A Guide To Tea Drinking Etiquette


Tea is an indulgence, and sometimes it’s nice to add a little bit of ceremony to drinking your tea. Did you know that there is such a thing as tea drinking etiquette? 

There are a few general rules which are traditionally adhered to when drinking tea in the UK - such as how to hold your cup, how to stir, and even where to look when you’re drinking tea! Here’s our handy guide to tea drinking etiquette.

Firstly and most importantly, the tea should always be served through a strainer, and not from a teabag, when hosting guests for tea. You should also serve it in a teapot, with cups, saucers, and teaspoons for your guests. 

Tea is traditionally served by a nominated pourer. This person will pour their guests’ tea from a teapot, and then place the teapot on the table with the spout facing themselves. Cups of tea should be poured one by one and given to your guest - not filled all at once and then handed out! If the host asks you to pass your cup, you should hand them both your cup and saucer. 

Milk should also be added after the tea, since you won’t know the strength of the tea until it’s been poured. When holding your cup, your thumb and index finger should join in the handle, with your middle finger supporting the cup - and you definitely shouldn’t stick your little finger out! 

Your saucer should always remain on the table, unless you’re standing up, or sitting with no table, in which case you can hold both the saucer and the cup. Place the cup back on the saucer in between sips. For right-handed drinkers, you should always hold the cup with the handle at 3 o’clock, and for those who are left-handed, the handle should be positioned at 9 o’clock. It’s also considered impolite to look around the room whilst you sip - instead, you should look into your cup as you drink. Who knew!

When stirring your tea, you shouldn’t make a whirlpool with your teaspoon - instead, the proper way to stir is in back and forth motions, as if from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock. You can flick your spoon above the teacup to get rid of any excess drips (but don’t tap it on the side of the cup, as this isn’t seen as elegant!) and then replace the spoon on the right hand side of the saucer. 

So there you have it; you might not have known there were so many table manners involved in tea drinking! Of course, these rules only really apply to formal afternoon teas or tea parties - your tea is your relaxing ritual, and you should enjoy it as you please.

Our blog is full of tea musings, find more of our posts here.

Dorothy Stubley
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