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Afternoon Tea Tips from Ms. Carole Margaret Randolph Washington, D.C. Protocol Expert

Fairmont Washington, D.C., Georgetown

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For newbies on the tea scene, the age old tradition of taking tea can sometimes feel a little daunting.  The Fairmont Washington, D.C. has teamed with Washington, D.C. Protocol Expert Carole Ms. Randolph to shed light on this custom, taking you from a novice to a true tea connoisseur in no time. 

  1. Whether having tea in the hotel lounge or in a tearoom the best title for the 2011's is "Afternoon Tea". "Light Tea" is used on occasion which is a lighter version consisting of scones, sweets. "Royal Tea" is served with a glass of champagne or sherry, a four-course menu of finger sandwiches, scones, sweets, dessert, and a choice of tea."High Tea" at 4 p.m. is often misused to make a tea sound more refined or exclusive. It is not finger sandwiches, scones, and sweets. It is a hearty simple sit-down meal and was the main course of the day for workers in shops, factories, and mines many years ago. Now it is the form of a light buffet supper. (So it is not used much at all.)
  2. A proper "Afternoon Tea" should have a teapot with loose tea in it, a strainer and an extra pot of hot water.
  3. Tea is properly taken straight, or with sugar, lemon or milk (Milk not cream).  Always pour the tea first to check it's strength before adding milk.
  4. Lemon is served thinly sliced on a plate with a lemon fork and sugar is best in cubes with sugar tongs, if available, for elegance and neatness.
  5. When you ask if your guest wants "strong or weak tea then when you are pouring the strong tea, the cup should be three-fourths full to prevent it from spilling into the saucer.
  6. If weak tea is desired then pour the cup about one-half full, leaving space for the addition of hot water.
  7. Never fill the tea cup to the rim because the result is messy and spills in the saucer, and causes dripping tea as one lifts the cup to one's lips.
  8. Unlike the large dinner napkin which is folded in half with the fold facing the body, the tea or luncheon napkin may be opened completely on the lap.
  9. When eating a scone you will need to slice through the scone on your plate and lift off the top piece. Using the knife, spread only the bottom half first with jam and cream. Place the knife on the upper right side of your plate and pick up this half of the scone up with your hand.
  10. If needed, for more tea, the boiling water is poured over the tea leaves in the teapot and the leaves steep three to five minutes, producing more tea in a more reduced temperature then the first cup.


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