How to Set a Table for English Tea

Written by erika marie
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How to Set a Table for English Tea
Host an English tea party. (tea time image by Kathy Burns from

Hosting an English tea party is an elegant way to entertain friends and family. Planning the party and laying out the table are half the fun --- and with the proper planning, your English tea party will be remembered for a long time. Using proper etiquette in setting your table will showcase the teas and foods you have prepared and help create an authentic atmosphere for you and your guests to enjoy.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Liquid dish soap
  • Soft kitchen towel
  • Lunch plates
  • Teacups and saucers
  • Cloth napkins
  • Forks
  • Sharp knives
  • Butter knives
  • Waste bowl
  • Dessert plates
  • Dessert spoons and forks
  • Spoons
  • Serving dishes
  • Sugar bowl
  • Creamer

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  1. 1

    Prepare the tea set, serving dishes and silverware. Wash them with liquid dish soap and hand-dry well ahead of time using a soft towel to prevent water spots.

  2. 2

    Place a plate on the table. Fold a cloth napkin into a rectangle or triangle and place it in the centre of the plate.

  3. 3

    Place the teacup on the saucer and position it behind and to the right of the plate, with the handle pointing toward the right.

  4. 4

    Place your fork to the left side of the plate.

  5. 5

    Place a sharp knife on the right side of the plate, with the blade facing in toward the plate. Then place the butter knife next to the sharp knife, blade toward the plate. Finally, place the spoon to the right of the butter knife.

  6. 6

    Place a small bowl for waste to the left of the place setting for used tea bags and lemons.

  7. 7

    Center a dessert plate above the main plate, toward the centre of the table. Lay the dessert spoon and fork horizontally between the dessert plate and the larger plate, with the bowl of the dessert spoon facing left and the tines of the fork facing right.

  8. 8

    Repeat Steps 2 through 7 for as many guests as you will have at your table.

  9. 9

    Place your teapot, serving dishes, sugar bowl and creamer in the centre of the table, where they will be accessible and can be passed around easily.

Tips and warnings

  • If you do not own a tea set, check with friends and family to see if you can borrow one.
  • Add decorations, such as flowers in a vase and taper candles in candle holders, that complement your table setting. Avoid flowers and candles with overwhelming scents; you want to be able to enjoy the aroma of the tea.

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