Thursday, May 8, 2014

How to Take "Elevenses" Tea

So, most of us know the Queen and the British take Afternoon Tea at 4:00 p.m. Those that are aware of this tradition, are as well familiar with the delectable menu of delicious scones, clotted cream and yummy jams. However, have y'all heard of "Elevenses?"

As a student at St. Anne's College, Oxford, I experienced my first "Elevenses" on our first morning of class. After our 2 hour lecture and discussion, our Professor announced at 10:30 a.m., we were all to adjourn to the house next door. We were all ushered into an ivy covered, brick house with a charming great room. There within these old walls, was a simple setting of tea cups, tea pots and cozies, and what the Brits refer to as "crackers", or what Americans call cookies. Couches, coffee tables and conversation abound. Yea!

So, for the next half hour, students and faculty alike were sipping tea and munching, mulling around  and chatting about, having a wonderful time having Elevenses. What a nice way to get to know our professors personally. What an unofficial opportune opportunity as students to practice our conversational skills with adults. As well, what a great way for those students 'in the know' to show off a bit of 'where with all' about taking tea, such as, how to 'Play Mother' whilst holding a conversation, and after a few days, remembering how others take their tea!

So, here are a few simple tips on how to have "Elevenses:"
  • If you volunteer to "Play Mother," know well how to pour a "cuppa." Pour the cup 3/4 full, leaving room for milk and room to avoid spillage. Then ask: "With sugar, milk, or lemon?"If "Plain" is responded, it is not necessary to place a teaspoon on the saucer.
  • Add the sugar first, then add milk if milk is taken. Never use cream as it disguises the flavor of the tea.
  • Add the sugar first, then the slice, not wedge, of lemon. No need to squeeze the lemon, as it will dissipate naturally, therefore no risk of squirting your neighbor in their eye with the acidic lemon!
  • Unless, and even if you are 6 years old, please do not add lemon to tea with milk, as it will curdle the milk.
  • When stirring the mixture, try not to clink and clank your teaspoon against the cup.  
  • Place your teaspoon on the back of the saucer. 
  • Place any food on a separate plate, not on your saucer.
  • The word napkin, which is derived from the French word "naperon," means "little tablecloth." Please blot the corners of your mouth with your napkin, do not wipe your mouth.
  • Remember, pinch the handle of your tea cup, and know that pinkies are passé!
  • Always introduce yourself if no one introduces you. New friends to be met!
  • When finished with your tea and crackers, place your used plates on a side table, never onto the serving table.
Enjoy your Elevenses and cheers!