In recognition of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee Celebration, I thought that maybe some interesting tidbits on tea might be appropriate. I am sure that during her 60 years of reign and her many travels to distant lands that she has learned the proper etiquette of serving and receiving tea. Quite an impressive life she has led.

So recently I read a very long article on tea-its history, the types. where it is grown, the proper way to serve it, the tea culture of various countries and much more. But to me the thing that stuck in my mind was the etiquette of serving, receiving & drinking tea. One small faux-pas and you may insult your host and embarrass others.

Did you know that in India it is considered impolite to accept a cup of tea the first time it is offered to you? You should decline tea the first, and maybe even the second time, it is offered to you. Only after the host insists, should you gratefully accept the tea.

In China, you should thank your tea server by gently tapping on the table twice with your index and middle fingers. It didn’t say which hand to use though.

In Tibet, tea is commonly brewed with salt and butter and in Hong Kong tea is made with evaporated milk instead of milk. So please don’t ask for it to be served any differently in either country.

In Japan, you may add sugar and milk to your tea but only after tasting it the way is first served to you. If you add either of those prior to tasting it pure, then it is a major insult.

In many countries, including Myanmar, Morocco, Egypt, Tibet, Russia and China, you should never discuss business while drinking tea. Only after all parties have finished drinking the tea, may you begin to discuss business. Tea drinking time is solely spent talking with friends, telling jokes, exchanging gossip and local news.

Please don’t stir your mate in Argentina with the straw. You are to just sip your mate through the straw without disturbing the leaves. Bad luck and insults will result otherwise.

In England after stirring your tea always place your spoon on the saucer with the handle mirroring the direction of the cup handle. It is also no longer polite to drink your tea from the saucer. Pinkies out, dear.

Turkey has the highest per capita consumption in the world followed extremely closely by Ireland and then the United Kingdom. I would have thought that the UK would have been number one. The national average in Ireland is four cups per person per day, with many people drinking six cups or more. Last year when we visited Ireland, we did see many tea rooms. We enjoyed a few pots of tea and the wonderful atmosphere in one quaint tea room in Galway. We were surprised to see in the middle of the day just as many business men in suits as women of all ages enjoying their own special brew. Ah, I think I shall put the kettle on now and savor a cup of freshly brewed tea. Hmmm..

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