Question that I’m glad I have asked

Last year, I had a chance to learn about dining etiquette. I learn how to eat properly, and also some interesting chopstick movement. At the end of the lesson, my teacher asked me if I had any question. I try to think, and come up with one.

“What is the correct manner for serving tea to a guest?”

My teacher then explained that to served tea is one skill that you, kind of, should have or expected to have (or at least know). I explain to my teacher how I usually do it, and it’s basically already on the correct pathway, just need some fixes here and there lol. She then educate me with the overall knowledge and which step I should correct in my way of serving tea!

Things that you are going to need to serve tea:
• Tea, one that is in a bag or leaf format
• Teapot (plus it’s infuser/strainer if you use tea leaf)
• Tea cups
• Hot water
• Serving tray

Let’s start!

  1. Where to make and how to pour the tea.

First, you need to brew the tea in a teapot. The tea should be brewed in other room or area, for example: kitchen or pantry. Read the brewing instruction/recommendation on the product packaging and know how much person you should serve before hand in order to have correct amount of hot water you should have. Japanese tea cup capacity are 90~230ml, meanwhile regular tea cups capacity are 210~330ml.

The tea should be poured in equal way, one at the time, to deliver the same flavor across the cup instead of pouring one cup at a time. The reason why we do this, is to avoid different taste (bitterness/flavor) between cups in one serving, caused by tea that have been sitting for too long, by divide it correctly. 1/3 part for each cup for each time, is the recommended amount for pouring.

To pour the tea: hold the teapot handle, hold the teapot lid, and then pour into the cups. The order to pour each cup is clockwise, and then go back refill each cup in counterclockwise direction. Repeat until the tea cups became sufficiently full.

(So when there are three people you should served the tea, it’s 1st – 2nd – 3rd cup, and then 3rd – 2nd – 1st cup, and so on).

2. How to bring in the tea.

After the tea was poured to each cups, now it’s time to bring it in. Always use a tray. To avoid spilling the tea, bring the tea cups and the coaster/saucer separately (But bring it both with a tray at the same time).

Tea usually served at the beginning of occasion. If the door or entrance to the room that you are going to enter somehow closed, don’t forget to give a gentle knock first as you might interrupt.

Always look for a small table to set it up the tea instead of directly put your tray on the main table. And then bring the tea and it’s coaster or saucer and serve it to each person, each time. (This is the step that I should correct on how I deliver the tea btw, I thought it was okay to put the tray on the main table and to carry a set of tea and saucer set up right away from the pantry).

Always serve to one with higher position first (The head of household, the manager, etc). At this moment, even though you need to concentrate, don’t forget to smile at the guest lol.

When you finished the served and about to leave the room, don’t forget to excuse yourself and bow to the guest at the door / entrance before you leave. If the door was closed when you enter the room, don’t forget to close it again when you leave.

Extra note: Clean up.

You can clean up after the guest leaving the room.


I’m glad I asked my question and had a chance to study a beautiful manner. I think everyone can do it, but it does requires practices to make it flawless! If you have some free time, I encourage you to try it!

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