If you are looking for a way to add a bit of everyday Kate-inspired glamour to your day, you may want to consider beginning a tradition of partaking in afternoon tea. Not only will it help you relax after a long day of work, it can become a fun, social activity. Invite a small group of fabulous friends over and chat over a fresh pot of tea.
Before you begin this lovely tradition, first read up on some of the do’s and don’ts of how to handle your tea. There are many rules of etiquette surrounding this tradition, but these particular tips focus on English tea etiquette.
Setting the table
Setting the table for tea is a bit different from setting it for a dinner party. Always place the tray with food and the teapots in the middle of the table. Each place setting should follow this diagram, with a plate and placard directly in front of a person and a teacup on the right, on top of a saucer. Although it may seem like a lot of silverware, all are customary and can be used during afternoon tea!
Preparing your tea
Whether you are new to the art of tea or not, most tea bags or loose-leaf tea that you buy will have instructions on how best to prepare it. It is customary to steep Earl Grey tea for about five minutes. When preparing your cup of tea, pour in your tea and add whatever you desire, whether that be sugar, lemon, or milk. Place your teaspoon at the 6 o’clock position in your cup and stir tea toward the 12 o’clock position while being mindful of not letting your spoon clank against the side of the cup. Once finished, place the spoon on your saucer, never leaving it in your cup. Now you are ready to drink!
Drinking your tea
While popular culture may have indicated that you are supposed to hold your pinkies up when drinking tea, this is false. The proper way to hold a teacup is to place your index finger in the handle, with your thumb resting on top of the handle and your second finger resting underneath the handle. The ring finger and the pinky curve in toward the wrist, like in the image below. When drinking tea, be sure to take small sips and be mindful of slurping.
How to eat at afternoon tea
The best part of any afternoon tea are the delicacies it offers. From scones to tea sandwiches, you most certainly will not go hungry at an afternoon tea. It is customary to take small bites, even when the food itself is already small. Never put a whole tea sandwich in your mouth at once. When eating a scone, spread jam or cream with a knife, never dunking it into the cream.
As with any party or gathering, remember your table manners and etiquette. Refrain from using a cell phone during tea. Enjoy the company of your friends in a new and elegant way!