Tearoom manners are a breed all their own. But even regular manners are tricky business. What’s rude and what isn’t seems to change daily. Gents tipping their hats to ladies. Ladies wearing gloves everywhere they went. And so on. Even so, some things are so steady that they are “givens” in polite society and need not be mentioned to and by those well brought up. Saying “excuse me” when you sneeze. Chewing with your mouth closed. The rest of us (yours truly included) need reminding now and then on the finer points, so I drag out my Emily Post and pore over it.
Tearooms can be a special case, though. For example, is it rude to bring your own tea strainer? Emily is not sure. But I am. It’s not rude, so I bring that strainer.
Some more of the good and bad when it comes to taking tea in a tearoom:
- Turn off your cell phone, iPad, iPod, etc. This is common courtesy anywhere. Exceptions, of course, are on-call medical personnel.
- Women wearing hats can keep them on. Ditto for gloves. Men should remove both. (One of those old-time traditions.)
- If you are unhappy with the service, quietly and discreetly call it to the manager’s attention instead of talking about the issue loudly. This is courteous to the tearoom owner as well as the other patrons. Plus, they might love what you hate.
- Keep the conversation light and pleasant and your vocal volume at a reasonable level. If you’re in one of the more “dainty” style tearooms, this is especially important.
- When drinking from your teacup, do not lift the saucer with it. Just raise the teacup and sip, then put it back on the saucer.
- Chew with your mouth closed and swallow before talking to save your table mates from a view of half-masticated scones and finger sandwiches, not to mention culinary projectiles.
- Decide in a calm manner who gets that last tidbit or that last cup from the teapot. Arm wrestling is out, but a discreet game of paper-rock-scissors could be allowed.
Overall, the point is to consider those around you and behave in a way that is congenial to all. The tea and treats are guaranteed to taste better!
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