Tea Etiquette

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Yes, it’s true, tea is a big part of the British culture and in every social or professional meeting there will be someone asking if you’d like a ‘cuppa’ (the short, cute abbreviation for a cup of tea). In the workplace, coffee may be popular, but tea is still king and I’ve seen people having it from the moment they arrive until they leave. As I only drink herbal tea, usually before bedtime, in an almost lukewarm temperature because I can’t stand super hot drinks, learning how to make a regular cup of Earl Grey was a little tricky, but ended up being the biggest lesson learned during my days as an intern… So, in order to help interns and assistants to be, or just to impress friends, here goes my 101 on tea making:

  • When people ask for a ‘cuppa’ they probably expect it to be Earl Grey. If there’s more blends in the cupboard, you are more than welcome to check if the guest wants another flavour. Always ask if they will have it with or without milk, sugar or sweetener.
  • Since milk nowadays can extend to coconut, soya, almond or oat milks, stick to whatever is in the fridge if you are not given specific requests.
  • Earl Grey was invented for the 2nd Earl Grey in 1830s and is a black tea with notes of bergamot, whilst the English Breakfast Tea is also black, but with floral undertones.
  • Once the water is boiling, pour it in the cup and wait a couple of minutes to brew. Then, add a splash of milk, stir, wait a little longer and remove the tea bag. I have no idea why people don’t like to drink with the bag inside, but anyway…
  • You can serve the cup without sugar, so the person can add the right dose, otherwise one teaspoon is good. For sweeteners, is best to check first.
  • If your boss or co-workers like a particular mug, blend or temperature, make a mental note and always try to meet it – it will surely add extra points for a future promotion or even a kinder letter of reference! ????

Apart from the work tea etiquette, if you want to experience the traditional afternoon tea, which, contrary to popular belief, is served at 4pm, not 5pm, here is a list of glamorous places in London. Enjoy!

Claridge’s Hotel

Flemings Mayfair 

Hotel Café Royal 


The Berkeley Hotel

The Modern Pantry 

The Palm Court at the Ritz 

Ting at the Shard 

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