Proper Etiquette For a Tea Party
Just like the royalty and upper class did in the original tea parties, it is important to use proper etiquette when attending a formal tea party. Here are a few tea party etiquette tips to remember:
After sitting down, put your purse on your lap or behind you against the chair back.
Unfold napkin and make sure to place it on your lap. If you must leave the table temporarily, place the napkin on your chair. Never blot or wipe your lipstick with a linen or cloth napkin. Lipstick stains rarely come out in the wash.
Never, ever use your napkin as a handkerchief. Please excuse yourself from the table and go to the ladies' room. The hostess will signal the end of the tea Eva Gonzales - afternoon tea by picking up her napkin. Everyone else will then pick up their napkin by the center and loosely lay to the left of their plate.
Sugar is placed in your teacup first, then thinly sliced lemon. If you like to have milk in your tea, add it after the tea is poured. At one time it was traditional to pour the milk into the cup before the tea. This was done to prevent the glaze on delicate teacups from cracking. We do not have that problem today, so add the milk after the tea so that you can judge how much to use based on the color change. Never use milk and lemon together.
Hold the handle of the teacup using your thumb and your first one or two fingers. There is no need to stick out your pinky; this is an exaggeration of how people sometimes tilt their pinky upwards to balance the cup. Do not loop your fingers through the teacup handle or cradle the side or bottom of the cup with your hands. A guest should look into the teacup when drinking, never over it.
When stirring your tea, be careful not to clink your spoon against the cup. Gently swish the spoon back and forth without touching the sides of the cup. When through stirring, remove the spoon and place it on the saucer behind the teacup and to the right of the handle. Of course, never take a drink of your tea without removing the spoon first, and please never, ever sip from the spoon.
Take small, quiet sips of your tea. Do not blow on the tea if it is too hot.
When you are not drinking tea, place the cup on the saucer. If seated at a Hilda Fearon afternoon tea table, never pick up the saucer. If standing, you may lift the saucer with the cup.
It is fine to eat most of the foods with your fingers, taking small bites; however, use a fork when trying to eat messy foods. Scones are a traditional part of proper tea. Split the scone with a knife. Since the knife is now used, either place it on your knife rest or lay it gently on the side of your plate. Jam or curds is usually placed on the scone and then top off with a dollop of clotted cream. Simply spoon a small amount of jam or curds onto your plate, as well as some of the clotted cream. Spread the jam, curds, and clotted cream onto your scone. Never use the serving spoon for this task.
Be sure to take small bites, since attending a tea is a social occasion and you will want to participate in the conversation without always having a full mouth. Chew and swallow completely before taking a drink of tea, since it is hot and is not meant to wash the food down.