Sunday, May 17, 2015

Etiquette and French Tea Customs

"le 5 o'clock," has by this time become thoroughly domesticated in Paris

French Tea Drinking

The afternoon tea habit, or as it is known to our French cousins, "le 5 o'clock," has by this time become thoroughly domesticated in Paris. It is not so long ago that the name was greeted with an indulgently superior smile as "so English you know," and therefore hardly worth the serious consideration of the Parisienne, whose duty was not to follow fashions, but to set them. Yet gradually the tea table began to make its appearance in Paris salons. 

Those who had been in the habit of paying calls where mere words were exchanged found it pleasant also to receive a dainty cup of tea. The visitor, when her turn as hostess came about, repeated the refreshment, and the fashion spread. But the foreign custom in passing into Parisian life is always, to a certain extent, transformed and Parisianised.
Tea gown, circa 1902

The case of afternoon tea was to transplant the little function from the home circle, making it a feature of more public life. Between 4 and 6 o'clock every afternoon, French society now betakes itself to certain well known tea rooms.

Visits must, of course, be paid at this season, but they are cut short so as not to interfere with the tea. A Parisian now says, "Come and have tea with me at Ritz's," whereas not so long ago she would have said. "Come and see me at home." 
                 – From The Los Angeles Herald, 1904

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