Three-Tiered Serving Dishes

Before I start on the next tea theme, I wanted to address a question I received about tiered serving trays. These trays are convenient for tearoom use because the waitress can leave it on the customer’s table and her job is done. It means a lot fewer dishes to wash too.

In my home, I prefer to plate the individual courses and bring them to the table. I would have to go to the kitchen anyway, to refill the teapot, to pull scones out of the oven at the last minute, to get the tea sandwiches from the fridge so they are nice and cold. I don’t find it awkward to leave the table for the few moments it takes to plate the food.

I’ve accumulated a lot of dishes through the years so it isn’t a problem for me to change plates four times. If, however, I didn’t have so many plates, I’d serve the courses on individual platters so that the guests could keep their same plates.

For large tea parties, I often serve buffet style. I place the food for all the courses on the sideboard for guests to help themselves. Here I do use tiered serving trays but holding one food only. My silver tiered tray might hold cream puffs and my blue tiered tray might hold only tea cakes. It doesn’t take long for a tray to be filled when you are serving a dozen or more people; it won't look skimpy.

I like offering my guests the option of returning to the buffet for seconds. I never count only one sandwich or scone per guest. Full platters, bowls or tiered trays let my guests know that it is okay to take a bit more. Some might find it surprising that guests do make a second pass but I don’t believe I’ve ever hosted a buffet tea where this didn’t happen.

For most people, a tea is a special occasion. Instead of bringing a tiered tray to the tea table with the complete menu and expecting the guests to help themselves, add an extra bit of attention and serve your guests yourself. Or serve your tea buffet style and let the guests know it is okay to take another stuffed grape…or three.