Tea Etiquette: 15 Do’s and Don’ts for a Perfect Cup

Tea is not just a beverage; it’s a ritual that has been cherished for centuries in cultures around the world. Whether you’re a seasoned tea enthusiast or just starting to explore the world of tea, observing proper tea etiquette can enhance your experience and that of those around you. Here are 15 do’s and don’ts to keep in mind:


  1. Use Fresh, Quality Tea: Start with good quality loose leaf tea or high-quality tea bags for the best flavor.
  2. Preheat Your Teapot or Cup: Warm your teapot or cup with hot water before brewing tea to maintain the temperature.
  3. Measure Properly: Use the correct amount of tea leaves for the amount of water used to ensure a balanced flavor.
  4. Use Filtered Water: Use filtered or spring water for brewing tea to avoid any impurities that might affect the taste.
  5. Steep Correctly: Follow the recommended steeping time for your tea type to avoid bitterness or weak flavor.
  6. Serve with Accompaniments: Offer accompaniments like milk, sugar, lemon, or honey for guests to customize their tea.
  7. Hold the Teacup Properly: Hold your teacup by the handle with your index finger extended, or use both hands if the cup is small.
  8. Sip Quietly: Sip your tea quietly without slurping to avoid noise and show respect for others.
  9. Use a Tea Coaster: Place your teacup on a coaster to protect surfaces from heat or stains.
  10. Thank Your Host: If someone serves you tea, thank them for their hospitality and compliment the tea if you enjoyed it.
  11. Respect Tea Culture: When visiting a place with its own tea culture, such as Japan or China, learn and respect their traditions.
  12. Enjoy the Moment: Take your time to savor the aroma, flavor, and experience of drinking tea.
  13. Engage in Conversation: Tea often brings people together, so engage in pleasant conversation while enjoying your tea.
  14. Dispose of Tea Leaves Properly: If you’re using loose leaf tea, dispose of the leaves in a compost bin or designated waste receptacle.
  15. Experiment and Explore: Don’t be afraid to try new teas and brewing methods to find what you enjoy most.


  1. Don’t Over-Steep Tea: Over-steeping can lead to bitterness, so follow the recommended steeping time.
  2. Don’t Use Boiling Water for Green Tea: Green tea is delicate and can become bitter with water that is too hot, so use water around 175°F (80°C).
  3. Don’t Stir Your Tea with a Spoon: Stirring your tea with a spoon can be seen as impolite, especially in formal settings.
  4. Don’t Clank Your Teacup: Avoid clinking your teacup against the saucer or stirring your tea loudly, as it can be disruptive.
  5. Don’t Reheat Tea: Reheating tea can alter its flavor and aroma, so it’s best to brew a fresh cup if needed.
  6. Don’t Add Lemon to Milk Tea: Adding lemon to tea with milk can cause the milk to curdle, so it’s best to avoid this combination.
  7. Don’t Leave the Teabag in Your Cup: Leaving the teabag in your cup can lead to over-steeping and a bitter taste.
  8. Don’t Hold Your Pinky Finger Out: Contrary to popular belief, holding your pinky finger out while drinking tea is not proper etiquette.
  9. Don’t Blow on Your Tea to Cool It: Blowing on your tea to cool it can be seen as impolite; instead, wait for it to cool naturally or use a spoon to stir.
  10. Don’t Interrupt Others: Wait for an appropriate break in conversation before speaking to avoid interrupting others.
  11. Don’t Talk About Unpleasant Topics: Keep the conversation light and positive while enjoying tea.
  12. Don’t Criticize the Tea: Even if you don’t enjoy the tea, it’s polite to refrain from criticizing it, especially if someone else prepared it.
  13. Don’t Forget to Thank Your Host: Always thank your host for the tea and hospitality before leaving.
  14. Don’t Take Too Long to Drink Your Tea: It’s best to enjoy your tea while it’s still warm and fresh.
  15. Don’t Waste Tea: Brew only as much tea as you will drink to avoid wasting tea leaves and water.

By following these do’s and don’ts, you can elevate your tea-drinking experience and show respect for the tea, the tradition, and those around you. So, next time you sit down for a cup of tea, remember these tips and enjoy the moment.