My Cup of Tea

Spinnaker

Exploring etiquette involved with tea-time.

I do not recall ever waking up without the aroma of fresh tea brewing on the stove. Tea time is a great way to socialize with friends and family — but beware, my fellow tea-drinkers, this social indulgence doesn’t follow the average lemonade informality. The Spinnaker can help you achieve proper etiquette one sip-tip at a time.

Top 10 commandments from The Spinnaker’s tea bible:

  • First and foremost, NO pinkies out during tea! Sorry pinkies, but the act is now considered outdated and ill-mannered. People only did this when teacups did not have handles. The pinky goes underneath the cup or straddles the side of the cup.
  • The spout of the teapot or kettle faces the host, letting us know who’s in charge.
  • Teaspoons aren’t just used for stirring sugar. Place the spoon across the cup, or beside the cup on the saucer if the cup is too big, to let the pourer know you’ve had enough.
  • Do not sip from or lick the teaspoon. Yuck.
  • Add sugar cubes with a tong, but don’t let the cubes slosh tea. Be careful not to dip the tong in the tea either.
  • Place little tea snacks on a tea plate, with the cup on the side.
  • Hold the cup in your right hand, saucer in your left. If seated, don’t lift the saucer while taking sips. If standing, lift saucer up to the chest. Be careful not to spill — tea stains are a pain!
  • As for the drinking, don’t chug, slurp (I frowned, wrinkled my nose and stuck my tongue out while typing that word) or throw back tea as if it were a shot. Gently sip — this keeps the tongue from burning.
  • Men can try drinking from a moustache cup. Invented by Harvey Adams in the 19th century, this cup has a ledge in the shape of a moustache on the side of the cup, letting the gentleman’s moustache remain dry while he sips his tea.
  • Respect your guests, indulge in intelligent conversation and enjoy.

If tea had a best friend, “Scones” would be her name. Here is a simple, classic recipe I found on greatpartyrecipes.com/sconerecipes.html.

Basic Scone Recipe:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup milk (approx.)

  1. Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add butter and stir until the mixture resembles crumbs. Stir in the egg (this is a good point to add nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, cheese, etc. if desired).
  2. Gradually add the milk until a thick dough is formed — it may take more or less than 3/4 cup.
  3. Turn out the mixture onto a floured board and knead lightly. Roll out the dough to ¾-inch thickness and cut into rounds with a 2-inch cookie cutter. Gather the trimmings and lightly knead, roll and cut them, as well.
  4. Place the rounds about 1-inch apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush the tops with a little beaten egg or milk. Bake in a preheated 450-degree oven for about 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm.

Makes 12 to 16 scones.

Well-made scones are flaky — sort of like slightly hard biscuits — and are eaten with butter and/or jam. I usually add slices of strawberries to my scones.

Like treating yourself to tea often? Try different flavors from Teavana at the Avenues Mall. Earl Grey and Darjeeling are my personal favorites.