We Americans are notoriously clueless about the finer points of English tea. Just ask British royal biographer Hugo Vicker, who once struggled to school Stephen Colbert in proper tea-drinking etiquette — to memorably hilarious effect.
Trusting, perhaps, that the rest of us are slightly better students than the hysterically hapless Mr. Colbert, NPR’s The Salt blog tells us, in a recent post, how to tell our high tea from our afternoon tea from our elevenses, as well as what, exactly, we should do with our pinkies when we sip our tea. (Tuck them in! Sticking them out is not proper; it’s pretentious.)
Here’s the deal:
Elevenses: This late-morning work break (analogous, perhaps, to our morning coffee break here in the States) generally occurs at 11 a.m. (thus the name) and involves hot tea or coffee and a light snack, like a muffin, scone or biscuit. Even though the tradition probably didn’t start until sometime in the 20th century, elevenses is now considered an essential element of British culture.