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How to Host a Virtual Tea Party

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Tea! Bless ordinary everyday afternoon tea! - Agatha Christie
Afternoon Tea Party
Afternoon Tea Party
Tea! Bless ordinary everyday afternoon tea! - Agatha Christie

A Virtual Tea Party in 6 Easy Steps

Stay-at-home is a new reality. But you can still stay connected with family and friends. Virtual Tea Parties are the way to go! Are you hesitant about running your Zoom meetings? These pro tips will empower you to become the tech-savvy virtual tea party hostess with the mostest. Follow these easy 6-steps; it’ll be a piece of cake!

I grew up in Hong Kong, a former British colony, where Afternoon tea is highly celebrated and offered in luxurious hotels. Enjoying a fabulous Afternoon tea became my go-to social gathering with friends.

Having sipped many delightful tea-times around the world, I gathered notes on how to host wondrous tea parties at home. Now we’re navigating this new weird world of elbow-bumping and can-we-just-meet-on-zoom. So, I’ve taken my tea party plans and given them a virtual twist. Now they are yours, without the hassle of globetrotting (with your mask on), over-priced hotels, and all the associated jet lag!

Pre-virtual tea parties

Hosting in-person tea parties, back in the olden days (so 2020!), can be quite the endeavor if you’re not Martha Stewart. I mean…

  • the lawn has to be mowed,
  • the house vacuumed,
  • fresh flowers arranged,
  • bathrooms cleaned (a must, especially if you have boys in the house!),
  • essential oils diffused, so the home smells amazing,
  • delicious finger foods prepared,
  • table set and Instagram-ready (matchy origami napkins, anyone?)

Yeah, there’s so much to it. I’m exhausted just typing this list!

Virtual tea party

Thanks to speedy internet and technology like Zoom, you can easily create the fun and connection of a tea party virtually! Then you don’t have to do all these chores!  #VirtualTeaParty

And, just think, you’ll only need to look great from the waist up! Elastic waist pants to accommodate the extra cupcake, please. So steam the wrinkles out of that gorgeous blouse, paint your fingernails, and style your hair! When you know you look great, you feel great!

Confident is the ultimate sexy!

The six easy steps

  1. Organize the guest list
  2. Choose a time and invite your friends
  3. Get set up on Zoom (you’re going to love this!)
  4. Prepare a fun agenda
  5. Pick your tea
  6. Prepare tasty foods

1.  Organize the guest list

When you have an in-person tea party, you’re limited by the physical boundaries to accommodate the number of guests. How big is the table, the room size, number of chairs, and so on.

In a virtual setting, these physical limitations evaporate like steam in a teapot! It’s natural to feel tempted to invite the whole neighborhood! But keep this in mind, the goal of a tea party is to deepen existing friendships and create new ones. So more may not be merrier. I’ve found keeping the total party attendees to 6 is ideal. Matching to the 6-steps!

If you love making new connections, six may not sound like it’s enough. But since this is a virtual party, the cost of hosting a tea party is tiny! So, in the end, you’ll get to connect with all of your friends, hosting one virtual party a week if you want. It’s virtually limitless!

2. Choose a time and invite your friends

This step is super simple. A key benefit of being a host is — you pick a time that’s good for you. YOU matter!  It’s your party! Now contact your friends one at a time — BFFs first. And stop when you get five fabulous friends to say “yes!”

Now some of your friends may want to say yes but just can’t make your time. Ask them when they could meet and keep track of everyone’s availability. This will come in handy when planning your upcoming virtual tea parties. Disclaimer: you’re going to be so good at hosting these parties; it’ll become a healthy habit.

3. Get set up on Zoom

Many people have attended zoom meetings by simply clicking on a link but don’t have their Zoom account. You will need one to host your own “Zoom Tea Parties.” Here is a step-by-step guide to create your Zoom account and then schedule a Zoom gathering – all for free!  #ZoomTeaParties

How to create a free Zoom account:

  • Step 1.  Click here to sign up for free! https://zoom.us/freesignup/
  • Step 2. Enter your email. Any email will do. It doesn’t have to be a work email.
  • Step 3. Check that your email is correct, then click <Confirm>.
  • Step 4. You’ll see this message that an “Activation email” has been sent.
  • Step 5. Go to your email, open the email from Zoom, and click <Activate Account>.
  • Step 6. The above step will take you to Zoom, where you’ll fill out your first name, last name, and password.

How to schedule a free Zoom meeting

Here are some advanced Zoom hacks to help you make Virtual tea party hosting easy-peasey. Set it and forget it! 

  • Step 1. This is your Zoom dashboard. Click on SCHEDULE A MEETING on the right upper hand side.
  • Step 2. Name your meeting. Here I’ve named it: Virtual Tea Party.
  • Step 3. Click the box RECURRING MEETING.
  • Step 4. Click the box RECURRENCE, and you’ll see a dropdown menu, pick NO FIXED TIME.
  • Step 5. Uncheck the PASSCODE box. Leave the WAITING ROOM enabled.
  • Step 6. Your feature settings should look like this.  Then click <SAVE>.
  • Step 7. With the meeting set up, you’ll see the INVITE LINK, copy this link and email it to your friends.

*** Now, here is the best part of doing it this way: This is the ONLY link you will need for all future Virtual Tea Parties, even though the parties are held on different dates and times. Same party link! Awesome, right? ***

Think of this link as your dedicated Virtual Tea Party Room!

How to decorate your Zoom Tea Party Room

Remember all the wonderful vacation photos you never had the chance to share with your friends? Upload them onto Zoom as virtual backgrounds in your profile. Your friends will go ga-ga over them.

If that’s too much to handle, go the easy route as I did! I picked this beach background from Zoom’s FREE image library. Yep, I’m hanging out on the beach, albeit virtually!  To do that, go to Zoom > Preference > Virtual Background. ActoinFliks-Christy-Hui-Sipping-Tea-Virtual

Although Zoom offers premium services, you don’t necessarily need any more than the free version to host your virtual tea parties. The free version gives you 40-minutes per session.  If your party is going well, you’ll want it to go longer, of course. Not a problem. At the 40-minute mark, everyone turns off their Zoom, and then when you’re ready to RE-ZOOM, just have everyone click on the SAME MEETING LINK!  And voila! You have a fresh 40-minutes for your second brew!

4.  Plan a fun agenda

Conversations and sharing stories are always lovely. Here are some ideas on topics to help the group get to know each other on a deeper level:

  • Everyone has a favorite season, spring, summer, winter, or fall. Tell everyone which is yours and why.
  • Where would you like to go on your next vacation and why?
  • You’ve got 30-seconds to speak with your 30-year-old younger self; what do you say?
  • What’s the strangest dream you’ve ever had?
  • If you could start over, what would you like to do differently?
  • Everyone loves sunsets. What do sunsets mean to you? Where was the place you saw the most beautiful sunset?

Remember not to rush. Sip and share! 

If you’re into games, I found this cool resource for games to play on Zoom, #7 looks particularly fun!

5.  Pick your tea

This is the most important and FUN part: TEA! Pick well because you can turn this into a sip-and-tell event by sharing tasting notes.

ActionFliks-9-Dragons-Tea-HK-Lock-Cha-House-Tea-Leaves

Six types of tea

Here are the six traditional tea types in loose forms, including popular varietals. Some are available in teabags. You’ll notice I talked a lot more about the last two on this list because they are my favorites for Afternoon tea.

  • White tea: a super lightly colored tea that delights the palette.
  • Yellow tea: beautiful golden-yellow tea offering a refreshing taste.
  • Green tea: This ranks number 2 in popularity worldwide due to its health benefits. Some popular varietals are Long Jing (Dragon Well), Dragon Pearl Jasmine, Gunpowder, Bi-Lo Chun, and of course, Matcha, Japanese green tea.
  • Black tea: This is the most popular tea in the world, packed with health benefits! It’s also my must-morning drink to kickstart the day. Some famous varieties include English Breakfast, Lapsang Souchong, Earl Grey, Darjeeling Black Tea, Ceylon Black Tea, Assam Black Tea. Fancy any?
  • Oolong tea: I call this the Champagne of Tea! The most renowned Oolong tea is Da Hong Pao Rui Quay ( Cinnamon Oolong from Wuyi Shan — the birthplace of Oolong tea!) Also, Dong Ding Oolong (from Taiwan) makes a great choice. Good Oolong is so fragrant that tasting it is like taking a virtual walk in the garden. This is my daily go-to elixir.
  • Puer (or Pu’er or Puerh): There are two types of Puer: Sheng Puer (raw) or Shou Puer (cooked). A fine Puer tea is like a walk through the forest. I have tasted some Puer tea that is pure joy. So earthy that I feel grounded. Great Puer is tough to find nowadays and expensive. The Puer I was lucky to taste was 30-years old, at least.  Phenomenal tea!

This party is BYO! The most important thing is companionship. So fill your cup with whatever feels right to you that day! Herbal teas, Hot chocolate, Champagne, Kombucha?  Whatever floats your teacup!

6.  Prepare tasty foods

Tea-Cake-1

Admittedly this part gives in-person tea parties the edge. Who doesn’t like sharing tasty foods? For virtual tea party attendees, this is the task that matters. So make it fun! Create awards such as “best plating,” “cutest cupcake,” and “most expressively enjoyed” (think the movie “What About Bob?)

Here are some delicious finger food ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Scones with jam, fresh cream, and butter
  • Finger sandwiches with such fillings as ham, chicken, smoked salmon, egg salad, or cucumber with cream cheese
  • Cookies (love great cookies) or biscuits if you’re feeling British
  • Pastries of all types and shapes (stars for me, please!)
  • Lemon curd and jam, macarons, éclairs, etc.
  • Fresh fruit (love!)

Fruits-for-afternoon-tea

Lastly, log on and party with your friends!

Get your tea and food ready. Be sure your gadgets are fully charged up, with a power cord nearby just in case.

Look your best. Log onto Zoom. When each guest arrives, Zoom will notify you that he/she is in your waiting room.

Click on the ADMIT button to let them in. Enjoy your tea party. Cheers!

Sip Tea.
Keep Calm.
And Carry On.

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