Our ever-so British guide to afternoon tea etiquette

by Rachel Ricks
Thursday 01 January 1970

Afternoon tea is an important business in Britain, so avoid causing unutterable offence and explore our afternoon table for tips…

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Afternoon tea etiquette

One must eat the sandwiches first, and with fingers not cutlery.

Then the scones – they should still be warm.

Scones should be broken in 2 by hand, not with a knife, and each half eaten separately. It’s unthinkable to sandwich them back together!

One can spread scones how one prefers: the Devon way is cream first, jam on top. The Cornwall way is jam first, then the cream.

We know it’s hard, but one must save those delightful cakes till last!

One person is elected to be ‘mother’ – they then pour the tea for everyone at the table.

Remember to put the milk in first!

Tea should be stirred back and forth, not in circular motions! One must also avoid the temptation to bash the sides with one’s spoon.

Cups should be held with one’s thumb and index finger meeting in the handle and the handle resting on your middle finger. Fingers should not be hooked through, and horror of horrors saucers never lifted from the table.

You may add a touch of fizz to your tea with a glass of English Sparkling Wine or a glass of Champagne.



Rachel Ricks

Rachel is Britain's biggest fan so she couldn't possibly choose her favourite place to visit in the country! From hiking in the wild and windswept Highlands of Scotland, to moseying around the shops in Brighton's Lanes, Rachel has done it and written about it.

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