The world famous Afternoon tea is an English tradition that goes back to the days of the Duchess of Bedford, Anna. She gathered her friends in her room for afternoon tea, supposedly to bridge the gap between lunch and dinner. Since aristocrats originally practiced it, participating in an Afternoon Tea means following etiquette guides. Here are several of them.
- The correct way of saying it is, “I will have tea with my friend this afternoon”.
Do not interchange have with take. You don’t take tea; you have tea. Also, do not use high tea or British Tea, or even Afternoon Tea. Simply say tea. “I am having tea with my friends” is the right way to say it. Do not allow anyone to hear you saying you are taking afternoon tea with your friends.
Other terms aside from Afternoon Tea are Cream Tea (where you enjoy a feast of tea and scones with cream), High Tea (which is a hearty meal with tea), and Royal Tea (which is an Afternoon Tea variety that includes a glass of champagne).
- While afternoon teas started out as formal events, today’s dress code is more relaxed.
In the early days of the afternoon tea, the ladies and gentlemen who were invited to the event were required to dress up appropriately. As such, the gentlemen wore their best suits (with tie) while the women showed off their best formal dresses. Nowadays, though, guests can wear their favourite smart casual outfits. However, sneakers, sandals, and sports attire are still prohibited.
- A person is designated to serve the tea to all the guests.
Every afternoon tea party has to have a designated pourer. This person is the one who pours the tea into the cups (not mugs!) of each guest. The pourer takes one cup, fills it with tea, and then passes it to the recipient guest. He or she should use a strainer when pouring the tea, especially when there are loose leaves.
- Each guest adds milk and sugar to their tea.
Milk should be added after the tea has been poured into the cup. Sugar is then added, and the tea is stirred in one circular motion (do not change directions!). Each guest does this to his or her own tea. After adding milk and sugar, the teaspoon is gently placed at the back of the saucer. It should be placed in a lengthwise positioned.