31 Etiquette Tips to Follow at Your Next Tea Party


As summertime approaches, so does the perfect time for an afternoon tea party! Here are 31 DO’S and DON’TS to pay attention to when hosting or attending your next tea.

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Drinking tea properly…

1. DO pour water on top of tea.

2. DO take small sips and DON’T slurp.

3. DO add milk after the tea has been poured.

4. DO use a back and forth or up and down motion to stir tea and DON’T stir in a circular motion or clink the sides of the cup.

5. DO put your tea cup down between sips.

6. DO use the correct temperature of water to steep tea.

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7. DO use one tea bag or one teaspoon of tea per cup. If you are using a two-cup teapot use two tea bags or two teaspoons of tea.

8. DO use fresh water in your kettle as re-boiling water that has already been boiled will affect the flavour.

9. DO keep your tea and herbal tea in a sealed container out of sunlight to preserve its flavour.

10. DO remove the tea bag or tea leaves after steeping time is up.

11. DO use a spoon to remove the tea bag and never squeeze the tea bag on the side of your cup as this could release some bitter tannins.

12. Do enjoy finger foods, such as scones, cookies and finger sandwiches when hosting a tea.

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13. DO use milk and not cream in your tea.

14. DO hold the handle of your teacup without putting your pinky in the air.

15. DO allow your tea to cool down a little before your first sip but never cool by blowing on it.

16. DO enjoy tea all day long, sipping on teas such as black and green throughout the day and herbal and decaffeinated in the evening.

17. DO provide additions, such as milk, honey and lemon when serving tea to guests.

18. DO consider what food you are serving when pairing your tea. Tea can be used to compliment the flavours of your food.

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19. DO hold your saucer if you are standing. However if you are sitting during tea time you should leave the saucer on the table and only lift the cup.

20. DO offer caffeine-free alternatives to your guests. There are an array of herbal teas that taste great and don’t have caffeine.

21. DO consider the timing of your tea. Traditional tea time is four o’clock but you can hold it anytime between two and five.

22. DO know the terminology. When at tea it is correct to say “have” and not “take”, for example you would say “I am having tea with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.”

23. DO ask for tea in the correct way. When having a cup of tea you are having “some” tea and not “a” tea. The little things matter when having tea.

24. DO have a designated pourer at tea. This person is typically the host but if you are out at a restaurant for tea you can nominate someone, or yourself.

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25. DO pour one cup at a time. When hosting a tea it is customary to pour one cup at a time and hand it to your guest, rather than pouring many and then handing them out.

26. DO let your guests put milk and sugar in their tea. As the host, or designed tea pourer you do not need to do this. It also makes it easier.

27. DO offer a variety of tea at your celebrations. Choose from a selection of black, green, oolong, white, or herbal tea.

28. DO some research to ensure you are setting the table correctly.

29. DO remove the spoon and place it in the saucer behind the up after stirring a cup of tea. DON’T leave the spoon upright in the cup.

30. DO consider using a tiered stand to offer food at your tea party. The top tier is used for scones, middle is for sandwiches, and bottom for sweets, pastries, and desserts.

31. DO pay special attention to your table décor. Florals, lace, and appliques are perfect for tea parties.

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While these etiquette “rules” are meant to be followed, the important thing to remember when it comes to drinking tea is how you like it. Each country and family has different traditions, so take these tips as guidelines. After all, tea is meant to be enjoyed.

Happy sipping!

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