Basically, she says, any event that includes tea can be considered a tea party - something small and intimate, a gathering between close friends or something huge and elaborate.
"It's a ceremony that is all about celebrations," Stern says. "Tea parties bring everyone together."
Anyone can host a tea party. All you have to do is pick a theme, Stern says.
"Make it simple and base your theme on your guests' tastes," she says.
Tea parties don't have to be elegant and formal. Stern's new book includes an eclectic range of themes, some traditional like the Fashionable French Tea, while others, such, as the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, are more modern. She makes it easy by including recipes and tips on how to make your party a success.
Stern's book also includes a specially themed Gentlemen's Tea, complete with recipes and tips designed to get guys involved.
Tea parties can be tremendous fun. The possibilities are endless. However, if you don't feel like organizing your own tea party, you might try visiting tea houses in the area. Shaharazade's Exotic Tea Room is in Shepherdstown, W.Va., and offers a variety of teas by the cup - whites, blacks, greens, chai and herbal - in a casual, Persian-themed atmosphere. Shaharazade's also offers a high tea complete with a pot of tea, scones, sandwiches and cookies. If your group includes more than four, they recommend calling ahead to place reservations.
Many coffeehouses also serve a variety of teas.
There are also a couple of Web sites that can help you find a tea house in your local area: www.teaguide.net and www.teamap.com. However, if you use these, make sure you call the tea house before visiting.