How to Serve Tea in Bed

Revisiting an article from not too long ago…

Whether you are caring for an invalid or treating your spouse or “special someone” to a bit of pampering, knowing how to serve tea in bed can make all the difference in the enjoyment of that occasion.

Essential Ingredients

Real rose in small vase — just the right size for that bed tray! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)
Real rose in small vase — just the right size for that bed tray! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

This is going to sound like a total no-brainer, but sometimes even the obvious needs to be stated. Here are the items needed for a proper tea in bed:

  • Tray, preferably the kind that has legs so the tray doesn’t rest on your legs. And be sure the tray has a good edge to it, even a bit overly tall to help prevent knocking things off onto the bed.
  • Teapot, full of perfectly steeped tea, of course! Traditionally, this would be a strong black tea, but nowadays it could be anything ranging from White Peony, Liu An Gua Pian (Sunflower Seed) Green Tea, Anxi Gande 6A Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea, or Lapsang Souchong to an herbal infusion or your favorite flavored tea.
  • Sugar bowl (full), creamer (full), or whatever other items you prefer (honey, lemon, etc.) to go with the tea. This, too, will vary depending on the tea or herbal being served.
  • A napkin, and it must be a nice linen one, not those lowbrow paper things.
  • A small vase with flowers — the live kind, not plastic or silk fake ones. The live kind add color, charm, and hopefully a lovely but not overpowering fragrance.

These items are optional and depend on whether the tea in bed is that first morning cuppa (also known as “bed tea” which is explained below) or a bit more:

Scones and clotted cream and fruit jam!
Scones and clotted cream and fruit jam!
  • Breakfast tea in bed: toast, butter, orange marmalade or strawberry jam, an egg in an egg cup (usually soft boiled but could be hard boiled, which is how we usually have them), and a rolled up copy of the morning paper if available.
  • Mid-morning tea in bed: tea biscuits, fresh fruit, or a selection of cruditées (raw vegetables).
  • Luncheon tea in bed: anything that isn’t too sloshy (such as soup) or that can be too messy (such as barbecued ribs or fried chicken).
  • Afternoon tea in bed: a “cream tea” is good here since scones, clotted cream, and fruit jam can be eaten fairly easily in that odd sitting position in bed.
  • Dinner (high) tea in bed: some nice steak-and-kidney pie comes to mind now but you might want to opt for roast chicken or fried pork chops with the usual accompaniment of vegetable dishes. Just be sure they can be eaten with knife and fork to avoid that extra finger mess.

The Phenomenon of “Bed Tea”

This photo seen on Blue Fern Bed & Breakfast’s Facebook page (click image to go there) features a coffee pot, but you get the idea!
This photo seen on Blue Fern Bed & Breakfast’s Facebook page (click image to go there) features a coffee pot, but you get the idea!

Serving tea in bed to those just waking and before they start their day is a tradition going back generations. It is offered in various hotels as “bed tea” but also known by that term in several countries where tea drinking is quite popular. “Bed tea” is a tradition in Sri Lanka, a key tea grower in the world. The term simply means the first tea of the day when you wake up, but one that is often served to you while you’re still in bed.

There are special tea sets designed just for this indulgence, like this one from Stash, a well-known tea brand. Their description: “A lovely excuse to indulge in one of life’s little luxuries a little more often. Teapot, stackable mugs, creamer and sugar bowl set nicely on a deep bamboo serving tray sized to give plenty of room for the Sunday paper and morning scones. Stoneware is dishwasher and microwave safe. Tray cleans with damp cloth.”

Here’s wishing you a wonderfully tea in bed!

© 2015 A.C. Cargill photos and text

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