Don't Lift Your Pinkie When Drinking Tea
... and other useful etiquette tips for tea parties.
You don't have to be from England, or live somewhere in Europe, to enjoy a "Wee cup of of tea", as my Scotish grandmother used to say. In fact, hosting a tea party instead of a full blown dinner or lunch is a great way to socialize with friends or family without having to do a ton of work and spend a lot of money.
If you will be attending a tea party or hosting one yourself, here are some tips to help you look like Princess Kate and "take tea' with ease and style.
During "full tea", three courses are served such as scones, tea sandwiches, and sweets. "Light tea" will have just scones and sweets. Here are some tea party etiquette tips:
1. Since it is a tea party, it's okay to eat with fingers. However, if an item is particularly messy (has a runny filling), then use a fork.
2. If all the courses are laid out on the table, eat them in this order: first the scones or muffins; then the tiny sandwiches, and last the sweets. Think of it like a meal where you can start with bread, then have the main course, but save the dessert for last.
3. For scones or muffins, break off a bite-size piece, then put a small amount of jam or butter on it. If Devonshire or clotted cream is available, a small amount can be dabbed on after the jam. This thick cream is for scones, not for the tea.
4. Take bites of the tiny sandwiches. Never stuff the whole thing in your mouth, even though it's small.
5. If using sugar, be careful to not dip the sugar tong or sugar spoon into the tea.
6. Stir sugar and/or milk with your teaspoon, and then place the teaspoon on your saucer. Please do not make clinking sounds with your spoons against the cup!
7. If at a table when drinking the tea, only lift the tea cup and not the saucer. If sitting on a couch or some place where a table is not available then hold the cup and saucer near your chest, then take the teacup off the saucer and bring it up to your mouth to drink.
8. If the tea is hot, do not blow on the tea. Leave your teacup on the table to cool.
9. Do NOT stick your pinky out when drinking tea. Just hold the teacup normally with your index finger and thumb with the other fingers closed.
10. Hopefully, the tea will be served from teapots, rather than having individual tea bags, but if there are tea bags, then there should be a small dish at the place setting on which you can place the used tea bag.
11. You should not reach across the table to pick things up. Instead, politely ask someone to pass the item
to you. "Excuse me Cindy, could you please pass the scones?"
12. Always remember to:
- Say "please" and "thank you" and "excuse me."
- Not talk with your mouth full.
- Cover your mouth if you have to sneeze or cough.
- Be careful not to talk too much, let everyone have a chance to join in the conversation.
- Use your napkin. Place it on the chair if you need to leave the table during tea and then folded on the table when tea is over and you are leaving.
- Use utensils from the outside of the plate and work your way in.
- Thank the hostess for inviting you before you leave. It would also be nice to send a thank you note.
If you didn't see the latest edition of Today's Charlotte Woman, I have an article in there about tea party etiquette and hosting parties in general. Click HERE to read the full article for additional informaiton and tips.
Looking for an etiquette class for your kids? I am offering two classes in the near future in the Lake Norman area, but if you'd like one for your group or school please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information on my classes, videos, and other etiquette tips can be found on my website - Finesseworldwide.com.
Impressions: A Modern Cotillion for the New Generation. Fall class now open for rising 5th - 8th graders. Information and registration HERE.