I found this on an abandoned/ deleted blog. It had been a site for a tea shop and restaurant in Australia. I like the information, so I have saved it.
History of High Tea
Lady Fredericks, the 7th Duchess of Bedford is widely credited as the first to establish the ritual of afternoon tea in the 17th Century to entertain her female guests while the gentlemen attended to the issues of politics and business.
The Duchess recorded details of hosting delightful tea parties to allow women an elegant social opportunity to meet and discuss issues that were usually unsuitable to discuss in the company of gentlemen.
Since this time, the practice of afternoon tea, or high tea as it came to be know in Britain, become a well loved tradition.
For the ladies of the English ‘leisure class’ high tea served a practical purpose of allowing ladies the pleasure of enjoying a delicate meal before attending the theatre or a club.
Today the practice of high tea continues with the modern ‘Lady of Leisure’ enjoying high tea at bridal and baby showers, gathering with best friends to celebrate hens and birthday parties and sampling delicious cakes, pastries and gourmet sandwiches wash down with finest teas at an elegant surrounding.
Pick up your cup and saucer together – holding the saucer in one hand and cup in the other. The best way to hold a tea cup is to slip your index finger through the handle, up to almost the first knuckle, then balance and secure the cup by placing your thumb on the top of the handle and allowing the bottom of the handle to rest on your middle finger. Hold the cup lightly, by the handle – your pinky doesn’t have to be extended (Contrary to popular belief, the ring and pinkie fingers should not be extended, but should rest by curving gently back toward your wrist). Hold the saucer under your cup while you sip your tea (lest you should spill or dribble).
When stirring your tea, don’t make noises by clinking the sides of the cup while stirring. Gently swish the tea back and forth being careful no to touch the sides of your cup if possible. Never leave your spoon in the cup and be sure not to sip your tea from the spoon either. After stirring, place your spoon quietly on the saucer, behind the cup, on the right hand side under the handle.
Milk is served with tea, not cream. Cream is too heavy and masks the taste of the tea. Although some pour their milk in the cup first, it is probably better to pour the milk in the tea after it is in the cup in order to get the correct amount.
When serving lemon with tea, use lemon slices, not wedges. Either provide a small fork or lemon fork for your guests, or have the tea server neatly place a slice in the tea cup after the tea has been poured. Be sure never to add lemon with milk since the lemon’s citric acid will cause the proteins in the milk to curdle.