Tips for a Proper English Tea Party

Tea parties are the most quintessential English custom. If you wanted to do a proper English Tea party, then it would help to know the types of tea parties, the dos, and don’ts, and other tea time touches you might miss!

These are the four types of English Tea Parties: 

Afternoon Tea – this is enjoyed at a low table in a living room. It has a relaxed setting more than the High Tea.

High tea is usually served at a dining table where you can couple it with small snacks or heavy meals.

Cream Tea is also an afternoon tea, but you paired them with clotted cream or scones.

Royal Tea – teas wherein you add a glass of champagne or sherry to the tea

Do’s and Don’ts:

Do: Dress for Success

You should dress appropriately. Tuxedos or long gowns are not necessary, but a tea party should remain formal. We recommend smart casual. However, dress codes may vary depending on the venue, so make sure to double-check everything before attending.


Ripped jeans, short shorts, dress, scuffed shoes, slippers, etc. are out!

Do: Brew a Tea Correctly

In other countries, it is alright to drink your tea directly from a PET bottle. But, English tea parties are strict with their drinking etiquette. First, you should use loose-leaf tea, not tea bags. Then, remember to put the milk in after the tea. Also, stir the cup in an ‘up and down, back and forth’ motion, 2-3 times.


Don’t ever leave your teaspoon in your teacup. Place your teaspoon on the saucer, instead. Also, refrain from stirring your tea in a circular motion. This will create a lot of noise and may damage the cup.

Do: Drink like a Duchess

The best way to hold a teacup is to hold it with your thumb and index finger in the handle. Your middle finger should rest under your index. Some people believe that this helps you balance the weight of the cup.


Place your finger in the handle or stick your pinky out. This gesture is a common tea-drinking mistake. Most people assume that pinkies out are fancy, but they are unacceptable.

Do: Eat like a Queen

English people usually prepare the finest scones and sandwiches at tea parties. Remember to eat the savories and sandwiches before the scones and the sweets if you are a visitor. Don’t drink just yet!

Scones are eaten as two separate halves cut with a knife or torn with your hands. Yes, you could use your fingers to eat! Also, sandwiches should always be served into small, delicate shapes and without crusts. Slowly but surely, take small bites and chew the food properly.


Of course, you could top your favorite jam into scones but don’t sandwich them again after spreading. While using fingers in sandwiches is okay, you should use a fork when eating cakes. Additionally, resist the temptation of dunking your biscuits in the tea. It doesn’t look exquisite.

Do: Replenish the Tea

Always replenish tea when it is empty. Remember to start with a clean pot, and don’t be shy to have more than one on your table. When you refill it, allow the tea to steep for five to six minutes. This will allow the flavors and antioxidants to diffuse into the water so that it does not taste bitter.


Don’t leave the teapot empty. When using loose tea, don’t forget to strain correctly. You don’t want to pick tea from your teeth when you drink, right?

Do:  Take your Time

Relax and enjoy the experience. If you find the rules uncomfortable, remember that formality mistakes are entirely okay and forgivable.


Don’t eat like it is your last day on Earth! Avoid doing something else like checking on your phone, fixing your hair, or retouching your makeup. If it is necessary, temporarily excuse yourself and leave the table.

Tea Time Touches

Vintage minimalist white tea set

Now that you know the basic etiquette, you might want to remember these additional touches for a much enjoyable tea party:

Cozies – This is the cover of your teapot that keeps your tea hot.

Strainers – Some teapots have built-in strainers. If your teapot does not have one, pour the tea through a strainer held over the cup.

Sugar Tongs – When it comes to Tea Parties, sugar cubes are preferable over sugar powder. Always have a sugar tong ready as they add elegance to the table.