Teaspoons played a very important part in the etiquette of tea drinking. The Prince de Broglie recorded how he was taught the complexities of etiquette while on a visit to England in 1782:
“I partook of most excellent tea and I should be even now still drinking it, I believe, if the Ambassador had not charitably notified me at the twelfth cup that I must put my spoon across it when I wished to finish with this sort of warm water. He said to me: it is almost as ill-bred to refuse a cup of tea when it is offered to you, as it would [be] indiscreet for the mistress of the house to propose a fresh one, when the ceremony of the spoon has notified her that we no longer wish to partake of it.”
This may have meant resting the spoon horizontally across the top of the cup or perhaps slanting it at an angle inside the cup.