Tea Table Manners

During a "full tea" at least three courses are served such as scones, tea sandwiches, and sweets. "Light tea" may have only have scones and sweets.

To follow are basic tea etiquette tips:

1. Since it is a tea party, it’s okay to eat with fingers. However, if an item is particularly messy (has a runny filling), then use a fork.  Be sure that you have cleansed your hands well, before sitting at the table.  Not only is it considerate of others, it helps keep your friends and family healthy.

2. If all the courses are laid out on the table, eat them in this order: first scones or muffins; then the tiny sandwiches, and last the sweets. Think of it like a meal where you can start with bread, then have the main course, but save the dessert for last.

Although it is common for Americans to slice their scone before spreading the butter or jam, it is not the standard of tea drinking society. The correct manner to eat a scone is the same manner one eats a dinner roll. For scones or muffins, break off a bite-size piece, then spread a small amount of jam or butter. If Devonshire or clotted cream is served, a small amount can be dabbed on after the jam. This thick cream is for scones, not for the tea.   Simply break off a bite size piece of scone, place it on your plate and then apply, with your bread and butter knife, the jam and cream. A fork is not used to eat a scone and please, no dipping!

4. Using manners your mother has always told you, take small bites of the tiny items. Never stuff the whole thing in their mouth, even though it’s small. By taking small bites, you will prolong the pleasant tastes and company you are enjoying.

5. At most teas, cubes are the prefered way to serve sugar but If served granulated sugar, be careful not to use the serving spoon in your tea cup to stir.  Use your own teaspoon for stirring your tea, setting it on your saucer when finished. Do not stir your tea in clanging circular motions. Softly fold the liquid from the six oclock position to the twelve o'clock position two or three times, being carefull not to clang your spoon on the inside of cup.  When not in use, place your tea spoon on the right side of the tea saucer. Never wave or hold your tea cup in the air. When not in use, place the tea cup back in the tea saucer. If you are at a buffet tea, hold the tea saucer in your lap with your left hand and hold the tea cup in your right hand. When not in use, place the tea cup back in the tea saucer and hold in your lap.

6. When holding your cup, its ok to have your pinkie up!  Originally teacups were made in China, These small cups had no handles and to not spill the hot tea on oneself, the proper way to hold the cup was to place the thumb at  six o'clock position and the index & middle fingers at twelve o'clock position, gently raising the pinkie for balance.  Once the handle was introduced to the teacup, the tradition continued. By placing fingers to the front and back of the handle with the pinkie up, allows for balance. Its not manditory to hold out your pinkie or meant to be snootty,  its just a way to avoid spilling.  Never loop your fingers through the handle, or grip the cup with the palm of your hand. 

7. If the tea is hot, do not blow on the tea. Leave your teacup on the table to cool, as it reinforces to your host you are relaxed and enjoying the company and are in no hurry.  One should note, that if you like milk in your tea, never add lemon!  It will curdle the milk and you will be left with an unpleasant muck.  So, either milk or lemon, never both!

8. Hopefully, the tea will be served with teapots, rather than individual tea bags.  Loose tea is by far a better choice for flavorfull tea.  While its not manditory for loose tea, it can get messy with bags, (especially with kids). If there are tea bags, look for a provision for or a small dish to place the used tea bags.

Rachel's Birthday Tea - enjoyed by all ages.