Ettiquette Tips for Afternoon Tea

Heather Dilts-Baiano
afternoon tea london

Afternoon tea with the girlfriends? Or maybe an outing with Mom? Here are a few etiquette tips to ensure the most enjoyable afternoon tea, and a few places to try out your new knowledge!

Put that Pinkie Down

Tips for Tea Time

1- Let’s start with the napkin. As you sit, take the napkin and lay it on your lap with the crease folded towards you.

2- Dunking biscuits? This is a big “no-no”. Public dunking of biscuits is just not going to go over well at The Mandarin Oriental.

3- Moving on to stirring. Here, experts have differing opinions. A more “common” way to stir is to place your spoon in the cup at the position of 6 o’clock and stir the tea towards 12 o’clock – without hitting the sides! Other etiquette professionals say to stir the tea back and forth, so it would be from 6 o’clock to 12 o’clock and repeat. It is definitely agreed there should be no clanging the spoon against the cup, and no banging to knock tea off after. A simple flick of the spoon is acceptable before placing on the saucer beside the cup.

4- Hold the cup by supporting the handle on the middle finger, without hooking the finger through. Thumb and forefinger should meet inside the handle. Scones should be broken apart by your hands, not cut with a knife. Scones should also never be put back together like a sandwich. Oh, and it’s pronounced “skon,” not scone.

5- Now, the hottest topic of debate is milk or tea first!? There are two schools of thought. One is to pour tea first, then let your guests taste and add milk if desired. The other thought is to pour milk first, as it combines the two liquids better and protects delicate china from damage due to boiling tea. Some experts say to add milk second, as you really don’t know the strength of the tea when freshly poured.

6- As far as attire, dress neatly and comfortably. Afternoon tea can create a fun sense of occasion- but most venues have a relaxed ‘smart casual’ dress code these days. There is no need for men to wear a jacket and tie – trousers or smart jeans, and collared shirt are acceptable. No sportswear or trainers! For the ladies it really is the perfect excuse to get dressed up, but don’t feel pressure to be too formal!

7- And lastly, put that pinkie down! It serves no purpose (and really, it makes you look silly.)

tea

Have a Sip or Two

Gifts for the Tea Lover

Once you have these etiquette tips for afternoon tea in your pocket,there are endless places to enjoy. Afternoon tea can be a shared experience or even a gift for mom.

If you are looking for further instruction, stop in at the Claridge Hotel. With a tea list curated by Henrietta Lovell, known as the Tea Lady, Claridge’s can’t be beat. Bring a few friends and enjoy an exclusive private afternoon tutored tea-tasting, with select teas, scones and sandwiches.

If sightseeing makes a more appropriate gift, visit Oxford for a walking tour for two. The tour can be designed to personal likes and tastes, and enjoy afternoon tea in the beautiful city after your tour.

Sometimes you need something a little more relaxed. For times like these, practice your etiquette tips  at the Soho Hotel, along with a movie of the week. You’ll enjoy tea in Refuel restaurant, and relax with a film after!

The History of Japanese Tea

Afternoon tea should be fun! Try not to think too hard about the etiquette, and enjoy yourselves.