Ask five people the best way to make a cup of tea, and you’ll get five different answers.
But when it comes to the proper way of doing things, who better to believe than a former royal butler?
Grant Harrold – who was the royal butler from 2005 to 2011, and still lives on the Prince of Wales’ Highgrove estate – recently appeared on BBC Three’s comedy Miss Holland, where he shared his four tea-making rules.
And if you’re one of those people who stirs their tea in a circular motion (which is surely everyone, right?), then we’re afraid that you’ve been doing it wrong all this time.
Instead, Harrold insists that the only way to stir is back and forth – not round and round!
His precise four-step method for the perfect cuppa is as follows…
1. Always pour from a teapot rather than making a single cup
2. Add milk AFTER the tea, never before
3. Stir back and forth – no circular motions
4. Sip, don’t slurp
So why the strict stirring rules? According to Harrold, we should never stir in a circular motion because it could cause the tea to slosh over the side of the cup. Or worse, produce that well-known clinking sound!
He told Business Insider, “If we stir in a circular motion we can create a storm in a tea cup and see the tea coming over the sides which we should never allow.
“If the spoon touches the sides it makes a clinging sound and we don’t want that at the afternoon tea table.”
He went on to warn that if you happen to be enjoying some biscuits or cakes with your tea, then there are more rules to consider.
“The royal way to eat a scone is to either cut it with a knife or break it with your hands and put the cream on first and then the jam.”
But there are exceptions to this rule, depending on where you might be. In Cornwall, for example, it’s jam first, then cream. But if your teatime is in Devon, then the cream goes first again.
Harrold says that if the Queen were to visit either of these spots for a cuppa, she would follow their cream-and-jam rules, “because that is the way they do it and she is a very diplomatic lady.”
He also debunked another tea-related myth – namely that the royals stick up their pinky finger while sipping. “I have never seen that happen once,” he said.
Maybe we’re more like them than we thought!