Tea Time Etiquette Tips
For A Perfect Afternoon Tea Party

Impress your friend by knowing a thing or two about tea time etiquette! Believe me, it is easy...

An afternoon tea is a great way to socialize with friends while enjoying a delicious cup of your favorite beverage. However, it is also an occasion where you are generally expected to mind your manners.

For this reason, many people are intimidated by the thought of attending a tea party - it would be too easy to make a social faux pas without even realizing it!

It is not that people want to be rude; it is just that they have never been taught proper tea time etiquette.

Thankfully, you don't have to forgo the pleasures of an afternoon tea for fear of looking like a slob. Most tea time etiquette is really just common sense - just become familiar with the rules below, and you’ll be fine!

Are you ready?

Host/Hostess Etiquette

If you are hosting a tea party, you should send out invitations to your guests specifying the date, time, and any other necessary information.

In Victorian England, people would often bring their own tea cups to formal teas. If you want your guests to continue this tradition, make sure it says so on the invitation. Also, invitations should be sent out in the mail, not via email!

The hostess and a couple of close friends should share the job of pouring the tea. Tea parties are social occasions, and everyone attending should get a chance to socialize.

When pouring tea, make sure to ask guests whether they need room in the glass for milk. Also, add the appropriate amount of sugar, asking "One lump, or two?"

Sugar should be served using tongs, never fingers.

Food items are usually placed on a 3-tier serving tray and arranged accordingly: scones on the top, sandwiches and savories in the middle, and sweets on the bottom.

Drinking, Pouring and Stirring

When drinking tea, sip it slowly instead of gulping.

Make sure to hold your teacup properly - pinch the handle between your thumb and index finger, raising your pinkie finger for balance. Don't try to loop your fingers through the handle-that's considered impolite.

Unless you are seated at a formal dining table, make sure to lift your saucer along with the cup.

To stir your tea, start by placing your spoon at the 6 o'clock position. Then, add the milk and gently fold it in by moving the spoon toward the 12 o'clock position.

Don't use circular motions to stir, and don't stir your tea too vigorously. When you are finished stirring your tea, place the spoon on the right side of the saucer.


To eat a scone: break off a small bite-sized portion and use your knife to cover it with jam first, then cream.

Remember, it’s considered rude and unsanitary to serve yourself jam and cream with a used utensil.

Always take enough jam and cream for the whole scone the first time.

Place the jam and cream on your plate, then proceed as directed above.

Used utensils are always placed on the right side of the plate, never on the table.


Your napkin goes on your lap when you eat. If you have to leave your seat during the meal, opinions differ on where to place it-some say on the chair, some say on the table to the left side of your plate.

Since napkins sometimes become dirty and tablecloths are much easier to clean than chairs, it makes sense to place the napkin on the table so that you don't run the risk of staining the upholstery.

When you are finished eating, fold the napkin and place it on the left side of your plate.

So, here it is. The ABC of tea time etiquette. It is easy, isn't it?

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