Afternoon tea in London library
London Afternoon tea etiquette and how to master it.

Typical London view with afternoon tea in the library

Grande London view with relaxing afternoon tea, in the Library of the old town hall.

London view with afternoon tea in the library
One of the most relaxing things ever…sit back on the comfortable chairs and soak it all in.

The Etiquette
# place semi-folded, white starched, linen napkin on ones lap.
# only dainty, miniature food is served. Tiny crustless sandwiches, canapés, and petit fours. Scones with cream or buttered crumpets. Anchovy toast and perhaps a slice of cake.
# offer to pour tea, or pass sandwich plates around to anyone less advantageously positioned. The aim is to show your superior manners, by making everyone feel comfortable.
# good tea is essential, loose leaves are best and don’t forget the strainer.
# do not use a knife to cut the scones. Use fingertips to break open. Jam goes on first, cream on top. Slather generously, but make sure you leave enough for other people.
# do use a knife to butter the crumpets. If the butter is on a shared dish, plop a nice even chunk on your plate and use from there, rather than buttering directly from shared dish. Same with cream & jam. Do not lick knife or spoon – such a waste, I know…
# do not use a knife to cut the crustless sandwiches. It’s finger food for heavens sake, take small dainty bites and chew with supreme elegance.
# use napkin to dab lips, before taking dainty sips of tea. Dainty & quiet! Dab with napkin. Do NOT wipe!
# if you are on a low table, pick up saucer & tea cup. On a high table only pick up tea cup and leave the saucer well alone. And do not, I repeat do NOT, have your little finger sticking out, when holding the cup.
# milk or tea first? No one cares except the folk at Downton abbey. So don’t worry about it. If you use sugar, use the spoon diagonally to break the sugar cube, do not stir, as that doesn’t do anything.
# keep conversation light, no politics, religion or animal activism towards ones fur wearing friends. (Poor deluded souls…)
# dress is ‘smart casual’, but what the hell, wear a cocktail hat if you must. (Real life fashion post coming up for those kind souls who support our wildlife and subscribe on the ‘protected’ posts.
# do not fold the napkin when you finish. Just leave it loosely scrunched up on the table.
# do not steal the pretty silverware, as a souvenir. Tempting but that’s really bad etiquette. Check here to get your own beautuful vintage tea accesories
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Good teas are like wine and suit different moods and occasions. It's nice to have a selection to choose from.

Good teas are like wine and suit different moods and occasions. It’s nice to have a selection to choose from.

© Ladysarahinlondon

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7 thoughts on “Things to do on a rainy day: master London Afternoon Tea Etiquette

  1. Bonnie

    Thank you for this excellent tutorial Lady Sarah. I always cringe when my pink stained lips touch the lovely starched white napkins. Have a wonderful weekend.

    Reply
  2. Virginia

    I am not sure this list is know here in the States. I know my food is often not bite size, such delicacies may be too refined for America!!

    Do you think fashion in general may be a suitable topic, or too risky? I would like to imagine myself having tea with ladies from TPF, espically Lady Sarah, discussing purses and fashion in general. I imagine the weather is a safe topic (I learned this from Jane Austin!), money is not.

    My client and I are having tea lunch as I type; soup, crustless (but not bite size) sandwiches, scone with lemon curd and cream, and loose Earl Grey tea. It’s all quite good, and I’m happy to have a place that serves this here in the Pacific Northwest backwoods!

    Reply

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