They say that the traditional time for Afternoon Tea is Four o’clock, because it is between lunch and dinner, however any time between two and four o’clock is fine.
Here is a guide to show you how to have a traditional English Afternoon Tea:
When setting up your tea tray, it should consist of:
Tea Strainer (optional)
Sugar bowl (with Sugar tongs – to serve the sugar cubes)
A small saucer (For lemon slice on the side) Or you may want to put some Classic Cream Scones on the side.
Guests cups and saucers
You don’t have to have a flash silver setting, if you are having a less formal setting, and you don’t have to go out to the department stores and buy the most expensive thing!!! It is nice to have either “Old Country Roses” Royal Albert collection or “Miranda Kerr for Royal Albert Friendship Tea for Two“, if its just with your best friend! It is so pretty because it has peonies printed on the teapot and teacup, and you can also get the mug too! This fine bone china is microwave safe and the banding is 22 carat gold plus there’s FREE shipping!
I especially like the Polka Rose Formal Vintage Teacup and Saucer as it is very pretty.
Etiquette & Manners
When hosting a proper afternoon tea, invitations are a must! So that the guests know what to wear, or what to bring. I recently just learned that afternoon tea is not the same thing as a “High Tea” – High Tea is actually what the servants had in grand estates at 6pm after they had given upstairs their afternoon tea.
Being well-mannered is a lovely thing to have. Learning how to conduct yourself at the dining table is essential, and is something that you learn over time. It is not something you learn over night (although if you are a quick learner, it can be easy to learn). It is important to practice graceful and splendid manners! and I have talked about etiquette in a few posts such as “How to be a Lady“, and “Easy Etiquette“.
Extra Tea Equipment
A gorgeous pretty table cloth would be essential to match with the china, if possible along with cloth or linen napkins.
If you choose to have scones, knives can be needed to cut the scones in half (but the proper british way is you merely break the scone in half with your fingers, I have hear using a knife isn’t really the proper way but people do still use them occassionally) and you can add a small bowl with strawberry jam for the scones. Or clotted cream – YUM!!! and don’t forget some forks if you are having CAKE!
The Tea Party
When everyone is seated at the table, take the napkin and unfold it on your lap with the crease folded towards you. The hostess pours the tea and always ensures that each guests teacup is full. Then you offer the milk, sugar or lemon.
When pouring your guests tea, make sure you don’t pour multiple cups at the same time and pass several cups at a time. The pourer should hold the teacup and saucer in their left hand and can ask their guests if they like their tea strong or weak, and then ask if they want sugar or milk with it.
Once the tea is poured, wherever you are, at home, someones house, make sure that you don’t make a loud noise when stirring. Make sure you stir gently. Don’t stir in a circle (to avoid clanging), so move the teaspoon in a small arch back and forth, so not to make a noise.
Once finished stirring, do NOT put the teaspoon on the table, make sure you put the teaspoon on the saucer on the right hand side behind the china cup. That is the proper etiquette – whatever the culture is.
Number One Rule
Don’t lift your pinky (People think this is the proper way of etiquette but it is actually NOT). In social settings it is actually considered rude and in British Etiquette especially it is best to curl your pinky finger in. The correct way is to make sure your thumb and index finger meet in the handle.
and when you have finished your cake, make sure you dab your mouth with a napkin (not wipe!)
Tea Sandwiches must have their crusts cut off and can be presented either in a rectangular or triangular way. I also just learnt that the Royal Household prefers to have them cut in small squares, and (That’s the way I like it! hehe) They can also be eaten with your hands, not cutlery.
And then you can have your scones……
Spoon a dollop of cream, or your jam onto the edges of your plate.
Spread just enough of a bit of jam and cream onto the scone with your butter knife, and enjoy! It is nice to take a sip of tea between each bite.
You can learn how to use the Basics of learning to eating a scone properly here.
If you are unsure on what sort of tea to buy, have a look at some loose leaf tea and tea bags on the T2 website. The gift cubes are only $14! If you haven’t read my previous post, I have recommended my new favourite tea!!! It is called “London Strand Earl Grey” – I have been drinking it every day!!! It has bergamot and a hint of citrus, but tastes positively heavenly.
There is a fantastic article on Vogue teaching you the Do’s and Don’ts of drinking tea.
and theres another one on Afternoon Tea Etiquette – Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts written by Afternoontea.co.uk
and I absolutely ADORE Huffington Post’s article on “British Tea Etiquette: How to Drink it Downton Abbey Style”