Queen Elizabeth

The old fashioned tradition that explains Queen Elizabeth’s peculiar tea habits


If you’re curious about how, exactly, Queen Elizabeth takes her tea, we’ve got some very interesting answers for you.

The only thing which is more British than a nice cup of tea is the queen herself.

While most of the royals are actually particular about their tea and the way in which it is served, they’re not tea snobs. The queen’s favourite tea is a pretty common one, but the discipline of preparing and serving it is where things get very specific. 

Back in the year 2018, Hello! had an interview with Grant Harrold, a former royal butler who served in Prince Charles’s household. Harrold told that the royals follow an old tradition: pouring hot tea first, followed by milk, not the other way around.

He also said that teabags could never be seen inside the palace! It’s traditional loose-leaf tea, brewed in a teapot, for the queen. “The Queen surely enjoys her Assam or her Earl Grey the traditional way. It is made with tea leaves in a teapot and poured into a fine bone china teacup. Queen Elizabeth also prefers to use a strainer.

Also read: The rule diners need to follow at Buckingham Palace.

He also cared to explain the reasoning behind the seemingly arbitrary requirement of pouring tea first and then adding milk. It’s a tradition that dates back to the 18th century and, apparently, has its roots in good old-fashioned aristocratic elitism.

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For many decades, the tradition for all classes was to pour milk into teacups first. This was so because most cups would crack when brought into contact with undiluted hot tea. However, when Josiah Spode developed his line of bone china cups, they became increasingly likeable for being resistant to that particular problem. The high-quality china was too expensive so only the wealthy and titled were able to shift to pouring tea first to show off their high-end china.

There’s even a very unique method to prepare a cup of tea for Queen Elizabeth, Harrold revealed: “Pour the tea into the cup from a teapot, add milk to the cup after the tea and never before, stir back and forth (never use a circular motion and never touch the sides). Lastly, you should always sip from the cup and never slurp.”

Also read: Who is Jackie Kennedy? Did she really bad-mouth Queen Elizabeth inside Buckingham Palace?

The queen apparently is quite particular about what specific tea she drinks most of the time. Former royal chef Darren McGrady told Taste of Home that her majesty drinks Twinings Earl Grey tea (with a bit of milk and no sugar). Reportedly, she even travels with a stash of her favourite tea so she can enjoy it far from home! The Twinings brand has been officially supplying the royal family with tea since 1837. For afternoon tea, she’s likely to have another cup of Earl Grey or, on occasion, a cup of Darjeeling. We’re not surprised at all that the queen is so particular about this very British tradition!

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