desi afternoon tea

English Tea, Desi Chai: How to Host a Desi Afternoon Tea

Last Sunday I had a few friends over for some desi afternoon tea. Sharing some pictures, menu and our desi touch to an English tradition. While us South Asians got the habit of tea drinking from the days of the British Raj in the subcontinent, we have given it a distinct desi flair by adding an elaborate spread.

I hosted the desi afternoon tea with a friend at my house as we celebrated the birthday of a common friend. We asked everyone to come around 3 p.m. I found some cute decorations at a local dollar store that went with our “tea time” theme. In order to reduce the stress on the day of the party, I set up the table and decorations the night before. I like to know where everything will go to avoid crowding the table, so always put the empty dishes on the table to mark their spot. Also found a kurta perfect for the occasion with little tea pots on it. Decided to add a string of pearls to the outfit to go with the English and desi fusion theme of the event.


desi afternoon tea

For the backdrop I used an artificial flower strand I had at home from Michaels. The dollar store also had teapots and teacups stringed together for decoration that I used. I set up the table with teapots, tea cups and a string of pearls. To add height I used old books. I put fresh lilies in water bottles and put them around the table. To give a vintage touch I used paper doilies under the bottles and all dishes. My friend made a banner for the birthday girl which we added to the window.

Desi Afternoon Tea Menu

The menu for our desi afteroon tea was a combination of desi/southasian chai dishes and classic english tea accompaniments. I like to choose the majority of dishes for tea so that I don’t constantly have to worry about warming them up.

desi afternoon tea

My friend made tuna sandwiches and set up a station for pani puri. I made fruit chaat and vegetable pasta. We got the cake and macaroons from Yum Bakery at the Calgary Farmers’ market a day before. We also bought ready-made samosas with an imli dip, some biscuits, cream puffs and lots of desi snacks like daal moong that we put in small cups we got from the dollar store. Two other friends brought a platter of vegetable quiches and a loaf of cardamom and pista bread.

Besides water, we also made a drink of pomegranate juice + carbonated water for the guests.


I brought out my fine bone china tea cups for the special occasion. We steeped tea in pots and had sugar and evaporated milk out for guests to add. And what’s a desi afternoon tea without a little pun? So we added a throw back to the classic Lipton tea ad.


The hosts set the tone of the event by welcoming the guests with warmth and being attentive to their needs. Music also plays a great role! I made a playlist on Patari the night before and it was a hoot! Was great to listen to Vital Signs, Noor Jehan, Nayara Noor, Benjamin Sisters and Noori.

After the cake had been cut, people had eaten and were settling down on the sofas with their tea, I debated whether I should introduce the game I had kept incase we needed it. The conversation was flowing great, people were chatting in small groups and there were no awkward silences. However I felt it might be great to have one activity that we all did together so I brought out the game.

It was a very simple one really that I had made up myself. I had found two hat-tiaras at the dollar store (from the mad hatter tea party aisle). I added “Asks” at the back of one. We asked everyone to form a loose circle between the sofas and the chairs and passed the tiaras on opposite sides. Now we played the music while people passed the tiaras to each other. When the music stopped, the two people with the tiaras in their hands got to put it on their heads. The one who got the tiara with the “Asks” at the back got to ask ANY question from the other girl. We had a lot of fun with silly and scandalous questions. We learnt a lot about each other and it definitely made for great memories.

birthday Gift Idea

I’m all for cutting clutter and materialism from our lives. The birthday girl is a new mom and we felt a spa treat would be the perfect gift for her. We asked everyone to bring in whatever cash amount they were comfortable with and added that to a box. That contributed towards a gift card for a spa treat for the birthday girl. We had a birthday card out for everyone to sign. Simple.

Hope you enjoyed this tour of our desi afternoon tea! How do you enjoy your chai? Would love to hear from you!

[Read More: How to Host the Dawat-of-the-year]

22 thoughts on “English Tea, Desi Chai: How to Host a Desi Afternoon Tea

  1. Love it Urdumom. I have been a silent reader for a while but wanted to laud you on your efforts.

  2. Lovely decor and ideas for tea time !! The spread looks quite inviting ;). But where did you all hide the kids ? Lol.

  3. Ahhhhmmmmazinnnng masha ALLAH!!!! You are sooooo creative, loved every detail of your CHAI, from photos to the game and gift idea, masha ALLAH, keep it up 🙂 ameen.

  4. Lovely articles. I might be stay at home mom soon. For sure your articles will be in my psitive reading list. Love the decorations.

  5. Just came across your blog because I’m looking to throw my sister a High-Tea Bridal Shower. She loves Desi Chai so then I decided to go with a similar theme to your party – I’m calling it Chai Paani. All your tips and ideas in this blog post have made things so much easier for me! Thank you so much for sharing!!!

  6. You no doubt are a thorough professional which highlights in all aspects and phases of your life. I am a ‘stay at home mom ‘ though I was teaching for a few years when my kids were school going.It was my passion yet never opted as a career. My ultimate satisfaction has always been my home and all my concentration and focus were my husband and kids. Now I babysit my grand kids too as my daughters are working.But as I read your post I felt even more proud of myself in terms of being at this high position. Respect for my own self in my eyes has been elevated more. Thank you and stay blessed.

  7. This is so amazing. Your blog is like coming home. Thankyou for sharing your life with us. I don’t have any sisters and I’ve always craved advice, example and insight only sisters can provide. Thankyou for filling this crazy little space in my heart. ?

  8. I feel like inviting myself over for tea! ? I always love tea parties more than dinners/lunches! It’s the perfect time and has a variety of snacks that are not too heavy on the tummy! Plus there is chai so how can it be not awesome ?

  9. Also a silent reader but really loved this, wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing JazakAllahkhair!

  10. I have so so so much respect for you! I came across your page randomly on FB I think last year or the year before and since then I make sure to read your blog.
    There were so many questions which I always had in my mind but didnt ask anyone… reading your posts (I am still digging the past posts) I get alot of ideas and answers!
    So THANK YOU and God bless ???

  11. Scrolling down on the Facebook I always stop to read your articles. Very helpful indeed and the best thing about your writings is that they are not made up!! Actual details. Keep up your good work! And may Allah reward you for handing down useful information. You have created sadqa jaria for yourself.

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