If the lady makes tea in the drawing-room, which with small parties is generally the case, have the tea tray well dusted, and the teacups and saucers put on, one for each, with a teaspoon to each put on the near side, so as to face the person who makes the tea, with the teapot, cream jug, and slop basin on the off side; and let the tea caddy be put near.
If you have to wait at tea, that is, to hand it about to the company, you must have a small hand-waiter [tray]; if there is not one proper for the purpose, use the one with which you hand the glasses about at dinner.
When you take away the tea things, always take the urn off first, then put the tea caddy into its proper place, and then remove the tea things. Always have a cloth in your pocket to wipe the table with, in case it should be slopped, or crumbs of bread left on, and properly adjust the candles on the table.
Perhaps you may have to carry the tea and coffee upstairs to the company ready-made; if so, you must be careful not to slop the tea over the cups into the saucers; see also that you do not forget the spoons, sugar tongs, cream, or slop basin; have a teapot on the tray with hot water in it, in case any of the ladies’ tea should be too strong.
Your tray ought to be pretty large, so that you can put the bread and butter, sugar basin, or anything else upon it; take care to arrange them so, that the ladies may take the cups with ease, and hold the tray low enough for that purpose; if it will not hold enough to go once round, you must serve it as far as it will go, and then get more. If you have not cups and saucers enough, you must wait in the room till the company have done with some of them.
Be quick in taking up the tea when it is once poured out, that it may not get cold before the company have it, which is a subject of complaint almost to a proverb; you will easily know when they have done, by their putting the spoon in the teacup, or refusing it when you offer it to them.
If there should be a fire in the room, look at it before you leave the room.