No slurping allowed! Here’s how to serve tea like the queen

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Drinking tea is a fine art, just ask Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth. (PHOTO: Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Drinking tea is a fine art, just ask Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth. (PHOTO: Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Fancy a cuppa? There are many theories out there on the proper way to serve tea – but ultimately who is the one authority that matters? Why the queen of England, of course.

According to UK etiquette expert William Hanson, Her Majesty always pours tea for her guests first and then asks them to add their own milk and sugar.

“You’ve got to put the tea in an empty cup to see how strong it is, especially if you haven’t brewed the pot yourself,” he explained during an appearance on the UK’s This Morning Show.

“So you've got to see that first, whether you have to let it sit or put some more water in.”

(PHOTO: Gallo Images/Getty Images)
UK etiquette expert William Hanson advises against stirring one's tea and slurping. (PHOTO: Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Calling it the “post-lactarian method”, he says it harks back to the 19th century in England where the way you took your tea was reflective of your social status.

“Supposedly in the Downton Abbey era, the upstairs of a house, the aristocracy, would be drinking from fine-bone china and that was very well made, very expensive.

“But the staff downstairs would be drinking from slightly cheaper clay mugs. So when the hot liquid went inside, sometimes it would make the mugs crack. 

“They would add cold milk first as a coolant, so when they put the tea in, it cooled the mug down and it didn't crack.”

However, he adds, today this is far from the truth “as I’ve seen people from very elevated backgrounds put their milk in first”.

“Some people like a splash of milk, others like more milk than tea, so it's much nicer to let guests decide rather than do it for them,” Hanson says.

Stirring your tea loudly is a no-no, he adds. 

“Stirring round and round making a noise is an awful method. We don’t want any of that. Instead we go back and forth in a gentle 6/12, 6/12 motion and a little flick above, then set the spoon down in line with the handle.”

(PHOTO: Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Her Majesty only drinks from bone-china cups. (PHOTO: Gallo Images/Getty Images)

If you’re wondering what type of tea the queen drinks, it’s Earl Grey. To that she adds just a splash of milk and no sugar.

According to her former butler, Grant Harrold, she drinks loose-leaf tea, which once it’s brewed is poured through a strainer into a bone china cup.

Most important, he adds, is “not to slurp. Always sip”.




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