Posted in History & Literature

Tea Etiquette

The following are some etiquettes invented in Victorian England when the culture of tea drinking boomed:

  • Stir the tea with your spoon back and forth rather than swirling it
  • The spoon is placed behind the cup and never left in the cup
  • Hold the teacup by its handle between your thumb and fingers without curling your fingers in the hole
  • Holding out the little finger is not a traditional way of holding a teacup and can be considered rude
  • Never cradle the cup with your fingers, keep the saucer close to the cup instead
  • Sip instead of slurping
  • Never sip tea from the teaspoon
  • When drinking the tea, look into the teacup, never over it
  • When not drinking the tea, the cup should be placed on the saucer

The “pinky out” rule of fanciness likely came from a Roman tradition of a cultured person eating with three fingers, contrasting the commoner using five. It is likely that the “pinky out” rule is a misinterpretation of the “three finger” rule and a misguided show of elitism (or irony).

Of course, these “etiquettes” are merely arbitrary social rules imposed on what can be enjoyed however you like it, so unless you feel extra fancy, drink tea in whatever way you please.

Posted in History & Literature

The Courteous Country Of The East

The Chinese have always deemed Korea as the country of courteous and well-mannered people (동방예의지국, 東邦禮義之國). An ancient Chinese historical text called Shanhaijing(山海經) states that the people of China referred Korea as The Courteous Country Of The Rising Sun In The East or The Country Of Gentlemen. Confucius once said that it was his dream to even take a raft to Korea to learn more about etiquette. They always held Korean people in high regard, complimenting to no end with descriptions such as “righteous people (仁人)” and “they like to decline politely and do not fight”, or “as they do not steal from each other they do not keep doors locked, and the women are virtuous and trustworthy and not lewd”. In short, Korea was respected as a civilised, advanced culture throughout the ages.

Posted in History & Literature


Chivalry was a concept developed in medieval times and is defined as the noble qualities a knight was supposed to have, such as courage and a readiness to help the weak. It is characterised by the traits of gallantry, courtesy and honour. Nowadays, the concept of chivalry is largely confined to the mannerisms a gentleman should treat his lady with.

The following is a list of some gentlemanly acts any man should follow to pay due respect to their women:

  • Open doors and pull out chairs.
  • Be punctual, polite, keep calm and collected.
  • Put your coat or jacket around her on a cold day.
  • Be helpful, such as helping fix things and lifting heavy objects.
  • Cover her with your umbrella even if it means you get wetter.
  • Walk on the outside of the sidewalk. (This is derived from the tradition of Victorian England when people would throw excrements out the windows – the male would be more likely to be hit and thus carried an umbrella at all times)
  • Do not be thrift and know how to pay bills discreetly.
  • When conversing, listen to what she says and be attentive.
  • Be romantic, treat her with flowers, gifts and surprises.
  • Compliment her and accept her for the person she is.
  • Never make meaningless promises or go against your word.
  • Respect her.

Although most of this list is part of general etiquette, it is indubitably a crucial part in courting. In fact, as author John Bridges said, being a gentleman requires “a little logic, a bit of forethought and a great deal of consideration for others”. 

However, one cannot help wonder how long chivalry can last in this modern world. As chivalry was based on the idea that the strong should help and protect the weak, it essentially implies that women are weaker and in need of protection by the man. Ideologically speaking, this goes against the arguments of some feminists. Does this mean that those women do not expect chivalry from males?

Regardless, a true gentleman must act chivalrously and treat ladies with proper etiquette if they expect to be respected and loved in return.