An American Christmas Tea Tradition

Many of our Christmas traditions came from England though Christmas Tea hasn't stuck.

Christmas Tea in England is a tradition which can be adapted for your own family. By Flickr user James McCaffrey (

Adding a Christmas tea tradition to your holiday is easy if you follow the British model and give it your own spin. Many of the Christmas traditions found here in the U.S. originated in England. Not a surprise given who came to the colonies. Decorating your home, stockings, letters to Santa are all British traditions. What has not stayed as a tradition in the U.S. is Christmas tea. Much like Americans, the British sit down to a large afternoon meal consisting of meat, vegetables, stuffing, etc. However, around 6 pm, British families will gather again for Christmas tea. So let’s explore what is served at a Christmas tea and how to put an American spin on this tradition.

Serving Christmas Tea in the Evening

Serving a caffeinated beverage in the evening may not sit well with all family members. So this tea may require two pots, one with a caffeine free tisane and one with a more traditional tea. Evening teas in Britain are typically done with a lighter black tea like Darjeeling or Yunnan tea. These are more floral teas and less brisk than traditional breakfast teas. There is really no reason to deviate from these teas, unless you decide to do iced tea. At which point, return to those brisk morning teas to make flavorful iced tea. There is nothing wrong with serving iced tea for an evening tea at Christmas, especially when the weather is unusually warm. As for that caffeine free tisane, try rooibos or honeybush, as both brew a tasty drink whether hot or cold and can be complimented with milk and sugar for that traditionalist.

What to Serve with Your Christmas Tea

Christmas Tea is Perfect with Petite Fours

Christmas Petite Fours by Flickr User Jo Naylor (

Evening tea typically has both savory and sweet small items to eat. Now, after that big afternoon meal, there is no need to go overboard here. For the savory, the traditional serving is a small mincemeat pie or sausage roll. I don’t know about you, but after having already cooked that afternoon meal I don’t want to cook anymore. So time to pull out the leftovers or borrow from the snack trays that are already out and being munched on while watching football or movies. Just think salty and savory (cheese and crackers, pizza bites, turkey sandwiches cut into quarters, miniature quiche).

For the sweets, head to the cookie tray. Christmas cookies are wonderful companions to a cup of tea, both hot and cold, and Santa will probably appreciate one less on his plate. If something more elegant is desired, petite fours are perfect for tea as they can be made in advanced and decorated in a Christmas theme. If a more traditional biscuit or scone is desired, these can be made in advance, frozen and then popped into the oven just before tea, just don’t forget the jam and butter for these.

Whether it is following the traditional British tea, or creating your own, there is always room to add tea to your holiday traditions. Share your favorite holiday food to eat with tea.

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