Once filled, holding a handled teacup correctly insures grace while avoiding spilling hot tea. One's fingers are placed to the front and back of the handle with the pinkie finger tilted slightly up for balance. It is rude to loop fingers through the handle or to hold the body of the cup with the palm of the hand.
Tea should always be sipped sweetly with elegance to show good manners.
Practicing at home before attending a public party might be a wise choice when one is unfamiliar with having afternoon tea.
Tips for Tea Time Etiquette, Manners and a Making a Good Cup of Tea
It is considered rude to stir one's tea in wide circular motions. Proper etiquette requires the teaspoon to be held at the six o'clock position to begin. Then, any added liquid is folded lightly towards the twelve o'clock position two or three times.
The teaspoon should never be left in the teacup. When not in use, the small teaspoon is placed on the right side of the tea saucer.
When not in use, the teacup is placed back on the saucer, rather then held. The saucer will be on the table, or in one's lap if there is no table.
If having milk in one's tea, pouring either the tea or the milk into the cup first constitutes good manners. As a side note, cream is generally avoided as it can mask the taste of the tea.
Sugar cubes may be added to tea with or without milk.
When having lemon with tea, delicate lemon slices are generally offered. A small fork is usually provided for adding lemon to tea.
Another tip is not to combine lemon with milk in tea, as the lemon juice will cause the milk to curdle.
Tea Party Manners while Eating
When seated at the table, the napkin is put on one's lap. The napkin should never touch the table once one is seated. Even if temporarily leaving the table, the napkin is set on the seat.
If served scones, split the scone in half horizontally with a knife. Butter is spread on part of one of the scone's crumb sides. This is topped with jam, if desired.
When Devonshire cream is served with jam and scones, add a dollop by spoonful, on top of the jam.
Tea sandwiches and treats should be eaten in delicate bites. Remember to smile and chat between bites.
Forks should never be set back down on the table. Instead, they are set on the side of the plate.