There is one piece of flatware often misused…the teaspoon…and no better time to talk about it’s use than when having tea!
A teaspoon was and still is used as a unit of measure for measuring loose tea leaves into a teapot to brew tea. (If you are preparing a 6-cup teapot you would add six teaspoons full of loose tea leaves.) It was prior to the Victorian Era that the teaspoon got it’s name.
When setting your tea place setting, place the teaspoon on the saucer and at the backside of the teacup. This is the position you will use throughout the tea. Move the teaspoon to quietly and noiselessly stir the sugar and cream that is added to tea blends such as a bold English Breakfast blend, moving the teaspoon gently in a back and forth motion. We have all “heard” someone blend their tea by striking the sides of the teacup. That will land you in the Tea Drinkers Hall of Shame, as will leaving the teaspoon inside the teacup and drinking from the cup at the same time.
It is also correct to place the teaspoon on the tabletop, to the right side of the dinner or luncheon knife (if one is being used) when first setting your table. Once the teaspoon has been used to stir the tea, you will always place it on the backside of the teacup, resting on the saucer. You never want to place a used teaspoon or any piece of used flatware back onto the tabletop as it soils the table linens, or leaves food pieces on a tabletop or charger.
You might be asking yourself why the teaspoon is placed on the backside of the teacup. Remember, all dining etiquette is based on simplicity, the least amount of movement, and being practical. If a teaspoon is placed on the front side of the cup, you risk knocking it off the saucer. Then the noise draws attention to you and drips tea onto linens. If you have ever had tea drip on a white tablecloth you know it likely will become a permanent stain.
Having tea is such an enjoyable experience to have with friends and family. Spoil someone you know. Dust off those family heirloom teacups and saucers, bake some scones, and create an memory!
Dining tip of the day:
- If a teaspoon is not being used, don’t set it on your table as part of the place setting. For example, if your dinner menu is chicken, mashed potatoes and a leafy green salad all served on the same plate, the flatware you would set is a dinner knife and dinner fork. That’s it!