Its Teatime, Mind Your Manners

People all over the world love their tea, but no one enjoys proper teatime more than the British.

Teatime is more than a refreshing break; it's actually a social gathering. Friends and associates gather at teatime to relax for a tasty cuppa and some good company. Stereotypically, residents of England are viewed predominantly as tea drinkers. Many Britons are also expert tea growers and blenders.

If you are ever fortunate enough to attend teatime in England, it's important to mind your manners. There is a certain set of rules to be followed, known as teatime etiquette.

As with every culture, the social rules and traditions have become lax over the years. English teatime etiquette is certainly not the staid ceremony that it used to be. In the early days, gentlemen were expected to pour their hot tea into the saucer, allowing it to become cool enough to drink. This tradition has long since disappeared, and anyone drinking tea in this manner would certainly raise some eyebrows in today's tearooms. Those following modern teatime etiquette would surely view this as rude and boorish behavior. Another archaic tradition saw the lady of the house keeping her tea under lock and key, and bringing it out only at teatime. This act is of course long past, and modern British hostesses keep their teas in a countertop canister.

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
Writer Emanuel Elley writes for a variety of popular web magazines, on family video and home activities themes.