Learn the Correct Etiquette for British Afternoon Tea

by Charlotte Fay 11 months ago in how to

Your Etiquette and Manners Guide

Learn the Correct Etiquette for British Afternoon Tea

Have you ever wondered the proper way to take Afternoon Tea the British way? Well, now you can take tea the proper way. Whether you are out for Afternoon Tea or arranging your very own Tea Party, you can now incorporate the correct etiquette and manners into your event. Correct manners and etiquette can get you noticed, so here are some top tips to ensure you can take tea like The Queen.

Afternoon Tea Etiquette

Placing your napkin

The first thing we do is place our napkin in our lap. We completely unfold the napkin and then refold it in half. The crease of the napkin should always be placed across the lap from left to right, facing towards you.

Pouring your Tea

Pour the tea into the cup first followed by milk. You cannot tell how strong the tea will be beforehand, and so that is why we add the milk last. If you take sugar you can add this after the tea but before or after the milk.

When stirring tea you should NOT stir round and round. Take your spoon back and forth in the cup, preferably without making a noise. We do not want to disturb others with clinking sounds. Then to remove excess tea from the spoon, do NOT tap on side of cup. Simply tap it gently over the tea so that the excess drops back into the cup.

When holding your china teacup, pinch the thumb and forefinger together in the handle and rest handle on the straight middle finger. Do NOT push your pinkie finger out. This is considered bad manners.

When placing the teacup back down on the saucer, the handle should always be placed at the 3 o’clock position.

When sat at the table, you can simply pick up the cup, leaving the saucer on the table. If however, you are standing, you would bring the teacup and saucer up to you.

Finger Sandwiches

Called this for a reason. Please eat with your fingers and not with any form of cutlery. This is the first course of your tea and is located on the bottom tier of the stand.


The second course. Located on the middle tier. They should NOT be cut in half with a knife. They should be broken in half with hands. Served with clotted cream and jam (Preferably Damson Jam).

Scone should be pronounced as ‘Skon’ always and never ‘Skone.’ This is vital for correct etiquette.

Just in case you were wondering about the big question, it has been confirmed that The Queen takes her scones with jam first followed by the cream. However, it is personal preference and depends on whether you would rather do it the Devon or Cornwall way.


The third course. Located on the top tier. To be eaten with fingers, or in the case of items that may be sticky or messy, a small pastry fork in two to three mouthfuls.

If at any point you need to use your napkin, open at one of the corners and dab the face/mouth with the inner side of the napkin. Close it, hiding any stains, when you place it back down on your lap.

It’s pretty simple when you know how, and I am certain you are now ready to enjoy Afternoon Tea the correct way using correct etiquette. You can also use the same form if you are simply enjoying a cream tea without the sandwiches and cakes or are having tea in a café or hotel during a stay.

how to
Charlotte Fay
Charlotte Fay
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Charlotte Fay

A Mummy and Wife from Kent UK. I’m a Poet, Author, writer, Mindfulness Coach & Artist. I enjoy reading and spending time with my son. I love France and all things French Style.

See all posts by Charlotte Fay