Tea Bag Etiquette (2023)

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When I order tea in a restaurant and get a bag, a pot of hot water, and an empty cup, I'm not sure where to dunk the bag. Also, when I'm served tea in a mug, what should I do with the bag afterward?

Tea may seem a lot more complicated than coffee, but you don't have to give up on Earl Grey. First of all, when your waiter brings you a pot of hot water, drop the tea bag in and wait for it to steep -- about three to five minutes. After you've poured yourself a cup, leave the bag in the pot.

If you're served a cup already filled with hot water, put the bag in right away. After steeping about three to five minutes, remove the bag with your spoon and hold it over the cup so it can drain, then place the bag on your saucer. When tea is served in a mug without a saucer, go ahead and ask for a small dish.

A couple of other tea-drinking pointers: Don't pick up the bag by its string and jiggle it, and don't wind the string around the bag while it's on your spoon and squeeze it dry.

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Peggy Post

Etiquette Expert

Peggy Post is a nationally recognized authority on etiquette, and an author and director of the Emily Post Institute. Some of Peggy's books include Emily Post's Wedding Planner for Mom; Emily's Magic Words, an illustrated book for toddlers; Teen Manners: From Malls to Meals to Messaging and Beyond; and the Spanish language edition of Excuse Me, But I Was Next... She writes a monthly column in Good Housekeeping magazine.

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