First things first. My sister-in-law recently treated me to a cup of Bellocq Tea Atelier No. 20 Kikuya tea, made in Brooklyn and sold in Bergdorf's. It tasted exquisite. Like roses. And the packaging is so darling. I think it'd make for a perfect Christmas gift, wrapped in brown paper and tied up with yarn. Or left unwrapped with a contrasting colored velvet ribbon and a little gift tag like these ones.
But today's post is for the tea drinker who is looking beyond chic packaging to a set of chic tea drinking maners. I came across a funny little point of etiquette in Miss Manners (a temple of etiquette of which I devoured all 820 pages in a week) about tea drinking. First is that "high tea" as we know it at places like the Plaza is all wrong. It's a marketing ploy that misuses the word "high" to sound fancy and while it's certainly fun, its ostentatious reputation isn't based in any real history. High tea is actually a casual tea service served in one's home in the late afternoon when it's "high time" that guests have a little something to eat. For that reason "high tea" includes foods and drinks heavier than and beyond typical tea food fare, but doesn't amount to a dinner.
Second applies to tea drinking in the regular course. Please pass the sugar dear, so that I can add it to my tea straight away. Sugar should be added to a cup of tea first, before the milk. In fact, there was a rather cruel saying at the turn of the century for nannies and governesses or social upstarts who didn't quite understand the rules of the game. 'She's a rather milk-in-first type of girl, isn't she?', a society lady was apt to snicker.
And now I give you permission to snicker away! ...Discreetly, of course.
PS - Bellocq Tea is also sold at Purl Soho, that little treasure trove I mentioned here last week.
Link to article: AnnieDean.com