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Q & A Teatime Etiquette

Is teatime etiquette the same for kids as adults?

Teatime etiquette is the same for both kids and adults. Etiquette is polite behavior in society, learning teatime etiquette at a young age enables you to be refined as you become an adult. As with any type of dining etiquette; communication skills, posture, poise, greetings and grooming are as much about teatime as the actually dining at teatime.

What are the top three teatime “do’s”?

1. Do gently stir your tea back and forth from the six o’clock position towards the 12 o’clock position with out touching the sides of the teacup. After you have stirred the tea, place the spoon behind the cup on the saucer.

2. Do brake apart scones with your fingers, not with a knife & fork. The Devon traditions is to spread the crème first than the jam, though the Cornish tradition is jam before the crème. This has been a debate through the years, choose whichever way you prefer. Never sandwich the scones together, eat separately while taking small bites.

3. The most important Do is relax, chat, and take your time while you enjoy this lovely occasion with your guests.

What are the top three “don’ts” etiquette-wise for tea?

1. Don’t add milk & lemon together in your tea as the lemon causes the milk to curdle. Lumpy milk floating in your nice cup of tea is not pleasant, or is the unpleasant taste you may encounter.

2. Don’t leave your spoon in the cup, place the spoon behind your teacup on the saucer.

3. Don’t use the incorrect name for tea. Afternoon Tea and High Tea are often used interchangeably; they are two very different teas. Afternoon Tea is served midafternoon with delectable scones, finger sandwiches, and petite cakes. High Tea includes much more substantive food, traditionally High Tea was a working class meal served on a high table at the end of a workday. Meat, egg dishes, potatoes as well as breads and desserts were served.

What’s the proper suggested dress code?

Many people wonder what the dress code is for such a delectable Afternoon Tea. Most venues are casual or “smart casual.” Casual attire is something you wear daily, for example: blouse, collared shirt, pants, trousers, jeans or skirt. Smart casual is a dressy item mingled with casual items. Examples are: adding a blazer or sweater, healed shoe will elevate the look (heal height doesn’t matter,) a statement accessory are a few ideas (hats and handbags are my favorite.) While most Afternoon Teas don’t have a specific dress code, check the website or ask the host/hostess to be sure. My belief this elegant social occasion is the perfect time to dress up and wear something special.

Is it still pinkies up? Is there a more proper way to hold a cup versus others?

People often believe the proper way to drink tea is with your pinkie out, this is actually rude and implies elitism. This comes form ancient Rome where a cultured person ate with 3 fingers while a commoner ate with 5 fingers.

Regarding tea, which type of tea do your start with?

Pairing tea is fascinating and gives you a better experience while enjoying Afternoon Tea, keeping in mind the most important consideration is your own personal taste. The staff is helpful while deciding which tea (teas) to select.

White teas are light with a subtle flavor, best paired with mild flavors so not to miss the sweetness that white tea is known for.

Green Tea in general is mild, best paired with seafood, fruit and pastries

Light Oolong Tea pair well with seafood and sweet rich foods

Darker Oolong Tea pair well with stronger foods as meats

Black Tea is more robust in flavor and aromas, best served with meat and spicy tea sandwiches

Do you serve others first, yourself, or does it not matter anymore?

Serve others first, start with the guest of honor. Ladies next and then men, serve yourself last. In a business setting serve the guest-of-honor first, guests next (business is gender neutral,) yourself last. When placing a plate of tea goodies for each guest, serve from the guest left, remove from the right of the guest. When serving tea, serve from the right as cups proper place is to the right of the plates.

Is the gratuity structure the same for teatime as a meal?

Yes, the gratuity structure is the same, 15-20 percent. Tea Sommelier’s receive 10-15 percent.

Personally I feel the gratuity says as much about the person tipping as the level of service received.

Are there any best practices when it comes to adding liquor to the teas?

Choose your preferred liquor and pour first with a touch of honey and a spritz of lemon (if desired) and top it off with your favorite tea. Many fun and unique recipes are online, enjoy experimenting with your favorite spirit.

Cheers, Happy Teatime!

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