The Perfect Tea Tray

Having a friend over for tea is a lovely way to spend time catching up on gossip and each other’s lives, but without the strain or effort of preparing food. It is intimate and informal, although that does not mean to say that the principles of good hospitality can be merrily abandoned. Whilst your guest may not be expecting a beautifully set dinner table, chipped china and slapdash service may put them on edge. Taking time to have the tea tray set before they arrive will ensure you can spend as little time as possible faffing with making the tea whilst forgetting to entertain and chat with your guest.

  1. Fill and boil the kettle prior to guest’s arrival
  2. Warm your teapot before they arrive too (No need to brew the tea until they arrive)
  3. Have your selection of loose leaf teas already out so you can offer a choice
  4. Set out the tea tray and make sure it has everything they may want

a. Teapot
b. Milk jug
c. Sugar (white cubes, preferably) and sugar tongs
d. Slices of lemon (pips removed)
e. Cups, saucers and teaspoons
f. Tea strainer

Pistachio oat bran pudding5. Check everything is ready and presentable in the sitting room
6. A plate of biscuits or some tasty morsels ready to go (perhaps covered in clingfilm if you decide to get ready hours in advance) is also a good idea. I always have some homemade pistachio fudge in the freezer which I can whip out at a moment’s notice and within 10 minutes out of the cold, it’s ready to eat!

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When setting up your tea tray in the kitchen, place the heavier items in the middle rather than on to one side as this will make it much easier to carry it through once your friend has arrived.

Guest Contributor William Hanson is Senior Tutor with The English Manner


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2016-02-10T22:46:43+00:00 By |
William joined The English Manner in 2008. He began teaching etiquette from an early age and has gained much experience in teaching manners and protocol to schools and businesses. He has worked with and advised large companies such as Bentley, Champagne Bollinger, Fox’s Biscuits, Green & Black's and the National Lottery. He has worked within VIP households and trained business professionals, schoolchildren, and diplomats alike. A perennial voice on the BBC, William comments on matters of taste and critiques social trends for a wide-range of media outlets including Tatler and the Financial Times. He has his own range of Etiquette apps and released his first book in January 2014 to high praise. He is currently penning a second. William is the world’s only Guinness World Record holding etiquette expert.