Tuesday, July 1, 2014

2014 Victorian High Tea at The Bayview or Technology Meets Tradition at The Palms

I live in a very old building, which dates back to the late 1880’s known then as “The Bayview Hotel”.  Supposedly, Josephine and Wyatt Earp lived in this building for a short while after they left Tombstone.  It is now known as "The Palms Hotel".

I had always planned on having a “Victorian Tea” at my apartment in this old building, I thought it would be great fun to try to recreate an event that might have actually happened in this building so many decades ago.

So, I started planning.  I knew it was going to a small event, as my apartment is small, but I wanted it to be a “High Tea”, and that was where I began.

It took me almost four months to accumulate all the Sterling Silver-plate pieces I wanted.  I already had my vintage china, and crystal glasses, but I wanted a vintage Sterling Silver-plate tea service from the 1880’s!  After much searching, bidding, and bargaining, I finally found some pieces that I pulled together to make a great looking set!  I set the date, and sent out my invitations.

Then I was on to the food selection and preparation.  This is where Modern Technology meets Victorian Tea.  My smart phone was an integral part of my entire process.  From placing bids online for my tea items, to paying for them, to finding the stores I needed to purchase certain ingredients, to mapping out my travel arrangements to get there!  My phone was like a personal assistant to me through the entire process and made it so much easier and fun!  Right down to helping me with the menu selection and recipes, all via my phone.  I did a phone search for recipes for “Easy and Great Tea Sandwiches”, and “Mock Devonshire Cream”, “ Charlotte Russe”, and worked directly from my phone with these recipes.  My phone was always just at my fingertips when I needed it, anytime day or night. 

The table linens, china, silverware, and crystal were all set the night prior to the tea.  This allowed me to focus on food prep the morning of the tea.  The morning of the tea was a flurry of activity pulling the last few items together.  Then I had to get dressed in full Victorian Bustle Gown attire before my guests arrived, and present this elegant looking table with a calm demeanor as if everything had magically appeared with the help of a full kitchen staff, when it was really just me!

 I used my 1930’s Vintage China, Ruby Royal by Noritake, as I could not find a full set of china going all the way back to 1880s, so this looked great and went with my color scheme of Burgundy and Gold.  I also used a vintage silverware set from the 1950s, by WM Rogers called Magnolia.  Next, I used modern date Waterford-Marquis tall crystal water glasses called Brookside.  The table linens were a mix of vintage and newer, the runner is quite old, but the Waterford napkins are modern.  The candlesticks are Tiffany and Company purchase at my local Thrift Store, and were a great find.  The flower vase is Waterford, and I found it at a Vintage Flea Market. 

The silverplate I purchased was all thrifted.  The most expensive pieces were the three piece tea service and I purchased that for $17 at my local thrift shop, it was 75% off day, so it was great buy!  The bottom of the sugar bowl and creamer are stamped "1856"!  Everything came seriously tarnished.  I looked for smooth restorable surfaces, no dents, no rust, no corrosion, as I knew I was going to try restore each piece.  After four months, I finally had everything I needed.  The week prior to the tea I began the restoration process, and it took three days.  I used my phone for information on how to restore without damaging the silver and it came up with a video I watched that showed how hot water, tinfoil, water softener, and salt could restore a lot of silver quickly and easily.  I was very skeptical, but I pulled all the ingredients together and began my science project, and low and behold it Worked!  Almost a third of all my pieces came up shiny and perfect!  So quick and easy it was amazing!  I had also used my phone to find online a “shine and silver re-plate” product.  It came with one of those “dunk” solutions which eats a thin layer of silver off to clean your pieces.  So, the next night I tried the remaining two-thirds pieces, and it worked on another third of them.  Unfortunately, it also ate through the last layer of silver on several pieces, so while it helped, it also created more work.  The third and final night was polishing and replating night for all the remaining pieces.  I had found a product called “Liquid Silver” by Medallion Care online with good reviews, so I ordered it online using my smart phone.  I was not expecting much, and so I was pleasantly surprised by the results!  Everything came out beautifully!  In the entire process, I only lost one piece that I could not restore, and I was more than happy with the final results! 

The table was beautifully set; it had sparkle and shine just as I had hoped it would!  The food looked delicious, and everything was in readiness for the first guest to arrive – for a few hours it was like stepping back in time, it was a Magical Victorian Tea!

Victorian High Tea at The Palms

Sparkling Muscato Rose

Orange-Cranberry Scones
Lingonberry Scones
Mock Devonshire Cream
Lemon Curd
Strawberry Preserves

Thai Pepper Chicken on Romaine
Chicken Salad with Apple Slices on Mini Ciabatta
Cucumber with Cream Cheese and Mandarin Oranges on White
Ham and Swiss Cheese on Russian

Charlotte Russe
Chocolate Covered Jumbo Strawberries
Marble Pound Cake
Shortbread Cookies
Chocolate Straws


  1. I've heard about how pretty you had decorated your home so I was happy to see some photos of it. And I loved reading about your details and planning your tea since I do that too. Everything looks beautiful.

    1. It was a LOT of work, but it paid off in the long run. It was exactly what I had hope it would be - check that one off the Bucket List!