21 Etiquette Rules to take Afternoon Tea like a Royal

21 Etiquette Rules to take Afternoon Tea like a Royal

To celebrate the launch of eteaket’s Limited Edition blend ‘Royal Bliss’ for the Royal Wedding coming up on 19 May, we’re sharing our 21 rules for taking Afternoon Tea like a Royal. 50% of the profits of this new blend will go to CHIVA (Children’s HIV Association), which is one of Harry & Meghan’s chosen charities.

“There should be a law that everyone should share Afternoon Tea together once a month to properly connect and experience joy during those under-appreciated hours between lunch and dinner. The mental and social benefits would be huge.”


How did Afternoon Tea Start?

There can be a long time between lunch and dinner where we can have a tendency to slump and get rather peckish. Thankfully, the Seventh Duchess of Bedford created a solution way back in the 1840s. She started devouring a tray of bread & butter, cake and of course tea in her room every afternoon. She felt rather lonely though so invited some pals over to join her and the joy that is Afternoon Tea was born. This afternoon retreat was soon ‘the’ event to be seen at and has gone from strength to strength ever since.

Fast forward to today and Afternoon Tea is still a much loved pastime, whether it’s in a 5 star hotel, a gorgeous restaurant, your local tea room or café or even your local garden centre.

21 Rules to guide you through your Afternoon Tea experience

With such a wide range of places now serving Afternoon Tea you could be forgiven for being a little confused by it all. With the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle taking place shortly on 19 May 2018 what better way to celebrate than to treat yourself and some friends to a proper Afternoon Tea.

We’ve put together 21 Etiquette Rules on How to Take Afternoon Tea like a Royal so you don’t get yourself in a pickle.

The Tea

1. Choose a venue that serves proper whole leaf tea. It’s hard to fit proper tea in a normal tiny tea bag so either choose whole leaf pyramid tea bags or loose leaf tea. Be sure to remove the leaves after brewing to avoid your tea overbrewing. Yuck!

2. You can add milk to black teas but please don’t add milk to green, white, oolong, herbal or fruit teas/infusions. It’s not pretty.

3. Do you put milk in first or second? In the old days we had to put milk in first to stop the very delicate china from cracking. Nowadays though, as we’ve got proper china, you should always put milk in last so you can tell how strong it is.

Drinking your Tea

4. If using sugar, be careful to not dip the sugar tong/spoon into your tea or your fellow diners won’t be happy. Use your own teaspoon to stir your tea and then replace it gently on your saucer.

5. Avoid slurping your tea and other loud noises. Slurping has been scientifically proven to agitate other diners and you may end up with some tea poured over your head.

6. Do ask for alternative milk if you have a preference. You should at least be able to choose soy as an alternative.

7. When it comes to enjoying your properly brewed tea, it’s best to hold your cup and saucer near your chest. Raise your teacup to your mouth to drink and if you spill any the saucer is there to save your blushes.

8. If the tea is too hot to drink, just leave it to cool. Do not blow on the tea.

9. Contrary to popular belief, it’s best NOT to stick your pinky out when drinking tea. Just hold your teacup normally.

The Cakestand

10. Your whole Afternoon Tea should be displayed on a tiered cake stand and should be eaten in this order: sandwiches, then the scone with cream & jam and finally the cakes.

11. A huge part of the joy of Afternoon Tea is that you get to eat with your fingers. If you get a particularly gooey cake then feel free to use a cake fork of course.

12. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for a doggy bag if you can’t finish everything (sometimes known as a tidbit bag).

13. Sandwiches should be eaten in bite sized pieces allowing for polite conversation. Under no circumstances should the whole sandwich be consumed in one go.

The Scones

14. Unless you’re Mrs Bucket from the British sitcom Keeping up Appearances (if you’re too young or not British please check it out on YouTube) please don’t pronounce the long ‘o’ in ‘scone.’ It is properly pronounced ‘scon.’

15. Scones in themselves can be a minefield. Best practice is to break off a small piece, then spread with clotted cream and jam before eating.

16. Cream or jam first? If you’re using Cornish clotted cream, then you’re supposed to spread the jam on first and top it with lashing of clotted cream. Whereas, if you’re using Devonshire clotted cream, it’s more acceptable to layer the cream on first.

17. It’s acceptable to ask for more clotted cream but never put it in your tea.


18. Take your time, there are no prizes for finishing first and the point of afternoon tea is to slow down and connect with your companions.

19. Technically, you should avoid dunking food in your tea (but it’s hard to stop yourself if it’s a great biscuit).

20. Don’t plan a big dinner afterwards. You should be so full that beans on toast should suffice.

21. There’s no need to dress up these days (although avoid tracksuits and football colours in big hotels). Do not dress up as a Victorian lady in a hat.

Book Afternoon Tea and try our bespoke blend Royal Bliss

The Royal Wedding takes place on a Saturday so unfortunately we don’t all get the day off. It is the perfect day for Afternoon Tea though. If you’re in Edinburgh then and want to experience eteaket’s Afternoon Tea please ring our Tea Room on 0131 226 2982 to book a table. We’ll be serving our special limited blend Royal Bliss (a perfect pairing of black tea, chocolate pieces, red sweet hearts and pink rose petals). We’re also licensed so you can try our tea cocktails to get your afternoon off to a bang.

If you’d like to get your hands on our limited edition Royal Bliss blend, you can snap it up online <<here>> or pop in to our Concept Store (111 Rose St, Edinburgh). It’s £7.95 for 100g which is enough for 40 pots of joy and 50% of the profits will go to CHIVA (Children’s HIV Association), which is one of Harry & Meghan’s chosen charities.

Hopefully now you’re fully prepared to enjoy Afternoon Tea in style whether on 19 May or just whenever you need a little treat. Please share your Afternoon Tea moments and tips with us @eteaket  #eteaketmoment on Social Media.

Erica x

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