Thyme for Tea

Tea Parties: June: A Bridal Tea


This month, China and Ruby are hosting a special tea party to celebrate the June weddings of several special friends. Come in and join the celebration, and learn about herbs and wedding traditions.

Lore

Six traditional herbs have been used to grace weddings and wedding celebrations through the centuries. You can grow them yourself, find them in florist shops, or purchase them from a local herb garden.

  • Rosemary. This herb is the symbol of remembrance, loyalty, and fidelity, brides have carried its beautiful green branches in their wedding bouquets for two millenia.

  • Lavender. Lavender stands for devotion, and is one of the best beloved of all herbs. Its memorable fragrance is a touching reminder of love in bouquets and guest favors.

  • Marjoram. Sweet marjoram is a symbol of joy and happiness, and its long trailing stems were woven into wedding crowns worn by the bridal couple.

  • Ivy. Ivy represents friendship and faithfulness and was sacred to the Greek god of marriage, Hymen, as well as to Dionysus, the god of festivity and wine. Bridal couples clasped an ivy bough, symbolic of the way they would cling to each other.

  • Myrtle. Myrtle is a symbol of abundance, peace, and tranquility, and brides throughout the centuries have worn myrtle crowns.

  • Rue. The traditional herb of virgins, rue represents virtue and purity. Shakespeare called it the "herb of grace."

Other herbs with symbolic meanings appropriate to the beginning of a new union:

  • Sage: domestic virtue and long life
  • Thyme: strength and courage
  • Roses: love and desire
  • Southernwood: constancy in adversity
  • Mint: warmth, passion

Decorations

  • Potpourri. At the center of the table is a bowl of potpourri that China made from the flowers that decorated the outdoor pavilion where several friends exchanged their vows. China added orrisroot (a fixative), as well as sandalwood chips, orange peel, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, and dried rosemary, mint, and lavender. She added rose oil and stored the potpourri in a closed jar until Mary and Peter returned from their honeymoon. Now it's in a silver bowl in the middle of the table.

  • Miniature Wedding Hats. For tea party favors, Ruby has purchased a small hat for each guest. Using hot glue, she has glued ribbon around the crown and added colorful dried flowers, lavender, rosemary, and bits of moss.

  • Flowers. China has filled two crystal bowls with roses, set each one on a silver tray, and surrounded each with a fragrant green wreath of marjoram, myrtle, rosemary, and ivy.

Menu

Recipes

Dilled Salmon Cream Cheese Tea Sandwiches

  • 8 ounces light cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill weed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 10 slices white bread
  • 3 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon

In a small bowl, stir together the cream cheese, dill weed, parsley, and chives. Using a serrated knife, trim the crusts from the slices of bread. Using a rolling pin, roll to flatten each slice slightly. Spread about 1½ tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture over the entire surface of each slice of bread. Top with the salmon. Cut into squares, diamonds, or rectangles. Repeat with the remaining slices of bread. Arrange sandwiches on a serving plate, cover the top with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. (Makes 40)

Walnut Tea Sandwiches

  • 1½ (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup ground toasted walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced green bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely snipped chives
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg (or more to taste)
  • Salt and white pepper to taste
  • 24 slices best-quality white bread
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, walnuts, parsley, and bell pepper. Add onion, lemon juice, nutmeg, salt, and pepper; stir until well blended. Spread one side of each piece of bread lightly with butter. Top the buttered side of 12 slices of bread with some of the cream cheese mixture and top with the remaining bread slices, buttered side down. Carefully cut the crusts from each sandwich with a sharp knife. Cut the sandwiches in half diagonally and then cut in half again. (Makes 48)

Lavender Madeleines*

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbls dried or 5 tbls fresh lavender flowers
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted, cooled
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup unsifted flour
  • confectioners sugar
  • madeleine cookie mold

In food processor, process granulated sugar and flowers until flowers are finely ground. Heat oven to 400°. In a large bowl beat eggs with lavender sugar mixture and vanilla until light and fluffy (about 4 minutes). Gradually beat in melted butter. With wire whisk, fold in flour. Spray madeleine mold with cooking spray. Soon a scant one tablespoon batter into each madeleine mold. Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from pan. Cool on wire rack. Store in airtight container. Dust with confectioners sugar just before serving. (If you like, substitute rose water for the vanilla, for a wonderful rose fragrance.)

*This recipe was originally developed by Martha Paul, of Martha's Herbary, Pomfret CT, and is used with permission.

Mint Nut Bread

  • 2½ cups flour
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1½ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 2 teaspoons dried orange peel, chopped fine

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir together the oil, milk, and egg. Stir wet ingredients into dry. Add nuts, mint, and orange peel. Bake in greased loaf pan 50-60 minutes. Cool slightly and remove from pan. Slice thin when cold.

Rosemary Wedding Wine

  • 1 gallon Chablis Blanc
  • 6 sprigs fresh rosemary

Steep rosemary in wine for 6-8 days before serving. Strain and chill.

Raspberry-Mint Iced Tea

  • 2 quarts boiling water
  • 12 orange pekoe tea bags
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 2 packages frozen red raspberries (12 oz)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 bottle ginger ale

Pour boiling water over tea bags and mint in a large container. Cover and let steep for 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and mint. Puree raspberries with sugar in blender and stir into tea. Strain through a fine sieve. Chill. At serving, mix with chilled ginger ale in a punch bowl.