11 Jul 2010


Known for our love of tea, I thought I'd post the correct etiquette just in case you ever decide to pop around to Pen and Paper for a cuupa.
  • Place your fingers to the front and back of the handle with the pinkie (little) finger tilted slightly up for the balance.
  • It is considered rude to loop the fingers through the handle or to hold the body of the cup with the palm of the hand.
  • Tea should always be sipped.
  • It is also considered rude to stir your tea in wide circular motions.
  • To stir, hold the teaspoon at the six o'clock position to begin. Any liquid is folded lightly towards the 12 o'clock position two or three times.
  • The teaspoon should never be left in the teacup.
  • When not in use, the teaspoon is placed on the right side of the tea saucer.
  • When not in use, the teacup is placed back on the saucer rather then held.
  • If having milk in your tea, pouring either the tea or the milk into the cup first constitutes good manners.
  • Cream is generally avoided as it can mask the taste of the tea.
  • When having lemon with tea, delicate lemon slices are generally offered. A small fork is usually provided for adding lemon.
  • Don't combine lemon with milk in tea, as the lemon juice will cause the milk to curdle.
  • Any sandwiches or treats should be eaten in delicate bites. Remember to smile and chat between bite.
Have you got all of that? No? Not to worry you can always have a mug of coffee instead. But if you do prefer tea, remember that here in the PW household:-
  • Unless you are here for an evening meal or specifically ask for a teacup, you will generally be served tea in a mug. If it is served in a teacup during the day without your having asked, it is because we haven't bothered to wash up and there are no clean mugs.
  • Likewise, a saucer is not generally provided so there is no need to worry about the placing of the cup or teaspoon.
  • I tend to keep hold of my mug but coasters/mats are provided on surfaces if you wish to put your mug down. Putting it down on wooden surfaces will be silently frowned upon but not as much as putting it down on my Turkish rug which is very expensive to clean.
  • I drink my tea black but always pour in the milk after the tea for every one who prefers it with milk. If I'm out to impress, a milk jug will be used so that you can add tea to milk/milk to tea as you wish. If not, your tea will be served with milk added as an after thought.
  • Lemon is not usually provided. However a fruity herbal infusion may usually be found at the back of a cupboard if you prefer that to TETLEY'S TEA which is Husband dearests preferred brand (I drink my tea so weak, I can't actually tell brands apart).
  • As for smiling and chatting in between bites of sandwiches/treats, with me in the room you might find it difficult to get a 'word in edge ways' anyway so simply smiling may have to suffice.


Boonsong said...

The PW household has it right. I just slurp it down and enjoy it.

Have a nice day, Boonnsong

chitra said...

If wishes had wings I would like to visit you and enjoy your tea and learn some etiquette too.

GMR said...

LOL! Love the post. Admittedly when reading the first half I was miming the instructions fairly well, good to know though that if I ever did make it across the pond for a visit, your own "house rules" are not quite as prim and proper (more friendly and familiar). Thanks for the instructional break....happy reading! ^_^

Nina said...

Ooh, I need to write this down or just print it out. Got to keep that all the 'rules' in mind when I drink tea. :P

susan s. said...

As I read all about where to put the spoon after stirring and which hour to start the stirring, etc. all I could think of was that I am left handed and so uni-dexterous as to be unable to do more than lift the cream-pot with my right hand. I am a prisoner to my left hand, so the rules would be broken constantly. According to George Orwell, I am in the lowest social order imaginable, because I *love* Typhoo tea!

Bonnie said...

I'm ready for tea! I promise not to slurp!


Oddyoddyo13 said...

Yikes. I don't really drink tea the "respectable" way then...oops. I don't even add milk-just honey. *sigh*

I'll try to get it right next time. :)

quid said...

Lovely post. I'll get my tea etiquette down pat before I meet my girlfriend a Kaleisia, our newest tea spot in Tampa, next weekend.

Just in time!


Jenners said...

Oh dear ... I think I would fail miserably. I'll just have a glass of water if that is OK.

Martha said...

Tea is truly one of the joys of the human experience.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I love tea and being from Minnesota I have to tell you I fail at the etiquette big time. I drink my tea out of a coffee cup for one. I do loop my fingers... I am usually alone when enjoying my tea so smiling and chatting between bites of food may seem odd.... (even for me).

Great post! :D

Alison said...

Cool post! I love going out for tea when I'm in England. My favorite place was called Granchester (sp?) just outside of Cambridge. Quiet and quaint.

Marinela said...

Beautiful post as always. I love tea :)

Anonymous said...

Whew. Your rules are way more relaxing. :)

Dorte H said...

If I were anywhere near I would come and have a cuppa immediately! (Even though I prefer black coffee).

Wonderful post. Whenever I have etiquette questions for my cosy mystery, I´ll remember to ask Her Petty Highness :D

Anonymous said...

Ditto what Chitra said :D
Great post!

Marie said...

LOL this is a great post. I drink my tea in mugs all the time although i do like it with milk and sugar. When I lived in Ireland for a few months, I discovered how much of an everyday thing tea is- not like in the US where coffee is the everyday thing and tea is sort of special and rarified. Now I drink tea every day too!

Kelly said...

I have my own little tea rituals when I partake each afternoon, most of which break these rules, I'm sure.

You'll just have to refresh my memory when I come to visit.

Alexia561 said...

Love your house rules! I have several mugs of tea at work every day, as I don't like coffee and they keep the temperature at icebox levels! Great post! :D

purplume said...

I too, like my tea weak. And I like my coffee strong.
I love the stirring instruction.

Sanand said...

Very interesting post indeed. Never took tea etiquette as something worth reading till I read this post. It's really informative without being condescending to those who don't apply the rules. I liked it. Wish to read more such posts from you, again.

Lady in the Lake said...

Has anyone ever heard of the practice of turning one's cup sideways on the saucer in a restaurant to signal that you would like tea instead of coffee? How exactly is this done?