There is just something about tea. When we think of the Queen of England, we often think of her tea. The Japanese tea pouring ceremony is among the most elegant world cultural experiences. And, of course, there is nothing like an imaginary tea party hosted by a child.
When opening the box, one immediately notices the superb craftsmanship of the pieces. Tea Party includes a real cloth tablecloth and glossy punch-out cardboard pieces perfectly sized for little hands, not too big to be cumbersome and not so small they could become lost. The art by illustrator Lizzy Rockwell is exquisite, just a shade below realism to add to the imagination in play. Each of the four sheets contains a unique set of food items and its own pattern on the dishes so players can match them.
In Tea Party, the tablecloth is spread, and the punch-outs are placed in the box as a “tea tray.” Players take turns spinning the teapot spinner, hoping to collect a piece from each category: a napkin and utensils, the cream and sugar, sandwiches, fruit, dessert, and a teacup. Before they can collect any of the food items, though, they must spin to win a plate, otherwise where would it all go? The first player to have spun his or her way into all seven categories wins. Players should watch out for the “bees” square, however, which causes a player to forfeit an already collected item.
The versatile foods in the sandwich, fruit, and dessert categories are mouthwatering and allow each player to pick his or her favorite. Sandwiches come in the form of heart-shaped PB&J, a delectable salmon bagel, and fancy cuts. The fruits are strawberries, cherries, grapes, and classy peach slices. Sweetest of all, desserts offer minicakes, slices of cake and pie, or a whole cinnamon roll.
As players spin, it is a good time to practice manners. Someone might have an eye out for the chocolate cake, but a proper tea party guest does not complain if another player gets to it first, instead he or she enjoys something else.
The Tea Party Game is a spinning game for two to four players aged five and up. Younger players may not quite have the patience for spinning just yet, but they will enjoy playing with the pieces, which are just as fun as toys by themselves. The spinning system is easy to learn, and the rules have extensions to keep the game from becoming monotonous, such as using the alphabet to think up what dish they’ve spun. Players could use alliteration by having “Cucumber, Cream Cheese, and watercress sandwiches, Cherries, Chocolate mousse, and Chamomile tea” or have the letters be sequential like “Lime squares, Melon balls, New potatoes, and Orange spice tea.” Home-made rules are encouraged as well. After all, it’s your tea party!