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3 FAQ’s About Tea Etiquette

woman drinking tea with white gloves

There are some important rules when it comes to taking formal tea. Here are some frequently asked questions and the answers that have kept us in good stead with our organic tea fans throughout Europe and, indeed, the world at large.  

Who Pours the Tea?

Whether it’s Earl Grey or organic peppermint tea, the first to pour remains the same. If the waiter or host pours the first round, then that settles that. If the pot is simply placed on the table then it is the person nearest the teapot who will pour for everyone at the table.  

What do I wear to tea?

Dress should be smart at all times. It will not do to wear trainers or any type of sports attire. Flip flops are also taboo. Ladies can wear their favourite skirt or dress, or simply a neat blouse, fashionably fitting trousers and ballet flats.

Gentlemen can don button-down shirts and khakis, or can take it up a notch with a sports jacket or suit. Jeans are suitable as long as they are neat and worn with well chosen shoes. When dressing for tea, consider what would be appropriate for a dinner party, and your choices will proceed in the right direction.

Is there anything I shouldn't do when taking afternoon tea?

Plenty! Don't take bites that are too large; it's undignified and prevents you from participating in conversation when called upon. While eating, indulge from the bottom of the three-tiered tray to the top (savouries, scones, then pastries). The jam should always be placed onto one's plate, not directly onto your scone.

When stirring your afternoon tea, avoid hitting the sides of your cup with your teaspoon. Also, avoid cluttering the table and surrounding area with bags, iPhones and keys. Neatly place everything under your chair after switching your phone to silent.

This tradition is much like a dance; grace is involved, a bit of respectful costume, and all your best manners. With this mindset, you'll make a good impression and keep a treasured British custom elegantly.