Note: This post is intended for those of you forum members who are concerned that your gun comments could possibly come back to "bite" you in the event that your computer was seized after you are involved in a legitimate Self~Defense shooting.
Feel free to just post your forum "Tea Time Etiquette" comments in this thread ONLY and then just read the gun related threads without posting.:poke:
Although tea started out as a quaint time between friends to talk, sip their tea and nibble on a few savory morsels from the kitchen, it soon became a cultural sensation, and with it came all the customs, rules and expectations of English society. Although times have changed and we live in a society whose customs and rules are far from the standards of the strait-laced Victorians, there is something about taking tea that tends to tame our often impolite, uncivilized nature and draw us back to the days where we treated one another with kindness and consideration.
It is in that spirit that we frequently turn to the rules of society to govern our actions and refresh us in the ways of common courtesy.
Tea time etiquette has changed drastically over the years. Whereas the Edwardian gentleman may have found it was acceptable to pour his hot tea into the saucer to cool it before drinking, it is obviously not acceptable to do so now, in fact, one would be considered quite rude.
Or the keeping of tea under lock and key, only to be taken out by the lady of the house to blend and brew has become completely unnecessary and obsolete. There are many cultural and social differences to be dealt with today, but there are some general rules for tea time etiquette that can be followed by anyone desiring to give a proper tea.
First, send out invitations to your guests. Invitations are to educate your guests as to what to expect and prepare for, not just to tell them the time and place. For example, sometimes Victorian women used to bring their own tea cups wrapped in special boxes.
Perhaps you want them to bring a tea cup or a cake or if it is a garden tea to wear a hat. This information needs to be communicated clearly in the invitation to avoid any embarrassing moments for your guests.
Be sure to have the necessary items for a tea. You will need a tea pot; china is for a more intimate tea and silver tea pots are for a formal tea. Cups and saucers, tea spoons, a sugar bowl and sugar tongs (always serve sugar in cubes not loose), a tea strainer, a lemon dish and fork, and serving utensils. Forks if cake is served. Knives if jam or cream is eaten on scones. Each jam and cream dish must have its own serving spoon.
If it is going to be a large tea, the hostess should not be stuck in the kitchen, but should be mingling and entertaining her guests. The hostess should ask some special friends ahead of time if they would share the responsibility of being the designated "pourer" at the buffet table. If it is a small, informal tea, the hostess can either pour, or if all are seated at the table, she should be sure to see that every one's cup is always full. Once the tea has been poured, if it is a buffet, the guest then helps himself or herself to the refreshments. If the guests are seated, the refreshments should be on the table.
The best way to hold a tea cup is to slip your index finger through the handle, up to almost the first knuckle, then balance and secure the cup by placing your thumb on the top of the handle and allowing the bottom of the handle to rest on your middle finger. Contrary to popular belief, the ring and pinkie fingers should not be extended, but should rest by curving gently back toward your wrist. There are two theories about this. One considers the Chinese custom of drinking tea in small cups with no handles. The hot tea tended to burn the tender, sensitive skin of the pinkie fingers, causing them to hold them away from the hot cup. The other theory dates back to the middle ages when the gentry, or upper classes ate with only three fingers and the commoners ate with all five. To extend one's pinkie was an indication of arrogance, an inflated self-importance and was really rather rude. So despite the fact that children often play "tea party" and drink with their pinkies raised, it really isn't a considerate gesture and should be eliminated.
When stirring your tea, don't make noises by clinking the sides of the cup while stirring.
Gently swish the tea back and forth being careful no to touch the sides of your cup if possible.
Never leave your spoon in the cup and be sure not to sip your tea from the spoon either.
After stirring, place your spoon quietly on the saucer, behind the cup, on the right hand side under the handle.
Let's take a moment to dispel a few minor tea time controversies. Milk is served with tea, not cream. Cream is too heavy and masks the taste of the tea. Although some pour their milk in the cup first, it is probably better to pour the milk in the tea after it is in the cup in order to get the correct amount. When eating scones, you should split the scone with a knife and then spread a dollop of jam first and top it with cream. The jam and cream should be placed on your plate first and then spread on your scone, not applied directly from the dishes on the tea table. Loose tea is preferred over tea bags at an afternoon tea. If you are standing or are seated away from a table, lift the tea cup with the saucer when drinking. If you are seated at a dining table, you may leave the saucer on the table. When your cup of tea is getting low, don't swirl the tea in the cup as it is undignified and you may slosh it right out. Also, be mindful about peeking over at others while you are sipping. Simply lower you eyes and look into your cup to keep from spilling down your front. Remember as well that tea is to be sipped, not slurped and not used to wash down a large bite of food. Swallow your food before you sip your tea. Enjoy the food, being sure to try a little of each course, but avoid talking with your mouth full, as a basic rule of etiquette. That is why it is important to take dainty bites. Once you have used your utensils, it is impolite to put them back on the table, so be sure to rest them on the side of your plate. If tea is served buffet style, never put dirty plates, cups or utensils back on the tea table. That goes for your napkin as well. Never put your napkin back on the table until you are ready to leave. If you must get up before you are finished, place your napkin on your seat and replace it on your lap when you return.
If afternoon tea is fairly new to you, some of tea time social rules can seem overwhelming, discouraging, or even unnecessary.
It may even take a little thought and practice before you feel comfortable.
But in this age when haste, crudeness and discourtesy have become so much the norm for our society, how wonderful it is to be able to take the time to learn to treat one another with the affection, consideration and courtesy that afternoon tea inspires.