You all know by now that I am an avid tea-drinker. And, it is quite un-common in this area; since most people still take their tea only when they are sick with cold, flu or have a stomach acke.
Tea was generally consumed within a lady’s closet or bedchamber and for a mainly female gathering. The tea itself and the delicate pieces of porcelain for brewing and drinking it were displayed in the closet, and inventories for wealthy households during the 17th and 18th centuries list tea equipage not in kitchens or dining rooms but in these small private closets or boudoirs.
(Taken from “A Social History of Tea” by Jane Pettigrew)
These days, most of us have our tea on-a-go; if we are taking it at all. As I've already mentioned, over here, folks prefer their coffee, and tea comes far behind. Even then, when forced to drink it, many opt for a "herbal infusion"; most favorite of all being: mint "tea" (we are, naturally, all aware that mint is not tea) :)
Now, when it comes to taking tea (and all that follows); I have found an amazing tale: the Tale of the Raised Pinkie.
Since ancient Rome, a cultured person ate with 3 fingers, a commoner with five. Thus, the birth of the raised pinkie as a sign of elitism emerged in etiquette rules. This 3 fingers etiquette rule is still correct when picking up food with the fingers and handling various pieces of flatware. This pinky “up” descended from a misinterpretation of the 3 fingers vs 5 fingers dining etiquette in the 11th century.
When we discuss this topic, it is unavoidable to start thinking about another favorite subject of mine: the proper way of doing things. It is quite clear by now, that there is to be no gulping of tea, and no slurping of it eather.
Also, dare I mention the dreadful "cup-hugger" - the one who is most familiar with his/hers mug, and has the habbit if holding it with both hands, in a firm grip. I do not have anything against hugging your mug, and it is comforting.. while you're drinking your cocoa on a cold winter evening. But, when we are presented with tea, served in a porcelain tea cup, no "hugging", please.
And, let me paste another little etiquette-gem in here, will you?
Napkin placement — unfold napkin on your lap, if you must leave temporarily place napkin on chair.
Sugar/lemon — sugar is placed in cup first, then thinly sliced lemon and never milk and lemon together. Milk goes in after tea — there is much debate over it, but according to Washington School of Protocol, milk goes in last. The habit of putting milk in tea came from the French. “To put milk in your tea before sugar is to cross the path of love, perhaps never to marry.” (Tea superstition)
The correct order when eating on a tea tray is to eat savories first, scones next and sweets last.
Scones — split them horizontally with a knife, your curd and cream is placed on plate. Use the knife to put cream/curd on each bite and eat with your fingers neatly.
Proper placement of a spoon — the spoon always goes behind cup, also don’t leave the spoon in the cup.
Proper holding of your cup — do not put your pinky “up”, this is not correct. A guest should look into the teacup when drinking — never over it.
There is just one way of ending today's post: KEEP CALM; AND TAKE SOME TEA.