I am delighted to welcome Myka Meier today for the fourth installment of our six-week “Manners from the Manor” series. As the founder of Beaumont Etiquette and creator of The Plaza Finishing Program, Myka teaches etiquette classes at the renowned Plaza New York and across the United States. A dual American and British citizen, Myka trained in London under a former member of The Royal Household of Her Majesty the Queen, and she has worked with members of the British Royal family. She also serves as official etiquette partner of Downton Abbey: The Exhibition. Welcome, Myka!
Afternoon Tea Etiquette by Myka Meier
Afternoon Tea is different than High Tea. Afternoon Tea is held between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. and the menu for Afternoon Tea is tea, tea sandwiches, pastries and scones. High Tea is a meal where any food can be served, such as spaghetti Bolognese or poached salmon.
How to Hold a Teacup
Teacups, as with glasses, are set to the right of the place setting, with the handle facing three o’clock. If you are left handed it’s up to you to turn it to nine o’clock to hold with your left hand.
To hold a teacup, pinch your thumb and index finger together through the handle. Then support the length of the handle with your middle finger. Tuck you ring and pinky finger into your hand. Pinkies are never out!
If the cup is heavy, you may use the index and middle finger on your other hand to support the other side of the cup.
Saucers remain on the table while sitting. You would only hold a saucer if there is no table to place it on, or if you were walking around with a teacup you would hold a saucer to catch any drips. Hold the saucer in the palm of your left hand, if you’re right handed, and in your right if you’re left handed.
The teaspoon, once used, is placed on the right side of the saucer, beneath the handle. Any sugar wrappers or lemon rinds may be placed on the upper left area of the saucer.
Afternoon Tea Service
Tea may be steeped with a teabag or with tea leaves. If a teabag, it should be removed from the teapot before it is served.
If tea leaves are used, a strainer and holder for the strainer will be set at your place setting. Pour the tea through the strainer and then place the strainer in the holder it sits in.
You can enjoy black, green or herbal tea with your meal. Sugar, lemon, honey or milk can all be added to team. You don’t use cream with tea. We recommend pouring the tea first, followed by milk.
Afternoon Tea Menu
The Afternoon Tea menu is traditionally served in a tiered stand. You’ll often see a three-tiered stand to hold each course. A two-tiered stand may hold sandwiches and desserts, with scones wrapped in a separate basket.
Enjoy the tea sandwiches first. They are meant to be eaten with your hands. Tea sandwiches should be cut into rectangle or triangle shapes and are flat. Some examples of tea sandwiches are smoked salmon, cream cheese with cucumbers, and turkey or ham with swiss or cheddar cheese.
After sandwiches, take a scone and break the top off over your plate so it’s in two halves. Take a piece off one at a time to eat. Spread with clotted cream first followed by jam (not jelly) or lemon curd. Be sure to serve a different spoon with the clotted cream, jam and lemon curd.
Finally, enjoy the pastries and sweets. Cakes, brownies, tarts and petit fours are some of the desserts, or puddings as they are called in England, that may be served as the final course of an Afternoon Tea.
How to Make a Pot of Tea
Follow these instructions to make tea with tea leaves:
Boil a kettle of water and pour it into a teapot. Let the water sit in the tea pot for 2 minutes and then empty the water. This will heat the teapot before putting in the water that you will steep the tea in.
Add one heaping teaspoon of leaves per person plus one teaspoon for the pot. So for example, if you are serving three people, you would pour four heaping teaspoons of leaves in the teapot.
Let it brew for three to six minutes, depending on how strong you want the tea. The longer it steeps, the stronger it will be.
Afternoon Tea for Children
Children can also enjoy a delicious afternoon tea, but the menu should be adjusted to reflect their tastes and preferences.
Instead of tea offer pink or yellow lemonade or hot cocoa in cooler months. You can top off their hot cocoa with fresh marshmallows or whipped cream!
For tea sandwiches, offer kid-friendly options: peanut butter and jelly (if there are no nut allergies), cream cheese and jelly, turkey or ham with cheese, and tuna or egg salad.
Dessert can include mini-cupcakes, macarons, bite-sized brownies and fruit kebobs. (Fruit is more common at an American Afternoon Tea than at a European Afternoon Tea.)
To learn more please visit Beaumont Etiquette, and check out the Intensive Course at The Plaza Hotel on November 3rd. A discounted rate at The Plaza for the weekend course is available. You can also follow @mykameier on Instagram for ongoing tips, and stay tuned to The Glam Pad for the last two installments of our six-week “Manners from the Manor” series!
- Introduction: Meet Myka (09.26.18)
- Week 1: The Duchess Effect (10.03.18)
- Week 2: Dressing Etiquette (10.10.18)
- Week 3: Dining Etiquette (10.19.18)
- Week 4: Afternoon Tea (10.24.18)
- Week 5: Etiquette for Children (10.31.18)
- Week 6: Holiday Etiquette (11.07.18)