Do you raise your pinky when you drink tea?

pinky ettiquetteYou’ve probably seen it plenty of times in movies or done it yourself when playing at being prim and proper – raising your pinky in the air while drinking your afternoon tea. But according to Miss Manners, raising your pinky went out of fashion a long time ago.

According to Miss Manners:

Even that perennially easy target, the pinkie in the air, has provocative implications having to do with international commerce and class strife.

The gesture dates from the 17th century, when tea began to be imported to England from China. It was so expensive that those who could afford it kept it locked up in so-called tea caddies. They drank it from Chinese teacups, which do not have handles but are held in the fingers. Because the thin cups transmitted heat from the tea, it was sensible to put as few fingers on them as necessary — hence the escaping little finger, and sometimes the ring and middle fingers as well.

This habit became a symbol of wealth, when few people could afford tea, let alone imported cups. It quickly progressed, along a path you will recognize, to becoming a symbol of pretentiousness. At that point, the pinkie in the air — no longer necessary because the West had developed teacups with handles — became bad manners.

Miss Manners is amazed that it is still cited, now that tea is one of the least expensive possible drinks available. She would be surprised if you had ever actually seen this gesture in real life.
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I’m not sure why Miss Manners has never seen anyone raise their pinky. A simple search on Flickr shows many people raising their pinky, even though it’s most likely in jest. But why does the pinky in the air continue to be seen as something wealthy people do when we’ve obviously have had tea cups with handles for hundreds of years now and tea is readily available in every grocery store? You’d think that the practice would have been forgotten over time. What do you think, is it really a faux pas to raise your pinky? Or is it all part of enjoying your afternoon tea?

Gift idea: Holiday / Advent Calendar of Tea

Okay, so this is not an original idea. I was in David’s Tea today and picked up one of their 24 Days of Tea Advent Calendar. It’s a great idea for an early Christmas gift for the tea lover in your life. They also had an 8 Days of Tea for Hanukka. Unfortunately both are no longer available online, and the 24 Days isn’t even listed anymore. BUT you can easily create your own, and one that you can use over and over again each year.

Here’s How:

  1. Find either a tea storage box or small wooden storage drawers in the appropriate number of days. For example, this 8 section bamboo tea storage box or this 25 drawer box.
  2. Decorate your calendar in the appropriate theme using paint, paper and stickers. For the tea caddy, you can cover each section with felt or foam that gets removed on the day. Make sure to number each section or drawer.
  3. Fill each drawer or section with a different tea. You can buy a tea sampler or, if you’re like me, you could fill it with tea from your own cabinet.
  4. VoilĂ ! You have a holiday tea calendar that you can use every year.