Tea Etiquette: Tea dos and don’ts
An unwritten tea etiquette (until now). Have you ever wondered what is the correct way to drink tea? Have you ever looked at others and thought ‘they shouldn’t be doing that!’ or even, embarrassingly, others looking disdainfully in your direction whilst you are enjoying tea in a grand hotel. What follows a list of tea dos and don’ts when drinking or serving tea.
- Use a teapot with a ‘cage’ of holes at the internal base of the spout to retain the leaf. You will then not need to use a tea strainer.
- Use fine china or glass – it takes less heat from your tea.
- Use loose leaf tea – it gives a more balanced flavour and there are no soggy teabags to deal with.
- Put milk in first – it saves stirring your tea.
- Try green or oolong tea or even other black teas. There are so many teas with distinctive characters.
- Take a break – watch the world go by and talk to others.
- When serving or topping-up take the cups to the pot not the pot to the cups around the table.
- Make sure the pot is sufficiently large for the number of people to be served.
- Stick your little finger out when drinking from a fine china cup. But then you wouldn’t would you?
- Slurp your tea. Did you forget just now?
- Put sugar in your tea. It really does spoil the flavour. And it’s not good for your teeth is it?
- Dunk biscuits in your tea. Really you aren’t going to admit to that one are you? And in public …
- Drink tea when it’s not tea, unless it’s an herbal infusion with a recognised health benefit. They are an expensive fad.
- Rush. Take your time when drinking tea. Enjoy it, savour it and take a lesson from the Chinese and Japanese culture of tea drinking.
So now you know! Of course you may have many additional rules in your household when drinking tea or, God forbid, none at all! Here are some additional, finer points for those about to drink their tea in especially refined company:
- Stir your tea (if necessary) briefly back and forth, not round and round. You have been told!
- Place only one, or possibly two, items of food on your plate at a time. You are not meant to be suffering from starvation.
- Don’t drink your tea too quickly, You don’t want your hostess having to offer to refill it after she has taken only her first sip.
We invite you to contribute your own observations of enjoying tea. This may include attempts to enjoy tea at an hotel for an ‘afternoon tea experience’. Was it the experience you were bargaining for? Tell us!
Now you’ve read the rules it’s safe to buy some decent tea!