Tea or Etiquette Consultant

Tea Travels™….What is a Tea or Etiquette Consultant?

by Ellen Easton 2010  – All Rights Reserved



Check out more of Ellen Easton’s Tea Travels™ articles and recipes.

Learn about the History of English High Tea and more delicious Afternoon Tea Recipes.


What is a Tea or Etiquette Consultant?

It is summer and many have more leisure time to take classes or think of career changes.  Over the past two decades, many people have asked “how can I become a tea or etiquette consultant?” or stated that they had taken courses, either from the Internet, mail order or schools and were now diploma credentialed, certified consultants, but were still seeking my “how to” advice because they felt the courses were not to their satisfaction.

It pains me to see hard working people and hospitality venues spending money on programs filled with incorrect protocols, as it is not only a disservice to the client, but to the entire industry as a whole.


Buyer – Beware!

Just because a person or institution has a high profile, TV presence, books with pretty pictures, attends trade shows, or an attractive advertising campaign does not necessarily mean they are providing accurate information or are the best teachers.  I am continually astonished to witness, at times even from those calling themselves etiquette experts, the animosity that some exhibit towards those who do have good manners, going so far as to equate well mannered behavior as pretentious.  Social protocols are not a free for all.  There is nothing pretentious about good behavior or being considerate of others.

I am equally astonished to see historical references applied to the rules of etiquette and dining that, in fact, have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the evolution of the table.  The rules are borne from practical reasoning, not whimsy, nor to make others feel ill at ease.  There are actual reasons as to why a table is set in a particular fashion and service is conducted in a particular style.

I am beyond appalled that many fine dining establishments have taken to reinvent the table setting placements.  When I recently asked one five star hotel why the utensils were all out of order on the table, I was told by management they are doing so becaus “today, so many diners do not know how to use utensils.”  We just place them where they can pick them up.”  Oh gosh yes, bring me some smelling salts!

Before signing on for an expensive program, do your homework, consider the source and question the background and credentials from whence the information is provided.  Be wary of those using European titles, as very few Americans hold titles and none, to the best of my knowledge, are teaching etiquette.  It takes more than one to three days, marketing skills and a piece of paper to have real credentials.

A professional consultant’s responsibility is not without challenges, as it constitutes more than telling others what to do.  The information a consultant conveys is an accumulation of learning and knowledge, combined with lifetime experience.

It is wonderful when an establishment follows the guidance and a puzzlement when it is ignored by unfounded standards set by management.  Truth be told, I have one luxury client that will not serve a soup bowl on a plate because the plate costs too much money.

A consultant can be proud when a client follows the given advice.  However, once a consultant leaves the premise and no longer has a watchful eye, despite the lack of quality control the risk of blame runs high.  One can lead a horse to water, but cannot make it drink.

Biggest Mistakes to Avoid:

Napkin Placement – Napkins are never set to the right of a place setting.  Napkins are never placed on a chair~ not before, not during, not after a dining experience.

Bread and Butter Knife – The B & B knife with blade facing down, is placed horizontally across the top of the B & B plate.  The only exception when a B & B knife may be placed vertically on the right hand side of the plate is in a tightly set banquet room, but never if there is adequate space on the setting to be placed horizontally.

Spoons – Spoons are never left in a glass.  Spoons, after having been used, are placed on the side of a saucer or plate.  If a saucer or plate has not been provided, request that one be brought to the table.

Bowls of any kind – Are never place directly on a table.  Bowls are always served on a plate.  Serving bowls are placed on a trivet.  Reason: Hygiene. The server’s hands should never touch the bowl.

Table Service – One serves on the left and clears from the right.  Beverages are served and cleared on the right.  If staff is not able to serve from the left or clear from the right due to the physical set up of the table, say, “excuse me” and proceed in the most non-intrusive manner.  All service of all foods and beverages is conducted at the appropriate time for each course served, not in-between the courses.


For further etiquette tips see
Etiquette Faux Pas and Other Misconceptions About Afternoon Tea

Whether one is looking to supplement an income, start a new career or brush up on one’s personal skills, gather your information with caution.



TEA TRAVELS™ – Wishing You Happy TEA TRAVELS!™ Tea is the luxury everyone can afford!™ and Good $ense for $uccess are the trademarked property of Ellen Easton/ RED WAGON PRESS

Ellen Easton, author of Afternoon Tea~Tips, Terms and Traditions (RED WAGON PRESS), a lifestyle and etiquette industry leader, keynote speaker and product spokesperson, is a hospitality, design, and retail consultant whose clients have included The Waldorf=Astoria and Plaza Hotels.  Easton’s family traces their tea roots to the early 1800s, when ancestors first introduced tea plants from India and China to the Colony of Ceylon, thus building one of the largest and best cultivated teas estates on the island.


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72 pages of how to’s, 27 photos, history, etiquette and FAQ about afternoon tea, serving styles and more.  “Tea is the luxury everyone can afford!™”

64 pages, 21 color photos.  A complete holiday menu includes 25 easy to prepare recipes; theme teas, decorating and gift ideas; invitation template and secret sources.

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