Learn how to master the tea sandwich.

Cucumber-Mint Chutney Tea Sandwiches
Credit: © Tina Rupp

F&W restaurant editor Kate Krader recently named her favorite dishes of the past year, and one was an extraordinary tea sandwich from Press in Napa. Stuffed with a deep-fried chicken wing, spicy salsa and horseradish cream, it's one heck of a great snack. But it’s not exactly a traditional tea sandwich.

For those who'd like their tea times to evoke Oscar Wilde’s England, here’s our guide to making classically dainty and elegant finger sandwiches.

Use sandwich bread. Typically, tea sandwiches are made with squishy, mild white bread, but there are some acceptable substitutions like rye, wheat and pumpernickel. Just make sure to use thin slices of something you wouldn't hesitate to call “sandwich bread,” rather than a thick, crusty loaf.

Slice off the crusts. As adults, we have learned to love bread crusts, but they have no place when it comes to tea sandwiches. They’re just not dainty enough.

Don’t go overboard with fillings. Tea sandwiches are supposed to be easy to handle, presenting no risk of staining your white lace gloves or pinafore, so keep the fillings to a minimum. Opt for crunchy, thinly sliced radishes with butter, a light spread of curried egg salad or classic cucumber.

Use every bit of the bread. Since you are using restraint with the fillings, make sure you spread the butter and toppings out to the very edge of the bread. No bite should be bland.

Cut sandwiches small. The rule of thumb is that you should be able to eat an entire sandwich in just two bites. Cut the sandwiches into tiny triangles or rectangles, or use a cookie cutter to make whimsical shapes.

Now that you have all the tips you need, try them out with these great tea sandwich recipes.