Tea Etiquette Basics
Our fairies and fae have been overwhelmed with the positive response that we have seen from our sharing of tea etiquette basics. So, we shall continue this series by sharing essential etiquette that you must know before attending any type of tea party.
It is important for us to note that these rules of etiquette are meant to come into play when you are around others (ie. a fairy court or with a princess and her guests from other fairytale kingdoms). When you are alone, sipping tea at home, you may elect to follow a different set of rules - or none at all - which is just fine. Etiquette is all about being polite, and respecting others! For example, tea is stirred in a particular back to front motion to avoid any spilling over the sides, and to avoid any distracting clinking noises.
Here at Fairy Tale Teas, it is our duty to ensure that our friends and fae are well prepared for any enchanted tea party they attend.
Preparing for the Tea
When setting up a tea table - regardless of the type of tea party - small dessert plates are set at each seat, along with a knife, napkin, and teacup with it’s saucer. On a side table, or tea cart there should be a sugar bowl, cream cup, a tea pot of hot water (in case anyone desires to water-down their tea), and in some cases lemon (slices are preferred over wedges for tea).
Dressing appropriately for tea parties is also incredibly important, but as dress codes differ slightly for each type of party we will delve into this in later posts.
Once seated, your napkin should be folded in half and placed directly onto your lap.
When your napkin is needed, dab at the corners of your mouth rather than wipe.
If you are hosting the tea party you may either decide to serve one type of tea or you may want to give your guests a variety to choose from. Either way please make sure that you have enough tea for everyone; a single teaspoon of tea leaves per person is the usual allowance.
Choose your best tea pot. There are so many gorgeous porcelain teapots to choose from, but keep in mind that this is not for boiling your water- that is what kettles, metal, and borosilicate glass teapots are for. Add your tea to your porcelain teapot and then pour your heated water over top, there should be 1 cup of water per person. Cover the teapot and then allow the tea to steep for the recommended amount of time - any longer and the tannins will be drawn out of the tea leaves, giving it an acrid and bitter taste. Serve the tea immediately after steeping.
Alternative - You are also welcome to provide each guest with a tea bag to steep in there individual teacups, but you must make sure that they are all aware of the time each tea needs to be steeped for.
It is the job of the hostess to prepare and dispense the tea, except when the party is very large. If the party is on the bigger side (6+ guests) then close friends should volunteer to help the hostess serve.
Drinking the Tea
The hostess should inquire about how much sugar each guest would like before pouring their tea.
If lemon slices are available they can be added after the tea has been poured. Cream/milk can be added to the tea if desired, unless lemon has already been added (the resulting curdled cream in a teacup is an incredibly unpleasant experience).
Be sure to look directly into your cup when sipping your tea, rather than peeking over it to look at others or gazing around the room.
Also, do not slurp or gulp down your tea.
When Using Teabags
When your tea has finished steeping, do not squeeze your teabag. This will release tannins into your tea, resulting in an unpleasant taste.
Instead, simply let the teabag rest on your saucer.
Handling the Teacup
The proper way to hold your teacup is as follows:
Pinch your index finger and your thumb together through the handle of your teacup. Then balance and secure the teacup by allowing the bottom of the handle to rest on your middle finger. No pinkies should be extended while holding your cup.
When stirring sugar or cream into your tea, remember to stir in a straight line as though you were dragging your spoon from 12 to 6 on a clock, or from North to South. Do not allow the spoon to clink noisily against the sides of the cup a you stir your tea. When you’re done stirring, place your spoon flat on your saucer.
Additional Do’s and Don’ts to know
- Don’t pour tea into your saucer.
- Don't sip your tea from the spoon.
- Try not to slurp or gulp your tea, or use it to wash down a particularly large bite of food.
Tell us friends and fae, had you heard of any of these rules of etiquette before reading this? Is there anything that you feel we should have added?