Okay people who are better at what passes for politeness in Ye Olde Western Culture — when a hostess is serving tea, does she pour all the cups in one spot and pass around a platter, or does she give her guests the cups then walk around the table pouring? And how does she help refill them throughout the event?
Indeed I do know, but here it is from the horse’s mouth, in this case, the horse is Emily Post:
THE MENU IS LIMITED
Only tea, bouillon, chocolate, bread and cakes are served. There can be all sorts of sandwiches, hot biscuits, crumpets, muffins, sliced cake and little cakes in every variety that a cook or caterer can devise—whatever can come under the head of “bread and cake” is admissible; but nothing else, or it becomes a “reception,” and not a “tea.” At the end of the table or on a separate table near by, there are bowls or pitchers of orangeade or lemonade or “punch” (meaning in these days something cold that has fruit juice in it) for the dancers, exactly as at a ball. 14 Guests go to the table and help themselves to their own selection of bread and cakes. The chocolate, already poured into cups and with whipped cream on top, is passed on a tray by a servant. Tea also poured into cups, not mixed but accompanied by a small pitcher of cream, bowl of sugar, and dish of lemon, is also passed on a tray. A guest taking her plate of food in one hand and her tea or chocolate in the other, finds herself a chair somewhere, if possible, near a table, so that she can take her tea without discomfort.
Naturally, you won’t have servants (probably?) XD The way I manage this is by playing servant myself as hostess. I let @duriel entertain guests while I make sure the hors d’oeuvres plates are always full and people have full glasses (or teacups).
You can also arrange a buffet where you keep the teapot filled, so people can return to it to get more tea as they like. This lets you mingle more.
I am a killer hostess~
The Joy of Cooking (original edition) has some good tea menus (for snacks and delicates to accompany the tea).
Ah! Thank you so much! /o/
(I love that with a little reaching out, people are willing to offer what they know about topics as diverse as lance injuries, illegally obtaining a gun, and tea etiquette.
All for the sake of a few accurate details in a disposable scene.)
In this case, though, I’m writing a private tea for three. (Mother hosting for newlywed son and daughter-in-law shortly after their marriage as a get-to-know-each-other-before-you-go-off-and-do-career-things meeting.) I imagine the arrangements would be fairly different for a private event?