I had the most wonderful experience recently with some of my fellow Memphis bloggers. We had afternoon tea at Chez Philippe inside the Historic Peabody Hotel. If you ever visit Memphis the beautiful Peabody Hotel is a must see on your itinerary. This wasn’t just any Afternoon Tea, this was High Tea and it was also the same day as the Royal Wedding! How appropriate right? For those of you who don’t know what that is. I’ll explain… it’s basically an excuse to wear embellishments on your head, wear fancy dresses, and use fine china, and I love every minute of it. Some might be intimidated by such an affair so I’m here to help ease the appearing daunting task of attending such an event.
Did you know: The British tradition of High Tea began in the mid-1700s as an afternoon meal usually served between 3 and 4 o’clock. Initially, it was a meal for the working man, taken standing up or sitting on tall stools, thus ‘high’.
I remember the first time I was to attend high tea with my then boyfriend’s family. I was so nervous, it was important to me to make a good first impression. Being the fashionista I am, I knew I had to have the perfect outfit. Now that I’ve chosen several outfits, here are a few tips for you… The first thing to remember is High
Tea is proper so your outfit should be semi-formal and tasteful. This doesn’t mean it can’t reflect some of your own personal style. For me that meant feminine- so ruffles, bows and something floral. After you’ve picked a great dress, it’s time for the accessories! You can choose to wear a big hat or fascinator, maybe some pearls or statement earrings. Add a clutch to match and you’re now all set for tea time!
Be sure to check out my “Shop My Instagram” page to shop this look for yourself
Now on to Tea Etiquette… fortunately High Tea doesn’t have to as proper as it use to be. Most venues here in America are pretty relaxed. No one expects you to know exactly which way to stir your spoon (counterclockwise from 6 – 12 positi0n), or to which tea to choose. However here are a few do and don’t to help you feel a bit more polished.
1. Cream or Jam first?
Most likely if you attend High Tea at a venue like the Chez Philippe you’ll be served freshly baked, warm scones with cream, butter, and preserves. There are two traditional groups who lay claim to the invention of the Cream Tea, and each has a view on the order of the toppings. The one group says cream first with jam spread on top while the other says to slather the jam on and top it off with cream. At the end of the day, it remains a matter of preference. I personally like to cream first.
2. Pinkies Up?
One thought for the longest that holding the pinkie out would help balance the cup in hand but this isn’t the case. This was intended for fun and you might just end up looking silly; I would skip this common faux.
3. Does it really matter how you sit?
Yes, yes, YES! No slouchers here… not only will you appear to have bad posture, some even take it as a sign of disrespect. So wear that fabulous hat high, with a long neck and straight back. Also, another thing to remember is to cross your legs at the ankles while sitting.
4. How should I eat my scone?
Commonly socialites would break the scone into small pieces as to not have a social mishap. I personally think this is still a useful practice. You can choose how big you’d like this said broken pieces to be. I, however, like them to be bite size and I then add my butter, cream or jam to each piece.
5. Wear to put the silverware?
While you don’t have to use every piece of silverware served to you, it’s important to never put them on the table after being used. After stirring your tea, simply put the used spoon on the saucer next to your cup. After using the butter knife, put it back on your serving plate. At more formal establishments, there’s even a little holder on the table to rest your knife or spoon.
I hope you enjoyed learning more and will now feel a bit more prepared for your next Afternoon Tea!
I love seeing pictures of you all. Please feel free to send me photos of you in your outfits or at your events. I might even feature you on my blog.