Manners are important at tea time and so is being a thoughtful host or hostess. But how do you be sure your guests are enjoying that tea time if their manners are so good that they keep smiling and saying how good everything is even when it is not? As a hostess who has faced such a dilemma more than once, I have come up with three ways to deal with that too polite tea time guest.
1 – Know a Bit About Your Guests
Don’t be shy. Ask if they have any particular food likes and dislikes. Allergies are also an issue, with some being life-threatening, yet many people are too polite or even embarrassed to mention them. The last thing any host or hostess wants is a guest ending up in a dire medical situation. The trick is going about this inquiry in a subtle way. If you are sending out formal invitations, you could add a line after the RSVP something like this: “Please inform us of any allergies and personal preferences in foods.” If you are inviting people over more informally (in person, a text message, etc.), overcome your own shyness or too politeness and ask them then about such matters. Be prepared, though, for that too polite response, such as “Oh, anything is fine.” And don’t forget about pet allergies. If you have a cat or dog (or several), please let guests know in advance.
2 – Be Flexible
Even if you do step 1, be ready to serve a variety of foods free of common allergens (source):
- peanuts (causes severe anaphylaxis, a sudden drop in blood pressure that can be fatal if not treated quickly)
- tree nuts such as walnuts
- shellfish such as shrimp, crayfish, lobster, and crab
You might also want to steep up two different teas, most commonly a black tea and a green tea, both without other flavorings added (one of those flavorings might be an allergen to a guest). Black tea is still the most common type drank.
3 – Watch Your Guests’ Behavior
No, you don’t need to stare at them as they sip the tea or take a bite, but even the most polite guest will display signs of dissatisfaction with something. We’re not raised to hide our total tastebud shock when some clotted cream that’s a bit rancid and past it’s shelf life hits them. Or that slight puckering when sipping a tea that is oversteeped and bitter. True, this is a bit late in the process but should help you learn for next time (if you can get them to come over for that next time).
Hope these help make your next tea time with friends, family, and other guests an even better one!
© 2015 A.C. Cargill photos and text