British Tea Etiquette: everything you need to know

British Tea Etiquette: everything you need to know

The humble cup of tea is renowned as a symbol of British culture. A national obsession in Britain since it arrived here from China in the 1600s. Its rich history covers everything from travel and trade to class and etiquette. British culture is split into two camps: those that pour the tea first and those who begin with milk.

The British consume 165 million cups of tea a day. That is 60.2 Billion cups per year!

If you are from the United States, you are likely to drink one type of tea; iced tea. English Breakfast tea is most likely not found in your kitchen cupboard but if you choose to study abroad in the UK, it will likely become a kitchen staple. Eventually, you will want to know what all the fuss is about and have a cuppa.


Most Brits would regard tea as a staple drink, brewed quite strong with milk and optional sugar, whether it is in a pint mug ("builders tea") or a china cup and saucer ("afternoon tea").

Posh Tea

Posh Tea

Builders Tea

Builders Tea


Royal butler, Grant Harrold, recently shared the tea-drinking etiquette followed by the Queen. To drink tea like a royal, you’ll need to start by pouring it into a china cup from a teapot. To stir in the milk, use a back and forth motion rather than a circular one. Keep the spoon away from the sides.

Some more rules, you might want to follow when drinking tea:

  1. Sip, don’t slurp

  2. Dunking biscuits is to be saved for informal settings

  3. The little finger should be clasped around the cup handle, not pointing out

  4. Tea should never be used to wash down food

  5. Enjoy at a leisurely pace

How do you like your tea? Leave your answer in comments below!