Sipping on a proper cup of English breakfast tea while reading this is encouraged.
We’re mere days from the royal wedding, and while you anxiously await to turn your television on (at 7 AM, eastern standard time on May 19, in case you forgot), you have a lot of studying to do.
Yes, I said studying. Are you really ready to take part in this monumental moment in British history? Can you sip a proper cup of English tea while you wait to greet The Queen of England herself? Okay, so you’ll probably be watching it in your pajamas from the comfort of your living room. But like my grandmother always said, you have to be ready for anything.
See, my Grandparents were born and raised in London, England. Though they raised my mom and her siblings in New Jersey, the English traditions never seemed to fade from their home. In other words, I drank a lot of tea growing up. And with this royally exciting occasion approaching fast, I’m here to share their British etiquette wisdom (which, does largely relate to tea…) with you. So, take some notes, practice your tea making, and get ready for a memorable wedding.
Be Prepared to Meet the Queen
When I asked my brother if he remembered anything Grandma used to tell us for this story, he immediately said, “Always be ready to meet The Queen.” And he’s right. Always, and I mean always, be ready to meet The Queen. Sure, you’re probably thousands of miles away on a different continent — but you never know. Your invitation may be on its way. So, what does that mean in practical terms? Dress to impress, behave gracefully, and keep up with the news for conversation starters.
If you’re so inclined, keep in mind the official greeting when meeting a member of the royal family. Men bow from the neck and women are expected to curtsy. Always address The Queen as “Your Majesty” and for other members of the royal family, “Your Royal Highness” is preferred.
Drink Tea With Your Pinky Up
I’m not entirely sure what the history (or need) is for this, but Grandma always sipped her tea with her pinky up. I’m not gonna lie, it makes holding dainty tea cups a little bit awkward, and definitely adds some stress to the rest of your hand. But hey, if you have to be ready to meet The Queen at all times, you better sip your tea in an A-plus manner.
Let Your Tea Get Dark
And when I say dark, I mean dark. We’re talking about multiple tea bags per pot, and just Let. It. Steep... Nope, it’s not done.
It’s also best to pour milk into your teacup first, followed by the dark tea. My mom claims it has something to do with making sure the tea is as dark as possible. But, a quick Google search reveals that it’s obviously a hot topic for discussion. That said, my grandfather still prepares his tea milk first, so that’s the clearly the right answer.
Keep Your Tea Warm
This may seem obvious, but there are a few tricks my grandma passed down to make sure you can drink piping hot tea for the entirety of the wedding ceremony. First, pour hot water into the teapot before filling it with tea. This helps to pre-warm the pot, and ensure your kettle full of whistling water won’t cool down when transfered. Then dump the hot water, add the tea bags or leaves, and refill with the boiling water.
Next, keep your teapot warm once it’s placed on the table with a stylish tea cozy. It’s basically a knitted scarf for your tea pot. Sometimes the material is made from cotton and resembles an oven mitt, but it’s even better if you can knit your own.
Serve Your Tea With The Proper Food
If you’ve ever experienced a proper afternoon tea, you know the food is just as important as the selection of tea leaves. It’s essential to have an array of finger sandwiches (also called tea sandwiches) and something sweet to finish off the meal.
The classic bite is a cucumber and cream cheese sandwich, but other varieties of finger sandwiches tend to include egg salad, chicken salad, or even slices of tomatoes. Additionally, my grandma would serve scones and tea cakes at dessert. You can also use our guide for What to Make for Your Royal Wedding Viewing Party if you want to make the experience a little more extravagant.
Always Be Ready for Tea
To this day, the first thing my mom asks my grandpa when he comes to visit is if he wants a cup of tea. This is because there’s never a bad time for tea. You can have tea for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, dessert, and pretty much any other time in between.
My grandma always kept a tray ready to go in the corner of the dining room. A clean tea pot in a cozy was the center, surrounded by small containers of jam, sugar, sweeteners, tea cups, and an empty vessel for milk.
Did I hear “tea?” Great, I’ll warm up a pot.
*Note: These tips are advice from my grandparents. They are not guaranteed to be the unequivocal only way to do anything. If your relative who visited England one time in 1983 disagrees with any of the above, there’s no need to get upset about it. Just take a breath and have another cup of tea.