The question of manners at tea time comes up online and in the real world. In fact, some feel rather more inclined when enjoying tea to follow certain social conventions and even tea rituals and ceremonies. From the way the tea is prepared to what foods to serve to how to pour and enjoy the tea — all seem to contribute to your enjoyment. Some may call this tea snobbery while others call it being civilized and maintaining traditions. I call it simply having a bit of regard for your tea time companions. Sometimes exercising good manners means not saying anything harsh when the service is not quite Class A. Or some instances of manners have to do with your behavior while imbibing.
So, how are your tea time manners? Find out here:
- Your host/hostess serves up scones a bit burnt on the bottom and generally overdone, so you:
A. Accept them politely and nibble on them.
B. Ladle on the clotted cream and jam to hide the extra crispy parts.
C. Say no thanks, that you’re not that hungry (while your tummy proceeds to make a liar of you by growling loudly).
D. Grab a rock hard scone and throw it at the wall, where it gets embedded in the drywall, and say “Bake much?”
- The milk set out for use in your tea was definitely on the curdled side, so you:
A. Decide not to have milk in your tea and double up on sweetener instead.
B. Take a chance and put a little in your tea (it’s a nice malty Assam and needs that smoothing).
C. Offer to make a quick trip to the grocer’s to get some fresh milk.
D. Pour the bad milk out all over the floor just to make a point.
- The tea has cooled in the teapot enough that it’s barely drinkable, so you:
A. Go ahead and accept that second cuppa with a meekly said “Thanks.”
B. Ask if there is any way to warm up the tea to a tolerable level.
C. Say that it’s probably a good idea to steep up a fresh pot of tea.
D. Go into your host’s kitchen and put the kettle on, saying “Hint, hint!”
- One of the other guests at tea time slurps the tea loudly, so you:
A. Pretend not to notice and go on as usual.
B. Look around like you don’t know where that strange noise came from.
C. Do a little light slurping of your own, joining in the fun.
D. Make a loud comment about SOME people’s MANNERS!
- When lifting up your own teacup to take a sip, you:
A. Refrain from pointing your pinkie finger.
B. Follow whatever the other attendees do so that you’re all on the same page pinkie-wise.
C. Make a bit of a joke of the whole pinkie pointing controversy, saying that you’re just “poking fun.”
D. Parody the person pointing his/her pinkie with exaggerated gestures while saying “Lah TEA dah, look at me and my pinkie!”
- Often at a less formal Afternoon Tea (where the tea and cakes are laid out on a low table and then served out to the guests who balance everything on their laps), you:
A. Take your teacup and saucer daintily, put a cookie on the saucer beside the teacup, sit carefully, and lay your napkin across your lap before partaking.
B. Ask the host/hostess if a tray table is available.
C. Con … uh, persuade one of the other guests into holding your food plate while you sip your tea.
D. Say “Nuts to that!” and pull your chair close to the low table, diving into the plate of cakes as if there were no tomorrow!
- While telling your crowd-pleasing story about the fisherman and the camel, one of the folks listening laughs and snorts tea out his/her nose, so you:
A. Pretend it didn’t happen and go on with your tale.
B. Snort a little tea through your nose just to show a bit of camaraderie.
C. Deftly hand the snorter the oversized hankie you always carry with you for such occasions.
D. Laugh out loud at the snorter and make derisive remarks like “Where’d you learn YOUR manners?”
- The tea is all consumed and so are the treats, so you:
A. Offer to help your host/hostess gather up teacups, saucers, plates, etc., and take them to the kitchen.
B. Hand your teacup and saucer to the person helping the host/hostess clean up.
C. Feign ignorance and casually set down your teacup on a nearby table.
D. Wipe out the teacup with your napkin and stuff the teacup and saucer in your pockets, hoping your host/hostess didn’t notice.
If you answered ‘A’ to most of these, you are the ultimate tea time guest. If you answered ‘D’ to more than two of these, you may find yourself crossed off of future guest lists for tea time!
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