Afternoon tea is steeped in tradition and the Victorians in particular had all sorts of ideas and rituals about the right way to make tea. To make sure you don’t accidentally offend, etiquette expert Liz Brewer – best known from ITV’s ‘Ladette to Lady’ - has provided her guide to manners.
Tea connoisseurs maintain that tea drunk from bone china cups tastes better and that nothing compares to the elegance and delicacy of a china teacup and saucer.
A teacup and saucer is served with a teaspoon on the saucer.
The tea is poured in first. There is an old tale about the milk being poured in first to prevent poor quality china from cracking. However, by the time the tea is poured it is no longer boiling so this is very unlikely.
Sugar is offered after the tea is poured. Again you would not dream of putting the sugar in first!
The Victorians injected a rule about never directing the spout towards guests. However they also had a rule about covering table and piano legs so you can probably pass on that one.
Drink Delightfully ...
The saucer stays on the table, unless you are standing.
The teacup is held between the finger and thumb and replaced on the saucer between sips.
Never point the little finger (the pinky) in the air.
Eat Exquisitely ...
Sandwiches are eaten with the fingers
Cakes are generally eaten with a small fork, unless it can be eaten without dropping crumbs
Scones are generally broken, spread with cream and jam using a small knife and eaten with the fingers
When taking jam, cream or butter use the knives supplied by the dish to put your choice on the plate. Never use your own utensils to dip in!
Leave a spoon in the teacup
Clang the teaspoon against the cup when stirring
Wipe your nose with the napkin
Fold your napkin when you have finished – leave it crumpled instead
Talk with your mouthful
Liz Brewer is helping the charity Dreams Come True ‘Dream tea’ by contributing her expertise to produce the most enigmatic, original and helpful ideas in order to create stylish Tea Parties on the 21st June. www.dreamscometrue.uk.com