Tea Time Etiquette

Even though people around the world love their tea, the practice of "teatime" belongs to the people of Britain.

The phrase "tea time" is typically used to refer to a social gathering. As the name suggests, friends will gather at teatime to relax over a steaming cuppa. The people of England are stereotypically viewed as prominent tea drinkers, and many Britons are expert tea growers and blenders.

Teatime in England is something that not everyone has the good fortune to experience, so remember to mind your manners should you ever be invited. If you are ever fortunate enough to participate in this noble British tradition, be sure to follow proper teatime etiquette.

Teatime traditions have relaxed over the years, but certain points of etiquette do remain. Teatime in England is certainly not the stodgy ceremony that it once was. In the past, for example, the lady of the house would keep her tea safely locked away, and would bring it out only when her teatime guests came to call. Today, of course, British women keep their teas in canisters. Another old British tradition would require a gentleman to pour his tea into the saucer, and sip it only when it was cool enough to do so. Just imagine the reactions of patrons at a modern teahouse if a man rudely drank his tea in this manner!

Despite the disappearance of certain traditions, some proper English teatime etiquette remains. Today's hosts and hostesses do expect a certain level of decorum among their teatime guests. It is still a common practice for the teatime host or hostess to send written invitations to his or her guests. With the teatime details clearly stated, guests know what to expect and no one will feel awkward.

Every proper British teatime celebration requires certain items and accessories. Of course, a teapot is an absolute necessity. Silver teapots are usually chosen for formal affairs, while pretty china teapots are used for intimate gatherings and casual teatime parties. When a British teatime table is set, there are cups and saucers, teaspoons and a sugar bowl. A tea strainer is placed upon the table, along with sugar tongs and a lemon dish with a fork. Guests will be provided with forks if cakes are being served, and knives to use with jam or cream for scones. An individual spoon is placed with each cream and jam bowl. Teatime refreshments are never placed on a separate table, but are only served at the table where guests are seated.

When serving tea, it's important that the hostess spend teatime with her guests, rather than fussing in the kitchen. Teatime etiquette requires the host or hostess to entertain and visit with the guests.

Anyone can enjoy proper British teatime. Invite some friends over, set the table with your prettiest teapot and utensils, and splurge on English scones and cream. Teatime is a wonderful way to enjoy the company of friends while sipping a favorite blend, any time at all.

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About The Author, Emanuel Elley
Columnist Emanuel Elley contributes to several popular web sites, on activity family and fun at home topics.
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