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28th Feb 2020

These new cups and saucers from Sostrene Grene are so pretty we want to host an afternoon tea right now

Leslie Ann Horgan

Having afternoon tea is, basically, my favourite thing in the world. Hosting afternoon tea, however, has proved to be a substantial challenge.

By the time I’ve burnt and thrown out the first patch of scones, made a dash to the supermarket for more ingredients, hardboiled eggs, thinly sliced cucumber, cut the corners off the sandwiches, assembled tiny pieces of smoked salmon onto bread, filled cake plates with colourful fancies, then – deep breaths– repeated the entire process with different bakes for the members of my party who eat gluten-free, I’m pretty much fit for bed.

The last thing that I have energy for at that point is decorating a table that elevates my humble afternoon tea efforts into Instagramable territory.

My mum, as ever, is a much more practical creature than myself and she’s given me an invaluable tip for hosting any kind of foodie occasion – set the table the night before.

That way the arrangement of space, assembly and cleaning of dishes, and overall aesthetic gets my full attention at a time when I have the mental energy to be creative and not panic. In fact, it usually gets me excited about what’s to come.

It’s a practice that’s served our family well for countless Christmas dinners, and is now employed at pretty much any occasion I host in my own home.

Next time I’m laying out a table for afternoon tea, I’ll include some of the gorgeous new dishes from Sostrene Grene. Launching on March 5, the store’s new party collection includes a selection of porcelain cups, saucers, bowls and serving plates.

The dishes come in a faded sage green as well as a soft pink, and feature a fluted edge that gives them a vintage feel. Despite the dainty look, however, they can be bunged in the dishwasher when your guests are gone.

The cups cost €3.78 each, while the matching saucers are €2.12. The small bowls are pried at €3.45 and the serving plates are sold at €5.46 each. They’ll be available at Sostrene Grene stores nationwide, including in Cork, Limerick and across Dublin.

I love the simple stying that the brand has done in its photos, adding some potted hyacinths for a spring feel alongside some simple tea lights, and leaving the cups as the star of the show. The look is afternoon tea classy without being stuffy and formal, and so easy to recreate that you wouldn’t even have to do it the night before… Just don’t tell my mum.