Proper Tea House Etiquette

An editor for the college planning service firm Scholar Compass, Allison Schottenstein will earn her PhD in history from the University of Texas at Austin in 2016. Outside of her professional life, Allison Schottenstein collects miniature tea sets and enjoys visiting tea houses during her international travels. When visiting at a tea house, the following etiquette tips should be observed by patrons who wish to adhere to traditional customs.

Visitors should begin by maintaining proper dress, with typical modern tea houses hosting guests dressed in a casual, clean fashion. Women frequently use tea gatherings as an opportunity to wear dresses that end mid-calf, while men typically wear collared shirts and trousers or pressed jeans.

Once guests are seated, all parties should place napkins in their laps. Before the tea is poured, it is important to remember that sugar should be placed in a teacup first, followed by any lemon slices desired. After the tea is poured, patrons may add milk to accommodate their personal tastes. It is important to remember that when stirring tea, touching the spoon to the side of the cup should be avoided, as it is considered poor manners.

Teacups should be held by their handles using no more than the thumb, forefinger, and middle finger. It is considered improper to loop fingers through the cup’s handle, or to hold the cup by its sides. Tea drinkers should also place cups on their saucers when not being held.