TEA PARTY CATERING BUSINESS
Starting a tea party catering business is easy. Everybody loves tea parties. Why not cater it for them?!
I originally had planned on opening a tea room, but could not find a location that fit into my business plan. I then decided to start a tea party catering business. It was much less expensive than opening a tea room.
Catering tea parties did present some problems. Would I take the china or require the hostess to have it? How would I transport the food and other equipment I needed. Not everyone has teapots and cups and saucers for a tea party. How much food could I make before I catered the party and how much would have to be made at the party? How much tea and how many kinds do you need for a tea party? What kind of vehicle would I need to start catering tea parties?
I had already started to collect plates, cups and saucers, and small dessert bowls when I was planning on opening a tea room. I purchased many of the items at thrift stores and antique stores. I also went to garage sales and found many of these items. I did not pay over $5 for any cup and saucer or over $3 for any plate or bowl. I got to know the antique dealers and the sales people at the thrift stores and they would let me know when they got in new items that I could use. I found that my purchases worked well for my tea party catering business. None of my china matched and made for some wonderfully decorated tables at the tea parties I catered. With mismatched china, my hostesses were able to use any color scheme they wanted for their tea parties.
The only things I required my hostesses to have were table clothes, napkins, butter knives or regular knives, teaspoons, glasses for water, and small centerpieces. I explained that the three-tiered servers that I used to serve the food would take up the space that a center piece would. I brought everything else, including sugar cubes, decorated sugar cubes, and milk. I also brought the sugar and creamer. Sometimes the hostesses wanted to use their own china for the tea parties.
For each tea party I catered, I served 4 tea sandwiches, a scone, a slice of tea bread, and 4 desserts for each guest. I would place the food for four people on each three-tiered server. That means if there were 12 people at the tea party, I would use three, three-tiered servers.
I decorated the three-tiered servers with flowers and ribbons and when they were filled with food they made beautiful centerpieces. The plate that held the desserts was on top. The bread plate with the scones and tea bread was in the middle, and the sandwiches were on the bottom plate. I dipped strawberries and dried fruit in dark chocolate and then drizzled white chocolate on them. I used these to decorate all three plates. I also decorated each plate with rose petals. I put a rose on the bread plate in the middle. The effect of these roses petals was breathtaking.
I also brought hats for each of the guests to wear at the tea party. I always took twice as many as I needed. At the first tea party I catered I took only two extra hats. Two of the guests wanted the same hat and I thought they were going to fight over it! After that, I made sure that there were many more hats then there were guests.
When I served the food, I always described what it was that was on each plate. I also served lemon curd and Devonshire cream for the scones. Sometimes I would serve a special spread for the tea bread.
Three different kinds of tea were offered at each tea party. Two black and one herbal, for those who did not want caffine. The tea I served depended on what was on the menu. I took enough teapots so each table had a pot of each kind of tea. All my teapots were either pink or green. I put tea cozies around each pot to keep them warm. I made the tea in airpots. I took 100 cup coffee urns to heat the water and then made the tea directly in the airpots. I would use 1 1/2 ounces of tea for each airpot. I would use a knee high nylon for my teabag. These worked great as there was lots of room for the tea to expand. The tea had to steep about 15 minutes before it was ready. I could then dispense the tea into the teapots directly from the airpots.
Transporting the equipment and dishes and food was by trial and error. I finally found out what worked best. The hats were transported in hat boxes. These I purchased as Ross or Marshalls or from thrift stores or antique stores or Big Lots. I put 3-5 hats in a box depending on size. After I had so many hats--around 100--I divided them up into summer hats and winter hats, which made it much easier.
The dishes were transported in china keepers. China keepers can be purchased from kitchen stores or Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I never broke any china during the two years that I catered tea parties.
I had plastic food containers--Glad or Ziploc--for the food. They come in many different sizes and lend themselves very well to transporting food. I had an ice chest on wheels for the food that had to stay cold. Costco sells blue ice in packets that can be cut up to any size you need. The rest of the food and equipment fit into large plastic storage containers. I purchased these from Shopko or Target or Big Lots when they went on sale. Right after Halloween and Christmas they go on sale. I didn't care if they were orange and black or red and green. They worked great for transporting everything I needed to cater a successful tea party.
All the storage containers fit well into the back of my Jeep. I also had a luggage carrier with wheels to stack the storage containers when taking them into and out of my hostess's house. This made it much easier on my back.
If you have any other questions I can answer for you, please email me.
Equipment for Tea Party Catering
Here is a list of equipment your will need to get started catering your tea parties.
Starting A Tea Business
Starting a tea business can take many different forms other than a tea room.
Opening A Tea Room
Opening a tea room involves research, dedication, and a passion for tea.
A business plan is critical when opening a tea room and will help you to begin maximizing your profits. Keeping expenses down, especially startup costs, will give you extra cash later.
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