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Queen Elizabeth II: How she serves her tea – milk etiquette explained by expert

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English etiquette coach and expert William Hanson spoke to Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford about how the Royal Family and the Queen take their tea. William also shared his tips with viewers on how they should serve tea to their guests. 

“Because some people like a little splash of milk and others like more milk than tea, and so it’s much nicer just to let your guests decide rather than do it for them.”

Ruth also noted that there is a correct way to stir your tea after pouring in the water and the milk.

William showed viewers his method, saying: “It’s not round and round making a noise.

“Instead, we go back and forth in a gentle six-twelve, six-twelve motion, and a little flick above and then setting the teaspoon down in line with the handle.”

William stirred his spoon before flicking a little spot of milk off the spoon and into the cup, and then put the spoon to lie on the cup’s saucer.

The etiquette expert also explained to This Morning viewers that, traditionally, when the milk is added is a sign of someone’s wealth: the upper classes poured the milk in after the tea, while poorer people put the milk in first.

He said: “In the nineteenth century, the aristocracy, the upstairs of the house would be drinking from fine-bone china and that was very well-made and very expensive. And so, when you put hot tea in, nothing would happen.

“But the downstairs staff would be drinking from slightly cheaper made clay mugs – not the same mugs we have today, similar shape but different clay – and so when the hot liquid went inside, sometimes this would make the mugs crack.

William continued: “And so they [the downstairs staff] would add some cold milk first as a coolant, so when they then put the tea in, it cooled the mug down and it didn’t crack.

“So supposedly, in the nineteenth century, you could tell someone’s social background by whether they put their milk in first or last.

“It is a load of nonsense today, though,” William added.

However, yesterday, Ruth explained to This Morning viewers that putting in the milk first makes the tea more flavoursome, according to science.

She said: “The proteins in the milk lock in the taste of the tea.”

Although this new way of drinking tea was popular amongst some viewers who shared their opinions on Twitter during the show, Ruth said she couldn’t think of anything more horrible.

She admitted: “I couldn’t think of anything more horrible than putting milk on top of a cold tea bag and then the water.

“I always do tea, hot water and then the milk.”


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