Londoners are making their tea all wrong as traditional etiquette gets dunked

Anna Schaverien
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Don't use a strainer and you could end up in hot water
Don't use a strainer and you could end up in hot water (Source: Getty)

Londoners should be ashamed to call themselves tea-drinkers, a survey from armed forces charity SSAFA has found.

It turns out that our cultural city is chock-full of people who don’t even know the proper etiquette on how to stir a cup of tea, let alone what to serve with it.

Read more: Here's how to make the perfect cup of tea

If you’re feeling indignant and think you know exactly how to make a good cuppa, you might be surprised.

Causing a stir

If you stir a cup of tea in a circular motion, you’ll be left red-faced when you’re hobnobbing with members of high society.

You’re supposed to move a spoon back and forth from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock, according to etiquette authority Debrett’s.

Don’t worry if you didn’t know - apparently only seven per cent of us are stirring our tea the correct way according to the study of 6,000 people.

The secret to the perfect brew

In the secret to making the perfect cup of tea, only tea leaves will do.

Traditionalists will be disheartened to find out that two-thirds of Londoners rely on the lowly tea bag, and haven’t ever made a cup of tea with tea leaves. What’s more, three per cent of Londoners don’t even know what a tea strainer is. Oh, the horror.

What to serve with your cuppa

Apparently a slice of lemon should be also offered in addition to milk and sugar, who knew? Well, not many people, since 91 per cent of Londoners didn't have a clue.

Debrett’s tells us that biscuit dunking is a no-no, despite 72 per cent of us admitting we do it.

But surely the most shocking revelation is that three per cent of the city’s residents admitted to dipping a slice of toast into their precious brew.

Top of the biscuit league

When quizzed about the top choice biscuit, the rich tea was crowned king, with 17 per cent of the vote.

Just behind it at 16 per cent was the humble digestive.

The milk chocolate-covered digestive won BBC presenter Richard Osman’s World Cup of Biscuits 2017, but failed to top this league, coming in at third place.

London’s top 10 tea-dunking biscuits


Rich Tea

17 per cent



16 per cent


Milk-covered digestive

14 per cent



10 per cent


Chocolate-covered hobnob

8 per cent



Six per cent


Custard cream

Five per cent


Dark chocolate-covered digestive

Five per cent



Four per cent


Malted milk

Three per cent

The SSAFA commissioned the survey to tie into the launch of their fundraising campaign, the Big Brew Up, encouraging people to host tea parties to raise funds for members of the military community.

Tegan Jones, director of fundraising at SSAFA, said: “Although the results have shown we need to brush up on our tea-etiquette, it is great to know that London is still passionate about tea drinking."

Read more: Time for tea: Check out these Square Mile spots

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