Tea Travels TM : FAQ About Afternoon Tea

Tea Travels TM : FAQ About Afternoon Tea
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tea1. Does one drink tea or take tea?

One drinks tea. During the Victorian era, the term to take tea was used by the lower classes and considered a vulgar expression by the upper classes.

2. Why is the shape of a teapot different from a coffee or chocolate pot?

The teapot is designed with a lower rounded body to insure the tea leaves have the proper room for expansion during the infusion process. The lower placement of the spout on the vessel allows for the tea to be poured without interfering with the leaves.

3. What is the correct placement of the teapot on the table?

The spout of the teapot and the tea kettle faces the hostess or pourer.

4.Are tea urns used for brewing or infusing tea?

No. Tea urns were designed to heat and hold hot water for larger quantities of water. Their function was the same as a tea kettle.Ideally, one would dispense the hot water from the urn into the teapot. "Bring the pot to the Kettle, not the kettle to the pot."

5.How does a teacup differ from a coffee or chocolate cup?

Traditionally a cup equals four ounces. However, the time of day and the beverage served will dictate the proper size of the service piece. Except for demitasse cups, which are served half full, all other cups are served three quarters full. A teacup is 3 1/4" to 3 3/4" in diameter and 2" to 2 1/2" in height. the companion saucer ranges from 5 1/4" to 5 5/8" across. A teacup is shallow and wider than a coffee or chocolate cup, giving the beverage a chance to temper before drinking.

6. What is a moustache cup?

A moustache cup is a nineteenth century variation of the teacup created in England by Harvey Adams. It is designed with a slit ledge projecting from the front side of the rim, allowing the tea to flow through while a gentleman's moustache remains dry resting on the top lip.

7.Why in older pictures of tea settings are spoons placed across the top of a teacup?

Tea was very expensive during the early years of its popularity. As such,the actual tea wares were small in size. There was no room for a teaspoon to rest on the saucer. A guest rested their teaspoon on top of their teacup as an indication they had had sufficient tea. This was a signal to the hostess to stop pouring tea. Today, to indicate the same signal, due to the larger size of the teacup and saucer, the proper placement of the spoon would be across the top of your saucer, not the cup.

8. What is a tea plate?

Native to England and Europe, tea plates were customized to hold a teacup without a saucer.The plate was embedded with a shallow well to secure the teacup. The foods and tea were served together on one plate. When one is using separate tea service pieces the customary size today is either a salad/dessert plate of seven to eight inches or a bread and butter plate of six to seven inches.

9. Where does the expression "not my cup of tea" come from?

To refer to one as "not my cup of tea" derives from the fifteenth century Japanese Teaism. "No tea to him." As one "insusceptible to the seriocomic interests of the personal drama." It is used to describe those one does not care for.

10. How is a traditional English trifle made?

Ruth Darley's advice, whether made from scratch or not, for an easy and quick English trifle recipe. Preferably set in a large footed bowl, alternate layers of the following ingredients: sponge or pound cake moistened with Sherry, egg custard or pudding, sliced strawberries, whipped cream and slivered almonds, repeat layers until bowl is filled. Fruit juice may be substituted for Sherry. Custard and pudding flavors may be changed to taste as well as seasonal berries.

11. When drinking tea does one lift the teacup and saucer or just the teacup?

If one is seated at a table, the proper manner to drink tea is to raise the teacup only,placing it back into the saucer in between sips.

If you are at a buffet tea, hold the tea saucer in your lap with your left hand and hold the tea cup in your right hand. When not in use, place the tea cup back in the tea saucer and hold in your lap.

In either event, never wave or hold your tea cup in the air.

12.What are the proper protocols for wearing gloves at an afternoon tea?

The protocols for wearing gloves are the same, whether one is attending an afternoon tea or any other event where foods and beverages are served.

While gloves are often highly designed with decorations and adornments, their sole purpose is to cover and protect ones hands from the elements.

When greeting another, remove the glove from the right hand, place the removed glove in your left hand and shake hands skin to skin.

It is improper to dine with ones gloves on. Remove your gloves before sitting down to dine. The exception is for long, formal gloves with buttons at the wrist. It is acceptable to unbutton, remove ones fingers and hands and fold back, to the wrist ,the lower portion of the glove without removing the upper portion from your arm. If the gloves have no wrist buttons, the gloves should be removed in their entirety before dining.

Wishing you happy Tea Travels! (TM)

More of Ellen's Articles:
A Spring Tea Menu
Tea and Silver
Tea at the Holidays
The Afternoon Tea Gown
The History of Chocolate
A Summer Rose Tea


About The Author

Ellen Easton, author of TEA TRAVELS(TM), TEA PARTIES and Good $ense For $uccess(TM) published by RED WAGON PRESS, 45 East 89th Street, Suite 20A, NYC, NY 10128-1256: (212) 722-7981, is a consultant and designer of related products, to the hotel, food service, special event and retail industries. She is also available for speaking engagements. Please contact her for more information.

Ellen Easton, the author, does not endorse any outside advertisements that may appear on this site.

No copyrighted materials may be reproduced in any other format, now known or unknown, without prior written permission by Ellen Easton/ RED WAGON PRESS. All copyrights and trademarks remain the sole property of Ellen Easton/ RED WAGON PRESS with all rights reserved. (212) 722-7981


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