Written by a vintage obsessed, lover of cake and gin, and owner of a huge collection of vintage china. Founder of Vintage Tea Party, a London based Vintage china hire company that provides afternoon tea catering for special occasions.
I’ve been asked a lot about afternoon tea etiquette, especially as more people are choosing to celebrate their weddings by serving afternoon tea to their guests. Obviously each setting will be different, however following the basic afternoon tea etiquette guide should place you in a good position.
Typically served at 4pm, afternoon tea originated with the Duchess of Bedford in 1840. Gaining popularity amongst the aristocrats, it has grown into a British institution enjoyed by people from all over the world. There is a code of etiquette to be followed when enjoying this tradition, especially if one wishes to be invited back. Below is an etiquette guide, which can be observed in all the great Tea rooms across the United Kingdom.
No elbows must be on the table and one mustn’t slouch.
Always fold one's napkin crease facing towards you on your lap.
Use a tea strainer for loose tea leaves, offering to pour for others before oneself. Tea first followed by milk. Stirring must be done in a back and forth motion, six to twelve o’clock, rather than a circular motion. This will help to dissolve the sugar cube, reduce noise, splash, prevent whirl pooling sugar cubes and undissolved sugar at the bottom of the tea cup.
To hold the cup, place your thumb and index finger through the handle and rest the cup on your middle finger. No protruding pinkies please!
On low height tables, pick-up both the teacup and saucer. If one is seated at a high table, one need only pick-up the tea cup.
Start with the sandwiches first, these should be eaten with your fingers.
Moving on to the scones. Often miss pronounced, the correct pronunciation is ‘sk-on’.
Using your fingers, break the scone into two. Take a portion of cream and jam and place on the edge of one’s side plate, before loading onto your scone.
There are two options for scone layering; the Devonshire way is to first layer the cream, followed by the jam, and the Cornish way is to first layer the jam, followed by the cream. It matters not which way you choice, however one must never sandwich the two halves together. Scones must always be eaten in two halves.
Hold the pastry or cake folk up-turned in the right hand to eat all pastries and cakes.
Once finished dab one’s mouth with the napkin, do not wipe.
Hopefully you have found this useful. Enjoy your afternoon tea!
If you’re planning to host an afternoon tea for your special event, we offer a mouth-watering menu, which includes, tasty finger sandwiches, dainty buttered scones, scrumptious sweet treats and delicious homemade cakes. All served on our beautiful vintage china. Contact us for further details.