Ten Teatime Etiquette Tips from Lisa Richey

  1. What should I do with my tea strainer or tea bag after pouring?

I like to look for the strainers that have a little round bowl underneath to catch the tea and the leaves. That way, you don’t have to worry about where to place it without getting tea on the tablecloth. For bagged tea, ideally a hostess will serve it steeped in the teapot already, so you won’t have an individual bag to deal with. Otherwise, the bag should be placed on a separate dish and never in your saucer, or the liquid will drip off the bottom every time you lift your cup.

  1. Which additives are proper for me to stir into the tea? Is there a special way to stir?

Milk, lemon, and sugar are the classic trio for additive options in tea. Cream should be reserved for coffee, and milk should only be added if lemon is not—never both together. When offering lemon, cut the citrus into rounds rather than wedges. And serve sugar in cubes with tongs whenever possible. Whatever you choose to add to your blend, when you’re stirring, your spoon should move directly from back to front, or 12 to 6, and vice versa. It’s not a circular motion, and your spoon should never touch the side, so that there is no clanking sound.

We hope that this etiquette advice from Lisa Richey equips you to confidently go forth and enjoy the lovely ritual that is known as afternoon tea!

Text Leslie Bennett Smith
Photography John O’Hagan
Styling Sidney Bragiel
Special thanks to Lisa Richey and Suzanne Smith

To learn more about Lisa Richey and her friend Susanne Smith, as well as their thoughts about gathering for afternoon tea, see “The Ideal Blend” in the January/February 2023 issue, available on newsstands and at victoriamag.com. And discover Lisa’s etiquette enterprises, The American Academy of Etiquette and Manners to Go, online.

January/February 2023 Cover

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