English tea

The proper British tea etiquette

The afternoon British tea is a tradition that requires certain etiquette. This is probably why the TikTok video of an American caused such controversy among Brits. Take a look at the video below for proper English tea etiquette.

  • The custom of drinking tea goes back to the third millenium BC in China but was made popular in England in the 60s.
  • It was in the 80's that it became a fashionable social event for upper class women.

Alena Kate Pettitt, founder of The Darling Academy, clarifies how an afternoon tea should be served. She is also the author of Ladies Like Us - a rise to grace, and English Etiquette - the motivation behind the manners.

The afternoon tea is usually a ight meal between 3:30 and 5pm originated among the wealthy social classes in England. It was introduced by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford. Story tells the Duchess would get hungry around 4pm, and since dinner was served at 8pm that meant there was a long period of time between the two.

A typical afternoon British tea normally incudes scons with cream and jam, sandwiches -with no crust, a Victoria sponge cake and other pastries. When had at a restaurant or hotel the sandwiches will be cut rectangurlary and if had a home most likely squared. Scons should never be cut with a knife but with your hands. And the the debate of what goes on the scon first: cream or jam depend on the region of England.

English scons with cream and strawberry jam. Source: Alena Kate Pettitt Instagram

As to the tea, it shouldn't be teabags but tea leaves. And never stir your tea circurlary but from side to side respecting the 12-6 clock hands direction, to make sure you disolve any sugar that might be left in the cup. For a more visual idea of what a British tea table looks like check out British etiquette expert William Hanson's video.

Victoria sponge cake. Source: Alena Kate Pettitt Instagram page

Estefanía Martínez

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