Saturday, 7 January 2012

doing it all wrong

it's important to approach the 'tower' in an appropriate manner 

Today I experienced my first High Tea.  It was rather grand and fabulous.  But when I got home I used my Cardinal-Cyn-Investigator skills to discover to my amusement, that we did it all wrong.  

a bit about the rules
Traditionally “High” refers to the height of the table – e.g. not eaten off a low coffee table, but rather, a proper ‘high’ table.  And it’s all rather formal and has a plethora of rules surrounding the etiquette involved (not that we knew this, or if we did – no one took the slightest bit of notice).  High Tea is supposed to be served at ‘tea time’ – i.e. between 5-7pm, and special treatment ranges from the way you treat your napkin (never call them serviettes), to stirring your tea in an anti-clockwise direction whilst not allowing your spoon to touch the sides of the cup! 

what we did
Yeah well we completely stuffed any rules.  I think we must’ve broken every rule in the book.  
  • ·         We did our High Tea at 12noon, and laughed loudly at swapped stories
  • ·         We hooked into all the food in the wrong order (we ate from the bottom up, instead of from top down from ‘the tower’)
  • ·         We left our mobile phones on the table (the horror!)  
  • ·         We grabbed food straight off the plate, instead of using utensils, and scoffed our bread rolls whole without breaking or cutting them into bite-sized pieces  
  • ·         We used a knife (instead of a fork and spoon) to cut cakes in half so we could all share a bit  
  • ·         Some of us had the audacity to request coffee (!) instead of tea (I won’t say who that was….)  And then… after the arrival of tea/coffee, blew on it to cool it!  (Shocking, I know)  
  • ·         Our serviettes (oops, sorry… napkins) were treated like aprons and used in whatever capacity we wished, scrunching them up and dumping them on the plates when we’d finished.  (Oops)

The big idea
Turns out the main thrust of High Tea is to enjoy other people’s company.  It’s a social occasion and meant to focus primarily on conversation and connection with the others.  And in this regard, I believe we got this bit absolutely right.  Yes.  The enjoyment factor was way up there, and company delightful.  So all is not a disaster from an etiquette perspective, although I doubt very much whether any of us give a toss about the etiquette.  Ha ha!!

Want to know more about the rules on High Tea in Oz?  Take the test on how your behaviour would measure up by clicking here.  Then fess up by leaving a comment.  Tell us if you've ever done High Tea and how your etiquette measured up!

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