Drinking tea is a lot more complicated when you’re the queen. Read on to find out how Queen Elizabeth II likes her tea — and the rules she follows at tea time. And learn the proper way to eat a scone (page 8).
1. Breakfast tea
Let’s start with the most important meal of the day. For breakfast, the queen enjoys some fresh fruit along with a bowl of cereal. (We hear she’s partial to Special K.) As for her tea, she starts the day with a cup of Earl Grey sans milk and sugar. She drinks her breakfast tea in bone china along with a few biscuits (that’s cookies to us Americans), according to Today.
Next: The great debate over what to add to the tea first
2. The queen likes her tea in first
It’s been a hot debate for some time: whether one should pour the tea or milk in first when preparing a cup of tea. The queen, personally, likes her tea in first, according to Express. “Milk should be added after the tea so you can properly gauge how much you need to balance the strength of the brew. Though this is one of the most hotly debated of all the tea-related enigmas!” says Vogue.
Next: The real reason every royal has to pour their tea in first
3. The real reason royals pour their tea in first
As it turns out, royals don’t pour their tea in first (as opposed to milk in first) purely out of preference. They do it for the sake of tradition (and status).
“English potter Josiah Spode decided china tea cups should be made using animal bone to ensure they didn’t crack under intense heat. From then on, Royals and the elite would pour the tea in first to celebrate their expensive china and demonstrate status, whilst people of lower classes would have to keep putting milk in first to stop their cheaper crockery from cracking,” says Express.
Next: Don’t embarrass yourself by doing this when you drink tea.
4. She doesn’t stick out her pinky
It’s often thought it’s proper manners to extend your pinky when drinking tea. But such a gesture is actually considered over the top, and British royals don’t practice it. Vogue even specifically warns its readers never to “extend your pinky” when attending tea time. “It is also a myth that members of Royalty use their pinky when drinking, I have never seen that happen once,” Grant Harrold, a royal family butler, tells Express.
Next: Never drink your tea like this with the queen.
The royal family has specific manners for drinking tea, and slurping is not one of them. For those lucky enough to have tea with the queen, they must drink their tea according to royal family etiquette: Lift the cup, sip, and place the cup back on the saucer after each sip.
Next: How the queen does high tea
6. High tea
High tea is the most elegant of the teas, often served in the afternoon or early evening along with a wide array of delicious sandwiches and treats. “She must have two types of sandwiches, such as cucumber, smoked salmon, egg with mayonnaise, ham and mustard — crusts cut off, naturally. She also enjoys the crust-less jam pennies, tiny raspberry jam sandwiches cut into circles the size of an old English penny,” Today says of the queen’s high tea routine.
Next: One of her favorite places to go to tea
7. The Goring
According to Vogue, the Goring Hotel is one of the queen’s favorite places to get tea. Located near Buckingham Palace, the hotel is known for its extravagant afternoon tea. “The Goring has been perfecting the art of Afternoon Tea since it opened its doors over a century ago. As the holder of The British Tea Guild Council’s Top London Afternoon Tea Award and The Award of Excellence, we continue to delight guests with delicious pastries, fruity homemade jams and high quality tea blends,” according to the hotel’s website.
Next: The rule she needs to follow when eating scones
8. How her majesty likes her scones
Believe it or not, there’s a proper way to eat a scone, and the queen isn’t one to bend the rules. “The Royal way to eat a scone is to either cut it with a knife or break it with your hands and put the cream on first and then the jam. If her majesty was visiting Cornwall she would spread the jam on first then the cream, or in Devon, it would be cream first then jam, because that is the way they do it and she is a very diplomatic lady,” Harrold, the royal butler, tells Express.
Additional reporting by Jessie Quinn.
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