Thyme for Tea

Tea Parties: November: A Sage Tea

This month, China and Ruby are inviting all their friends to drop in for a tea party celebrating sage! If you can't join them, create your own tea party or borrow a recipe or two for your holiday celebration.


What would November be like without our much-loved American holiday, Thanksgiving? And what would Thanksgiving be like without that much-loved herb, sage? Our tea-party this month honors sage, an herb that takes its name from the Latin salvere, "to be well," "to save." For millenia, people have given thanks for sage for its healing, health-giving qualities. (In fact, there's an old saying: "Why should a man die who grows sage in his garden?") Sage was prized for its ability to soothe indigestion (that's probably the reason sage was used to stuff rich dishes like goose and turkey), calm the nerves, restore the memory, and banish melancholy and depression. So give thanks for sage while you enjoy our November tea party!


China and Ruby have lots of ideas for ways to use sage to decorate their tea room for a November tea party. Here are a few for you to try:

  • Wire together bunches of sage leaves, and wire the bunches to a wreath. Decorate with sprays of red berries (pyracanthus, holly).

  • Place a fat sage-green candle on a plate and surround with leaves of sage and gray-green lambs-ears, with sprigs of rosemary for a darker green accent. Or half-fill a pint jar with sage sprigs, add water to cover, and bright red cranberries. Float a lighted votive candle on top.

  • Purchase some small sage plants from a local nursery, pot in pretty terracotta pots, and use as table decorations.


Your friends will be surprised and delighted at the variety of tea tasties that can be made with sage.


Open-Faced Sandwiches with Herb-Cheese Spread

  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh sage
  • ½ tsp each finely chopped fresh savory and basil
  • 3 tblsp finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tblsp oil and vinegar dressing

Marinate the herbs in the dressing for several hours. Mix with the cream cheese and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Bring to room temperature and spread on thin slices of white or wheat bread with the crusts trimmed off. Cut into triangles, rectangles, circles, or other shapes. Garnish with tiny sage leaves and a snip of pimento.

Nutty Sage Cheeseball

  • ½ pound extra sharp Cheddar
  • ½ pound ounces sharp Cheddar
  • 2 tblsp butter
  • 2 tblsp chopped fresh sage
  • ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp mace
  • ½ cup sweet port
  • whole sage leaves for garnish

Grate the cheese and process, blend, or mix well with the butter, sage, nuts, nutmeg, mace, and port. Form into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 24 hours. To serve, shape into a ball or log and dust with nutmeg, or place in a crock. Delicious spread on crisp slices of autumn apple or pear.

Fresh Lemon-Sage Muffins

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1½ tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup butter or margarine, melted
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh sage
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400°. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix milk with egg, butter, lemon zest, and chopped herbs. Combine with dry ingredients and mix just enough to moisten. Fill 12 muffin cups fitted with paper liners and bake for 20-25 minutes or until top springs back when touched.

Sage Jelly

  • 3½ cups sugar
  • 2 tblsp sage
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 ounces liquid pectin or 1 packet Certo
  • green food coloring

Place sugar and sage in a saucepan. Cover with cider and water and boil for 7 minutes. Strain and return to a boil. Add pectin or Certo. Stir to mix. If desired, add a couple of drops of green food coloring. Pour into sterilized jars and refrigerate. Serve in a pretty crock surrounded with savory crackers.

Sage-Shallot Mustard

  • 2 tblsp fresh chopped sage leaves
  • 1 shallot
  • ¾ cup Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper

If your tea party takes place after Turkey Day, this one will be easy! Finely chop the sage leaves and shallot. Mix with mustard and pepper. Refrigerate for 24 hours. Serve as a dip with slivers of turkey.

Pineapple Sage Cheese Nibbles

Pineapple sage is just what it sounds like—a pineapple-scented and -flavored sage. Place a young leaf of this unusual herb on a sliver of mild cheese for a tasty nibble.

Rosy Sage Tea

For your November tea party, brew up a pot of sage tea. This tea is good for you (lots of vitamin C, together with the volatile oils in sage that help to soothe mucous membranes) and tasty too.

To brew, place these herbs in a teapot and pour four cups of boiling water over them. Cover and steep for 8-10 minutes. Increase this recipe for additional servings.
  • 4 tsp dried crushed rose hips
  • 4 tsp dried sage leaves
  • 4 tsp dried peppermint leave.