than yours.