There are times, certainly, when the
World hardly seems like home
When the sun comes at us coldly
Through light years of haze
When the winds, pushy, punitive,
Blow blossoms against asphalt
And men and women are vague voices
Understood and unknown.
There are jonquils everywhere, as always,
Those silent yellow screamers;
And all the others,
Energetic clusters of colored petals
And loud birds busily building.
Those things never change.
But those cool stones under the cedars
Those crumbling bunches of dirt
Why were they unseen last season?
And why was it only the plum blossoms
That made their impression--
Why only now do I know
Dazzled only lately
By the beauty
Of last season’s rotting leaves?
Blue and white certainly captures the essence of early spring. I have noticed that both Victoria and Tea Time magazines feature a Blue and White Tea almost every year. But we do not need to be rigid when planning the color palette for a casual tea. As my poem “Spring II” suggests, shades of gray can complement any combination of colors, as can various shades of cream. And what about green as the ultimate spring color? When I was a girl, the fashion police warned us never to wear blue and green together. What silly advice! Had they never looked at a Scottish tartan? Blue and green are best friends, just as the trees, the grass, the sea and the sky are always found right next to each other.
When planning the menu for a tea party, one must always be mindful of the season of the year. You are invited to peruse Kathleen’s lovely “A Spring Tea” menu on this website in the “Afternoon Tea and the Four Seasons” chapter of The Tea Book. Kathleen has included an array of fresh green early spring vegetables, including asparagus, peas, chives and green onions. Her spring menu also features elderflower, rhubarb and strawberries. And keep in mind that the china and serving pieces for any tea party, whether formal, casual or focused on a special occasion, do not need to match perfectly, as long as they create a harmonious mood. To gather ideas for your spring tea party, feel free to browse through the “Tea Utensils and Accessories” chapter of The Tea Book section of or website.
One must also think about the guests and their backgrounds, interests and preferences. For my New Year’s Tea Party, described in my January blog of this year, my guests were all familiar with British culture and winter foods, such as Dark Fruitcake with Hard Sauce, that would be expected to be present at a northern European style tea party. My neighbors, on the other hand, come from a variety of backgrounds and places. Some were born and raised here in Hawaii, and others come from the mainland and beyond. So that all my guests will feel comfortable, I have developed a menu that includes familiar foods that can be purchased at the local grocery store or farmers’ market, with just a slight touch of local Hawaiian style. You can adapt this menu to feature local favorites that are available in the springtime in the area where you live.
You can easily make the menu listed below with help from this website. The recipes for most of the items in this menu’s Scones and Savories sections appear in the “Tea Menu Basics” chapter of our Tea Book. This chapter is filled with free recipes to get you started as a tea party host or hostess and includes the recipe for Basic Butter Scones, which will create perfect Raisin Scones. The recipes for Cream Scones, Lemon Curd and Mock Devonshire Cream also appear in the same chapter, along with the instructions for making Cream Cheese Chive Spread in the Savory Spreads and Dips section. “Tea Menu Basics” also includes an entire section on making tea sandwiches.
Smoked Ahi Tuna spread is available in local groceries here in Hawaii, but if you can’t find it already prepared where you live, you can certainly substitute your favorite Tuna Salad recipe or use the Egg Salad or Ham Salad Sandwich instructions from “Tea Menu Basics.” If it is still chilly in March where you live, you could substitute Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and little cups of Tomato Soup for the Swiss Cheese and Tomato Sandwiches in this menu. My September 2017 blog includes a wonderful recipe for Tomato and Sourdough Soup.
You may notice that the menu for our Casual Blue and White Spring Tea focuses on humble foods, all vegetarian. This year, the entire month of March takes place during Lent, a season when traditional Christians focus for forty days on prayer, fasting and service to the poor. Also, I admit to being a vegetarian myself. However, meat eaters are welcome to introduce heartier, animal-based items to this menu. Roast Beef Sandwiches on heavy, dark bread such as Twelve Grain or Rye, with mustard or horseradish would be a good substitute for the Cream Cheese and Chive Spread with Radish Slices on Taro Rolls, especially if you have trouble finding Taro Rolls in your local bakery.
The most elegant dessert on our Blue and White Tea menu is the Blueberry Trifle with Almond Biscotti. A Trifle is a visually attractive combination of layers of cake, custard, fruit and other ingredients such as crushed cookies, nuts and jam. A Trifle should always be served from a clear glass bowl to reveal the various colors and textures of the ingredients. Our website contains four different Trifle recipes. I suggest that you look at the photographs of our Trifles to get a feel for this beautiful and versatile dessert. For the Blueberry Trifle you will be making, just fill the prettiest glass bowl you have with layers of store-bought Pound Cake (Sarah Lee,) cut into slices, home-made vanilla custard, fresh blueberries, and crushed store-bought Almond Biscotti (I used La Dolce Vita Classic Italian Biscotti from Costco,) along with dabs of Blueberry Jam (Bonne Maman Wild Blueberry Preserves.) and toasted slivered almonds Top this beautiful creation with a mound of home-made whipped cream and a few additional fresh blueberries. This classic blue and white dessert is the signature item in your special Blue and White Spring Tea, so display it prominently in the center of the dessert table.
I have included the recipe for the Pineapple Ginger Crumble Bars, using fresh pineapple, which I adapted from a recipe I found in Southern Living. If finding a good ripe pineapple and cutting it into chunks seems like too much trouble, you can substitute drained crushed canned pineapple or pineapple preserves. I hope that you and your guests will have a lovely, relaxing time at your Blue and White Tea and that March will be a time of beauty and growth for all of you.
A Casual Blue and White Spring Tea
- Hawaiian Lemonade (Lemonade with Fresh Ginger)
- Genmaicha (Japanese Green Tea with Roasted Popped Brown Rice)
- Black English Breakfast Tea
- Espresso or Cappuccino
- Cream Scones
- Raisin Scones
- Served with:
- Mock Devonshire Cream
- Lemon Curd
- Guava Jelly
- Smoked Ahi Tuna Spread with Watercress on White Bread
- Swiss Cheese and Tomato on Brown Bread
- Cream Cheese and Chive Spread with Radish Slices on Taro Rolls
- Tea Marbled Eggs (Recipe in my February 2020 Blog)
- Blueberry Trifle with Almond Biscotti
- Pineapple Ginger Crumble Bars
- Chocolate Shortbread Sandwich Cookies with Marshmallow Filling
- Orange Pound Cake with Dark Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts and Fresh Strawberries
Pineapple Ginger Crumble Bars
(with Asian Serving Pieces)
This delicious finger food dessert is perfect for any tea party, picnic or casual gathering. Though bar cookies may not be viewed as the height of elegance, the ingredients in these bars prove otherwise. This home-made tropical delight includes fresh pineapple, candied ginger, coconut and chopped macadamia nuts. With the first bite, you can almost hear a Ukulele, strumming in the trade winds.
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger
- ¼ cup angel flake coconut
- ¼ cup chopped macadamia nuts
For the filling:
- 4 cups fresh pineapple, cut into small chunks (from 1 pineapple)
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Cooking spray
Special equipment: large mixing bowl, hand-held electric mixer, 2 small bowls, 9“x 13” baking pan, parchment, paring knife, wire rack, pineapple cutting tool or sharp knife, cutting board, medium sized bowl, fork
Makes: 16-32 squares
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9” x 13” baking pan with cooking spray. Line the pan with parchment and spray again. Set aside. Finely mince the candied ginger and the macadamia nuts and set aside in a small bowl.
- Make the crust: Beat the butter, vanilla, powdered sugar and ¼ teaspoon salt in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Slowly add the flour until the mixture is well blended. Stir in the coconut, chopped macadamia nuts and chopped candied ginger and mix just until incorporated.
- Reserve 1 cup of the mixture in a small bowl for the topping. Press the remaining crust mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake the crust in the pre-heated oven until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven, but do not turn the oven off. Cool the crust completely on a wire rack, about 30 minutes.
- Cut and chop the pineapple into small chunks, placing the chunks into a medium sized bowl. (Reserve the juice for another use.) Add the cornstarch, lemon juice, 1/3 cup of sugar and ¼ teaspoon of salt, gently mixing until thoroughly combined. Add a little extra sugar to taste if the pineapple chunks are tart. Spread the pineapple mixture evenly over the cooled crust.
- Using a fork, break the reserved topping mixture into crumbs. Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the pineapple mixture. Bake at 375 degrees F until the topping is lightly browned and the filling is bubbly, about 45-55 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour. Cut into 16- 32 squares, depending on the size you prefer. Remove from the parchment and serve. These bars are best the day they are made.