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21 Things Americans Learned From An Afternoon Of High Tea

Wear stretchy pants.

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Erin and Leo, two Americans spending a week in London, decided to do the most English thing we could think of: an afternoon of high tea.

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We went to Fortnum & Mason, a really ~fancy~ department store in London that also has a truly beautiful tea room. This is what we learned:

1. It’s surprisingly OK to wear jeans to tea.

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We were a bit worried that "high tea" meant "fancy schmancy dress code," but several other people were indeed wearing casual clothes.

2. "Afternoon tea is quintessentially English," per what we read on the menu.

We felt fancy AF, to be honest.
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We felt fancy AF, to be honest.

3. You can apparently have alcohol at tea time.

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It's not a strictly tea-only deal. We really made a huge mistake not choosing this option.

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4. There is an ENTIRE MENU for tea.

And some teas are fancier than others. Kind of like...choosing between a Budweiser or a craft beer? (JK.)
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And some teas are fancier than others. Kind of like...choosing between a Budweiser or a craft beer? (JK.)

5. There are several different types of tea menus. And they are kind of confusing.

Afternoon tea? Savory afternoon tea? High tea? Each menu seemed to come with about a million things.
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Afternoon tea? Savory afternoon tea? High tea? Each menu seemed to come with about a million things.

6. Maybe avoid ordering the novelty teas, like the "Wedding Breakfast Blend" in honor of Prince William and Kate Middleton. It's embarrassing.

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And after you drink it, it means you're married! (OK, made that last part up...)

7. The tiers of cakes and goodies are so perfect, for a minute you think they almost look fake.

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Literally just like American Girl doll accessories.

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8. You start from the bottom of the tier, working your way up.

Savory first, THEN scones, THEN the smallest desserts ever.
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Savory first, THEN scones, THEN the smallest desserts ever.

9. You cannot pour your tea directly into the cup. Oops.

Please note the excess tea leaves at the bottom of my cup. You need to use that strainer thing. Steps.
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Please note the excess tea leaves at the bottom of my cup. You need to use that strainer thing. Steps.

10. It’s OK to take photos because literally everyone else is a tourist.

It would seem proper etiquette to keep one's phone stored for the duration of high tea, but a lot of people were snapping pics.
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It would seem proper etiquette to keep one's phone stored for the duration of high tea, but a lot of people were snapping pics.

11. Don’t go to teatime feeling extremely hungry, because you will eat way too many tiny things way too fast.

It's like...you have to be hungry but not STARVING. Pacing yourself is key.
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It's like...you have to be hungry but not STARVING. Pacing yourself is key.

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12. You should not order refills of sandwiches.

Don't let their tiny size deceive you...they WILL fill you up.
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Don't let their tiny size deceive you...they WILL fill you up.

13. Clotted cream is more like a butter than a cream.

"Clotted" is for what it does to your arteries?
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"Clotted" is for what it does to your arteries?

14. By the time you finish your second scone, you begin to question all of your life’s decisions.

And ask how you feel so impossibly full from such tiny foods.
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And ask how you feel so impossibly full from such tiny foods.

15. A fancy tea salon might employ a "tearista," like barista (but, you know, for tea).

I guess we were being helped by tearistas? They were very knowledgeable.
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I guess we were being helped by tearistas? They were very knowledgeable.

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16. You should save room for the cake cart.

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Cake is the last part of tea...if you can make it to that point.

17. If you try to finish your entire pot of tea, you’ll be spinning in caffeine circles soon after.

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That pot is A LOT of tea.

18. You will be tempted to steal the tiny servings of jam and pastries. Probably don’t?

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Those little jars are just too cute.

19. You will not know what this funky fork is for.

And you may never find out. But we used it to spread our clotted cream on our scones. We still don't know if this was correct.
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And you may never find out. But we used it to spread our clotted cream on our scones. We still don't know if this was correct.

20. Even if you’re obsessed with sweets, there will come a point where the thought of eating one more dessert will make you wanna die a little inside.

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21. Then you'll leave afternoon tea and realize that, while you don't regret everything you ate/drank, it's best to wear comfy clothes next time.

The jeans, with their buttons and zippers, were a huge mistake in hindsight. But it was worth every bite of those scones.
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The jeans, with their buttons and zippers, were a huge mistake in hindsight. But it was worth every bite of those scones.