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10 Rules You Need to Know About High Tea

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by Lesley Mitchell (subscribe)
Author/lecturer/Intuitive/Natural Therapist/Artist/Soap-Maker/Chef. WEBS: or Also find us under RenascentBathBody or RenascentCollege on eBay, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram
Published September 30th 2013
Following these Rules, you'll fit right in with high society
We all love high tea. Just the mention of it makes us drool, but it has so many traditions associated with it. If you want to do it properly I will share with you the secrets you need to know about high tea.

*Image Mamor Chocolates High Tea

1. We tend to understand that you have high tea in the afternoon, however it was originally served between 5-7 PM with a larger meals served at a high table. These days, high tea events may be held at any time of the day.

2. The small teapots are for herbal teas and the largest teapot is for the English breakfast tea.

3. Sometimes when you sit down at the table full of cutlery it can be a daunting experience. Just remember to use your cutlery from the outside towards the inside of your place setting.

4. Jam and cream should always be served in matching bowls, preferably crystal, accompanied by small silver serving spoons.

5. How to serve tea? You should always pour the tea first, then add the milk and sugar to taste. Remember you should avoid using both milk and lemon as it may make your milk curdle.

In the olden days, this tradition began to test whether your china was of the finest quality. If you poured boiling hot tea into poor quality china it would crack, thus the addition of the tea first was a way to say that your china was of the best quality.

*Images Petite Pippin High Tea

6. The napkin should be placed on the left hand side of your place setting. It should be folded with the closed edge towards the left and the open edge towards the right. When the diners were finished they would place the napkin on the right hand side to signify the end of their high tea.

7. If no cutlery is provided, it is perfectly acceptable to eat the food with your fingers. This is originally why it was called finger food.

8. It is always important to know how to hold your teacup. In 1710 when the teacup handle was first invented it was a custom to pinch the front and the back of the handle with your three fingers and extending your little finger went to avoid spillage. These days it is more polite to point your little finger down towards the bottom of the cup. It is never considered polite to put your fingers through the handle nor to to cup the bowl like a steaming mug.

*Image Koko Black High Tea

9. To serve your tea you should place your spoon at the 6 o'clock position in your cup and gently move to the 12 o'clock position two to three times in a circular motion. You should never leave your teaspoon in the teacup, place it back on the right hand side of the saucer.

10. As a hostess please ensure all your guests have left before you begin clearing the table. If you begin clearing the table earlier it signifies that you want everyone to leave.

Of course these days we are little more relaxed, people are more accommodating and manners tend to be a little more subjective depending on who you are dining with, but hopefully these 10 rules will teach those that wish to follow the older ways the right way to do things should you wish to follow protocol.

Do you have any more history to share about or correct manners? It is always lovely to hear of your thoughts and ideas also. You may add your suggestions in the comments box at the top of this article.
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Why? We all love high tea, here's the correct way to do it
Your Comment
Your article was really interesting. I always love to hear of how things came to be done a certain way, like your example of pour tea then add milk & sugar.
by Susan Jackson (score: 2|792) 2714 days ago
Another reason for Tea first then Milk is because if the Milk is put in first, the Hot Tea scalds the Milk.
Personally, after the Tea, I like to add sugar, stir to dissolve quickly and whilst liquid stir rotating add Milk. Little fingers sticking out is bad manners nowadays.
by fluffynut (score: 2|952) 1312 days ago
Hi, Thanks for the tips. Will come in use if I am ever invited to high tea!
by Jeni Wilson (score: 3|1866) 2714 days ago
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