As a tea-drinking nation, the majority of Britons start the day with a cup of tea and then have another, and another, throughout the rest of the day.Scroll down for a step-by-step guide to the do's and don'ts of afternoon tea.CLICK ON PHOTOS FOR MORE DOWNTON PICTURES
But are you taking tea the right way? Which direction should you stir, and what goes in first — the milk or the hot water?
In honour of the Emmy-nominated hit series Downton Abbey, training company The English Manner has revealed their top tips on how to take afternoon tea "the Downton way".Find out below if your tea-drinking etiquette is as good as the Dowager Countess of Grantham...Click on photos for more Downton Abbey pictures.
1. Pour the tea through a strainer, holding the lid securely2. Pour in the milk3. Make sure you stir vertically in a 6 to 12 motion, careful not to spill any tea4. Do not stir in a circular motion clinking the china as you go5. Lift the tea gently off the table, careful not to hold it too high6. Do not hook your finger through the handle7. Do not hold the cup around the bowl to warm your hands8. Do not stick your pinky out in an attempt to appear sophisticated9. Break your scone in half; do not cut with a knife. If the scone is baked correctly, it should part without crumbling10. Put your jam and cream on the side of the plate not directly on the scone11. Do not smear the condiments on the scone whilst holding it up in the air like so in an ungainly fashion12. Delicately dab the side of your mouth with your napkin as needed13. Do not aggressively smear your face into the napkin
In the era where English houses would have an Upstairs (aristocracy) and Downstairs (the servants), adding the milk in before the hot water was always done by the downstairs of the house, who would have pottery mugs for their tea. As these mugs did not react too well to the boiling water, the cold milk was poured in first so that it instantly cooled the water and protected the mugs from damage.Meanwhile, in the "upstairs" of the house, where they could afford cups and saucers made from china or porcelain, the milk could be added after the hot water.
In the Downton time, afternoon tea would be taken at 4pm and at longer, formal dinners, guests would sit boy-girl-boy-girl. Traditionally, ladies would speak to the gentleman to their left for the first course, and then to the man on their right for the next, and then vice versa over the following courses to ensure that everyone was spoken to.Downton Abbey Series 4 is out on Blu-ray and DVD on 11 November, from Universal Pictures (UK).