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Afternoon Tea Etiquette

When preparing your tea:
  • It is traditional to pour the milk into the cup before the tea.  This was originally done to prevent the glaze on delicate tea cups from cracking.
  • The sugar should always follow in cube form.
  • When stirring your tea, be careful not to clink your spoon against the cup.  Proper etiquette requires the teaspoon to be held at the six o'clock position to begin. Gently swish the spoon back and forth without touching the sides of the cup. 
  • Once completed, remove the spoon and place it on the saucer behind the tea cup to the right of the handle.
  • Never take a drink of your tea without removing the spoon first.

To Drink:
  • If the tea is hot, leave the teacup on the table to cool. Do not blow on the tea.
  • Place your index finger into the handle of the cup up to the knuckle while placing your thumb on the top of the handle to secure the cup. The bottom of the handle should then rest on your third finger. The fourth and fifth fingers should curve back towards the wrist.
  • Never hold the body of the cup with the palm of the hand as this is considered rude.
  • Do not lift the saucer when drinking tea.  This is only proper if standing and if so the saucer must be lifted with the cup.
  • Tea should always be sipped sweetly with elegance to show good manners.
  • Never sip from the spoon.
  • When taking a sip of tea do not look around at the other guests, but lower your eyes so you can see what you're doing.
  • When not in use, the teacup is placed back on the saucer, rather then held.

To Eat:
  • When seated at the table, the napkin is put on one's lap. The napkin should never touch the table once one is seated. Even if temporarily leaving the table, the napkin is set on the seat.
  • As afternoon tea includes delicate sandwiches and pastries, consider it to be finger food; it is acceptable to use your fingers.
  • If you do decide to use utensils, keep your fork in your left hand and your knife in your right hand at all times. When you are done eating, place all your utensils on your plate or saucer.  The knife and fork should be resting at the 4:20 position with the knife slightly counter-clockwise from the fork.
  • Split the scone with a knife.  Lay the used knife on the side of your plate. 
  • Jam or curds are usually placed on the scone and then toped off with a dollop of clotted cream.
  • Always spoon a small amount of jam onto your plate first, as well as some of the clotted cream.  Once on your plate, spread the jam and the dollop of cream onto your scone with your knife, never the serving spoon.
  • Be sure to take small delicate bites.  This will ensure you can still participate in the conversation without always having a full mouth.
  • Chew and swallow completely before taking a drink of tea.  It is hot and is not meant to wash the food down.
  • Once finished Afternoon Tea, fold the napkin and place it to the left of your plate before leaving the table.


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