The do’s and don’ts of Afternoon tea etiquette- just to brush up!
1. Don’t call it high tea.
It’s “Afternoon tea,” or as the Queen simply calls it “tea.” Afternoon tea is served traditionally between 3 and 5 p.m. with tea, crustless sandwiches, scones, and desserts. High tea is more like an early dinner, served around 5 p.m. and would likely have a meat dish component.
2. The saucer stays on the table.
You only hold your saucer and tea cup together if you are standing or sitting with no table in front of you, like in a reception or buffet.
3. Don’t wrap your hands around the cup.
A cup of tea isn’t a cup of coffee! A coffee mug allows you to loop your thumb and put your index on the top of the handle. With tea, you should pinch your index and thumb between the loop of the handle and then put your middle finger along the bottom of the handle to support it.
4. Mind where the handle points.
The handle of the tea cup stays at 3 o’clock, unless you are left-handed and then you turn it to 9 o’clock.
5. How do I stir my tea?
Never create a whirlpool when stirring your tea (either clockwise or counter clockwise). Instead, stir your tea from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock gently.
6. Eat your food in the proper order.
The correct order to enjoy the food that accompanies afternoon tea is savoury to sweet: sandwiches first, then scones, and sweets last. You can use your fingers to eat all three courses. To eat a scone, you simply break it in half with your fingers. Do not use a knife.
7. Cream or jam on top?
An integral part of the Afternoon Tea is a freshly baked, warm scone with clotted cream, butter and preserve. But the order is very much dependent on tradition! The Devonshire people put the clotted cream on first, followed by the strawberry preserve or lemon curd provided. The Cornish vice versa. I’m in the latter camp! Which one are you?
8. Forks for cake
Always use a fork to enjoy a slice of cake- not a spoon!
9. Which type of tea should I drink?
Loose leaf tea not only enhances the flavour, but also the experience of the Afternoon Tea. Choose a tea you love from our bespoke blends at the Gibraltar Tea Company, or try our Tea Room Classic blend. Steep between 3-5 minutes and always use a tea strainer.
10. Pinkies in or out?
Never out-this is a myth. Keep those fingers well and truly tucked in please.
11 – Is it acceptable to dunk biscuits into my tea?
Errrrr..no. A definite no. Then again, what you do in your own home is your own business!