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Have a great 2016!!!


Afternoon tea – More on the language of tea

Dear readers and followers,

My anniversary post on the tea etiquette needed a visual explanation, and here it is, as a belated Christmas post. First of all, let’s Dame Maggie Smith say what all tea drinkers often think:


Muriel: I don’t care about any of that. Listen and learn, son. Tea is a herb that’s been dried out so to bring it back to life, you have to infuse it in boiling water. That is boiling water and everywhere I’ve been in this country, they slap down a cup of tepid nonsense, you know, with the tea bag lying beside it, which means I’ve got to go through the ridiculous business of dunking it in the lukewarm piss waiting for the slightest change of colour to occur. And at my age, I haven’t got the time.
Sonny: This is what I’m talking about.

Now, it may seem trivial to those who don’t drink tea, but it is not. In one of my recent trips, I flew with Alitalia; many things can be said of it, but I thought we could still rely on this company on service. I was being naïve, we cannot. Their idea of a sandwich is poor to say the least, but my biggest mistake was to ask for a cup of tea, because their idea is, exactly as Muriel sais, “lukewarm piss.” More to that, they didn’t even have the decency of giving the bag on a side, they apparently used the one bag for a whole kettle, obtaining a tepid amber water with no flavour of tea at all. So, to those who keep asking the same question every time, no, I don’t want my tea “undrinkably hot like you do it,” I want my tea properly done!

Switching to more interesting matters, just before Christmas I treated myself and my friend, who kindly stars in some pictures, to an afternoon tea to complete what started on our blog anniversary. Once again, this is not strictly related to languages and translation, but it definitely is part of the culture of the country that is currently my home, and it has a language in itself. I will leave you with a little video of the pictures I took and that prove what I described in the previous post.

(Music by Bensound)

As you can see, in the video we use tea strainers, because we have a teapot with the loose leaves inside. Of course, that is the way to do it. If instead you are going for an infuser, as I usually do for my cup of tea, you may want to carefully consider what better suits you. There are countless types, many extremely cute or funny, but do not forget that, in the end, they have the purpose of infusing your tea, therefore they need to allow the leaves to grow. Silicone is modern and colourful, but I personally do not like any crockery made of plastic of any kind, it is greasy to touch. Here you have pictures of three of the main kinds of infusers, and I have all of them, here in London or in Sardinia:


Number 3 is my favourite, it has the perfect size for a mug; it is easy to fill, empty, and clean without having to get dirty, and it allows you to also stir the tea and the milk as if it were a teaspoon (yes, I usually leave it in infusion and pour the milk, shame on me!) Number 1 usually has too big holes and too much of the tea end up in the cup, and you also have to have tea pouring through your fingers while you unscrew and empty it, which I find extremely annoying. Number 2 is a good compromise if you like your infuser to disappear in the cup but without having your cup full of leaves and without having to have a tea bath for your fingers afterwards. Now that I went home for the festive season, my best friend received me with this cutie, and I had to try it at least:


Now, it is almost time to have a tea again, will you join me? Just, don’t forget: Keep being naughty, Knotty surely will!!!

Season’s greetings

Knotty’s best wishes of happiness for this season and every other day on Earth. The promised post has been postponed, but we will be back soon! 

Keep being naughty, we won’t tell Santa!!!


Learning Italian vocabulary with Knotty Translations – Futuro semplice part 2

Dear readers and followers,

We are back after the party for the first anniversary of Knotty Translations This week, more about the simple future and some exceptions. I am publishing the video this week and a written post on culture and the language of tea next week because I wanted that to be the Christmas post. Therefore, next week the day will be Thursday to respect the tradition of a post on Christmas Eve. For this week, some exceptions on the conjugation of verbs in the future tense.

We will see the case of avere, but more verbs that follow that rule are: Cadere (to fall,) potere (to can,) dovere (to must, to have to,) vedere (to see.)

One exception is the verb Vivere (to live) in which the stress does not fall on the desinence but it still works in the same way: Vivere -> io vivrò.

Special cases are those in which the r doubles:

Volere (to want) -> io volrò -> io vorrò

Tenere (to keep) -> io tenrò -> io terrò

Bere (to drink) -> io berrò.

For this week it is all, keep being naughty, Knotty surely will!!!

Learning Italian vocabulary with Knotty Translations – Futuro semplice part 1

Dear readers and followers,

We are back with our videos after a while. As announced, the videos will be published every fortnight, but last time there has been an exception, with a written post on vocabulary. You can find it here.

This week we start introducing the simple future tense and we need to remember to always write the stress on the Italian words that end in a stressed vowel (parole tronche) to avoid funny things such as the one that I tweeted some days ago and that you can find here.

Enjoy and share the video and do not forget to leave your suggestions and feedback!

Also, keep being naughty, Knotty surely will!!!


Black Friday, Green Monday, and the rest of the rainbow of shopping madness

Dear readers and followers,

December has just started, Christmas is still quite far away, but we have already had our dose of mad shopping and there is plenty more to come, and they have names that make you lose your wish to enter a shop ever again. Do you know when the special days dedicated to offers and shopping are and what they are called. Would you like to know so you can avoid them because people shopping seriously annoy you? Welcome to my world, let us see them briefly. If you are about my age, you will remember when the sales were price reductions starting the day after the Epiphany, that is 7 January, and lasting until the end of February to start again in July for other two months. It does not work like that anymore, the beginning of the new millennium brought constant sales with special days in which the products are incredibly cheap.

The most known may be Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. In the States (but now also in Europe, where it does not make any sense because we do not celebrate Thanksgiving,) the fourth Thursday of November is Thanksgiving; the day after marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping and, despite the fact that is not an official holiday, it is a day off work for several working categories in some states, which makes it possible to have a long weekend of shopping right before December starts. The name Black Friday seems to mean that the shop would finally start making profit and their accounts would switch from red to black. We are recently expanding the event to the whole weekend and more.

Cyber Monday is the Monday after the Black Friday weekend and is dedicated to online shopping since ten years. It was created by Shop.org, while eBay created Green Monday, usually the second Monday of December but, in general, at least ten days before Christmas.

Free Shipping Day is the third Monday of December and was created some years after the previous ones with the objective of expanding the online shopping season. It is also typically American because it is based on free shipping in continental US, but it is now expanding very fast.

Super Saturday, also called Panic Saturday, is the last Saturday before Christmas and has, once again, been created to push Christmas sales when time is almost over. Another horrible day is Boxing Day, the day after Christmas in which people queue outside the shopping centres starting in the first hours of the morning, that is when is still night, just to have some discounts. To avoid that sad situation, now the sales last the whole week, not only on 26, but the nonsensical queues don’t seem to have changed much. The name of Boxing day comes from the boxes that the workers would receive from their employers the day after Christmas.

Do you think you have heard everything? Well, there is also Singles’ Day. Created in 1993, the 11 November to be precise, is also called Bachelors’ Day and started in China, not in the US, for once, to celebrate the pride of young Chinese people to be single. The date was chosen because 11/11 reminds of individuals standing alone; in fact, the Chinese name translates as “bare sticks holiday.” Started as a festival, this day is now a huge day of online shopping so, maybe, this young people may be proud, but they do not struck me as happy in being single!

Do you think all hope is lost in our consumeristic society? I would say yes, but we still pretend we care and in 2012 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation created Giving Tuesday as a response to consumerism. In this day, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, money is raised to help selected charities. It seems just another empty day to show the world that we care as if donations and charitable work could be worth more if done in that special day despite the rest of the year wasting and spending, instead of doing a simple, silent good action whenever we feel like, but then, this is just me being cynic, you know me. Moralism is not the point of this post, the aim is to clarify all the names that we hear out there and push us to buy, or they try at least. I hope you have a clearer idea now.

Don’t forget: Keep being naughty, Knotty surely will!!!

“Islamico”, “rifugiato” e altre parole che usiamo a sproposito – by Learning Italian vocabulary with Knotty Translations

Cari lettori e seguitori,

Questa settimana un post un po’ sui generis sul vocabolario italiano, ma mi sembra necessario viste certe oscenità che si sentono e leggono. Oggi impariamo la differenza tra le parole “emigrato”, “rifugiato” e “profugo” per poi passare a quella tra “islamico”, “islamista” e “fondamentalista islamico” e a un breve ripasso di linguistica generale. Mi servirò delle definizioni del Vocabolario Treccani. Iniziamo.

emigrato agg. e s. m. (f. -a) [part. pass. di emigrare]. – Che o chi è espatriato, temporaneamente o definitivamente, per ragioni di lavoro: i connazionali e.; notizie dagli e.; le rimesse degli e., i risparmî che essi mandano alla famiglia di origine; e. politici, coloro che hanno lasciato la patria per ragioni politiche.

rifugiato s. m. (f. -a) [part. pass. di rifugiarsi, per traduz. del fr. réfugié]. – R. politico, o semplicem. rifugiato, individuo che, già appartenente per cittadinanza a uno stato, è accolto, in seguito a vicende politiche, nel territorio di un altro stato e diviene oggetto di norme internazionali intese ad assicurarne la protezione (con accezione più estesa, il termine è riferito anche a profughi per motivi religiosi: per es., i r. ugonotti in Olanda). In partic., r. ambientali, quelli che hanno dovuto abbandonare il proprio paese in conseguenza di una catastrofe naturale o di eventi ambientali di particolare gravità; r. nazionali, cittadini di uno stato provenienti da regioni sottoposte a un regime politico che essi non considerano come definitivo: l’espressione è stata usata per i cittadini tedeschi della Germania orientale trasferitisi, in seguito ai rivolgimenti territoriali succeduti alla seconda guerra mondiale (e prima del mutamento di regime avvenuto nel 1989), nella Germania occidentale.

pròfugo s. m. (f. -a) e agg. [dal lat. profŭgus, der. di profugĕre «cercare scampo», comp. di pro-1 e fugĕre «fuggire»] (pl. m. -ghi). – Persona costretta ad abbandonare la sua terra, il suo paese, la sua patria in seguito a eventi bellici, a persecuzioni politiche o razziali, oppure a cataclismi come eruzioni vulcaniche, terremoti, alluvioni, ecc. (in questi ultimi casi è oggi più com. il termine sfollato): il p. Enea; i p. del Veneto nella prima guerra mondiale; dalla capitale si irradiavano per tutto il paese torme di p., senza pane e senza tetto, terrificati dalle rappresaglie (P. Levi); i p. della Dalmazia e Venezia Giulia, durante e dopo la seconda guerra mondiale; le famiglie p. del Polesine, del Belice, del Friuli; accogliere, assistere i p.; con uso più largo nel linguaggio poetico: dove or io vi seguirò, se il Fato Ah da gran giorni omai profughe in terra Alla Grecia vi tolse? (Foscolo, alle Grazie). Per campo profughi, v. campo, n. 3 c.

È evidente che, in alcuni casi, i termini si sovrappongano, in particolare quando sono seguiti da una qualche specificazione; è il caso di “emigrato politico”, che sembra avvicinarsi a rifugiato. A grandi linee, emigrato è chiunque si trasferisca in un altro paese per motivi di lavoro; rifugiato è chi è costretto a lasciare il proprio paese per timore a rappresaglie politiche o religiose ed è protetto dalle norme internazionali; profugo è chi si sposta per gli stessi motivi dei rifugiati, ma non ha le caratteristiche per essere protetto dalle leggi internazionali. Per una spiegazione più esaustiva della differenza tra gli ultimi due termini, potete consultare quest’articolo dell’Enciclopedia Treccani.

Un concetto collegato, ma che implica un obbligo imposto dallo stato, è quello dell’esilio:

eṡìlio (o eṡìglio; ant. essìlio) s. m. [dal lat. exsilium, der. di exsul «esule»]. – 1.Pena limitativa della libertà personale, che consiste nell’allontanamento del cittadino dalla patria; può essere temporaneo o a vita, e ha carattere di stabilità per tutto il tempo che dura la pena: condannare all’e.; mandare, cacciare in e.; minacciare, revocare l’e.; patire l’e.; L’essilio che m’è dato, onor mi tegno (Dante). Il termine può indicare anche il volontario abbandono della patria, per sottrarsi a una persecuzione, a violenze civili o politiche, o per altri motivi: l’e. di Carlo Alberto; scelse l’e. piuttosto che sottostare alla tirannide.

Queste definizioni, come si può vedere chiaramente, sono indipendenti dai concetti di religione e razza, nel senso che esistono emigrati, rifugiati e profughi di tutte le fedi e razze, e la situazione di questi gruppi dipende dalla vicende economiche, politiche ma anche ambientali dei loro paesi in un momento dato. Non ha quindi nessun senso parlare di profughi e musulmani come di sinonimi solo perché i paesi a maggioranza musulmana dell’Africa e del Medio Oriente sono quelli da cui, attualmente, partono i profughi che arrivano in Europa. Ma vediamo cosa significano i termini legati alla religione islamica che spesso usiamo a sproposito.

musulmano (o mussulmano) agg. e s. m. [dall’arabo-pers. muslimān, plur. di muslim «aderente all’Islam»]. 1. agg. Di ciò che appartiene alla religione, alla civiltà, al pensiero islamici: le dottrine m.; la cultura m.; usi e credenze musulmane.

islàmico agg. [der. di islam] (pl. m. -ci). – Dell’Islam: religione i., cultura i.; più genericam., che appartiene all’islamismo, inteso non solo come religione ma come sistema politico, sociale e culturale: popolazioni i.; il mondo i.; la civiltà islamica. Anche come sost., seguace dell’islamismo.

islamista s. m. e f. [der. di islam] (pl. m. -i). – 1. Studioso dell’islamismo. 2. Sostenitore (anche fanatico) dell’islamismo come unica religione; fondamentalista islamico.

Sembrerebbe quindi che musulmano e islamico, se usati come aggettivi, siano sinonimi e si debbano usare per indicare qualcosa relativa all’islamismo. Islamista, invece, è un sostantivo che si riferisce a una persona che studia o che sostiene l’islamismo. Questa parola, purtroppo, viene usata sempre più spesso come sinonimo di fondamentalista islamico, significato che non gli apparteneva in origine. Questi termini, come si può vedere, sono neutri, non sono negativi né denigratori, così come non lo sono “cristiano” o “ortodosso”, semplicemente indicano qualcosa di riferito a una religione. I termini assumono connotazioni negative quando li associamo ad altri sostantivi o aggettivi. “Fondamentalista islamico” è uno dei tanti esempi, ma non dobbiamo farci ingannare, “islamico” non è l’abbreviatura di “fondamentalista islamico”, sono due concetti diversi. Per capirci, è come se dicessimo che “cattolica” e “Inquisizione cattolica” sono sinonimi: non lo sono. A me, in quanto cattolica, non piace che si pensi che io metto al rogo chi non condivide la mia fede solo perché l’Inquisizione lo faceva; allo stesso modo, agli islamici non piace che li si associ a un gruppo limitato di criminali.

Vediamola dal punto di vista linguistico partendo dai concetti di iperonimo e iponimo. Sempre secondo le definizioni Treccani:

iperònimo agg. e s. m. [comp. di iper- e -onimo, coniato in contrapp. a iponimo]. – In linguistica, termine indicante un’unità lessicale di significato più generico ed esteso rispetto ad una o più altre unità lessicali che sono in essa incluse (per es., fiore è iperonimo, ossia «superordinato», rispetto a rosa, viola, garofano); è quindi l’inverso di iponimo e corrisponde a quello che da altri linguisti è talora chiamato arcilessema o archilessema.

ipònimo agg. e s. m. [comp. di ipo- e -onimo, sul modello di sinonimo]. – In linguistica (e più in partic. in semantica), è così definita una unità lessicale la cui estensione sia minore rispetto ad altra, della stessa classe ma di significato più generico, che la comprende: per es., cavallo, rosa, motocicletta si dicono «iponimi» rispetto a animale, fiore, veicolo che sono ad essi «superordinati» (v. iperonimo).

L’esempio più tipico quando si studia linguistica è, appunto quello di fiore e rosa: fiore è l’iperonimo, o superordinato, mentre rosa l’iponimo, il che significa che tutte le rose sono fiori ma non tutti i fiori sono rose. Graficamente, possiamo rappresentarlo così:1

Nel nostro discorso, “islamico” è il termine iperonimo o superordinato, quello con un significato più generico e che ingloba unità lessicali più limitate. La locuzione “fondamentalista islamico” è iponima di islamico, e ce lo dice anche solo il fatto che include il termine ma lo specifica e lo riduce.2Non voglio entrare in merito alle idee espresse spesso coscientemente tramite l’uso di un termine o l’altro ma, nel caso si trattasse di confusione o disconoscimento, ora spero le differenze siano più chiare.

Don’t forget, keep being naughty, Knotty surely will!!!

The tea etiquette – An anniversary post

Dear readers and followers,

My beloved creature, Une belle infidèle!, is three years old, and I thought that what better way to celebrate it than with a proper Afternoon tea? You all know that I am based in London, but that is not all, I am a huge tea lover, and long before moving here my whole being would cringe at the sight of tea served in Italy. Let us then plunge into the foreign traditions and learn how to serve a proper Afternoon tea because, after all, if Italians do not want foreigners to teach us how to cook pasta, why should we assume we know more than the Britons when it comes to tea?

First of all, Tea O’Clock is 4 pm, not 5 as we think in Italy. Of course, with the time difference it becomes 5 for us, but not in Albion. To avoid problems, nonetheless, be assured that an Afternoon Tea is acceptable from 3 to 5 o’clock, 2 to 6 according to some people. Its purpose was to calm the stomach requests between lunch and dinner. If you are familiar with Downton Abbey, you will have seen the tea served in the library on small tables; for that reason, it may be called “small tea.” The now widespread name of “high tea” seems to be wrong and to recall the lower classes; the servants, in fact, would have their tea after the family, as we always see in the series, and they would have it on a high table, hence the high in the name.

Small tea

High tea

What is going to accompany the tea?

That may depend: Sandwiches, scones, cakes, or all the above. Two things seem to be a must: Scones should always be there and cupcakes should never be there! If all the food is included, the order should be sandwiches first, then scones, and cakes at the end. The sandwiches have a long tradition also in literature, as we will see soon, but some aspects must be clearly stated here: no crust, please (as if that needs any explanation;) no huge portions; small triangles, rectangles, or squares (especially if the Royal family is invited.) Why so much talking of cucumber sandwiches everywhere? Because they became the favourite of the Victorian aristocracy who could afford to have a meal with low nutritional value. Oscar Wilde perfectly depicted the emptiness of that period in The importance of being Earnest where he repeatedly named the cucumber sandwiches as the ones especially prepared for Lady Blacknell, the one that represents the aristocracy and the nonsensical social rules of that period. Here you have two extracts of Act I of the play from the web:

ALGERNON   I really don’t see anything romantic in proposing. It is very romantic to be in love. But there is nothing romantic about a definite proposal. Why, one may be accepted. One usually is, I believe. Then the excitement is all over. The very essence of romance is uncertainty. If ever I get married, I’ll certainly try to forget the fact.

JACK  I have no doubt about that, dear Algy. The Divorce Court was specially invented for people whose memories are so curiously constituted.

ALGERNON   Oh! there is no use speculating on that subject. Divorces are made in Heaven –

[JACK puts out his hand to take a sandwich. ALGERNON at once interferes.]

Please don’t touch the cucumber sandwiches. They are ordered specially for Aunt Augusta.

[Takes one and eats it].

JACK  Well, you have been eating them all the time.

ALGERNON   That is quite a different matter. She is my aunt.

[Takes plate from below.]

Have some bread and butter. The bread and butter is for Gwendolen. Gwendolen is devoted to bread and butter.

JACK  [Advancing to table and helping himself.]

And very good bread and butter it is too.

ALGERNON   Well, my dear fellow, you need not eat as if you were going to eat it all. You behave as if you were married to her already. You are not married to her already, and I don’t think you ever will be.

JACK  Why on earth do you say that?

ALGERNON   Well, in the first place girls never marry the men they flirt with. Girls don’t think it right.

JACK  Oh, that is nonsense!

ALGERNON   It isn’t. It is a great truth. It accounts for the extraordinary number of bachelors that one sees all over the place. In the second place, I don’t give my consent.

JACK  Your consent!

ALGERNON   My dear fellow, Gwendolen is my first cousin. And before I allow you to marry her, you will have to clear up the whole question of Cecily.

[Rings bell.]

JACK  Cecily! What on earth do you mean? What do you mean, Algy, by Cecily! I don’t know any one of the name of Cecily.


LADY BRACKNELL   I’m sorry if we are a little late, Algernon, but I was obliged to call on dear Lady Harbury. I hadn’t been there since her poor husband’s death. I never saw a woman so altered; she looks quite twenty years younger. And now I’ll have a cup of tea, and one of those nice cucumber sandwiches you promised me.

ALGERNON   Certainly, Aunt Augusta.

[Goes over to tea-table.]

LADY BRACKNELL   Won’t you come and sit here, Gwendolen?

GWENDOLEN           Thanks, mamma, I’m quite comfortable where I am.

ALGERNON   [Picking up empty plate in horror.]

Good heavens! Lane! Why are there no cucumber sandwiches? I ordered them specially.

LANE  [Gravely.]

There were no cucumbers in the market this morning, sir. I went down twice.

ALGERNON   No cucumbers!

LANE  No, sir. Not even for ready money.

ALGERNON   That will do, Lane, thank you.

LANE  Thank you, sir.

[LANE Goes out.]

ALGERNON   I am greatly distressed, Aunt Augusta, about there being no cucumbers, not even for ready money.

LADY BRACKNELL   It really makes no matter, Algernon. I had some crumpets with Lady Harbury, who seems to me to be living entirely for pleasure now.

ALGERNON   I hear her hair has turned quite gold from grief.

LADY BRACKNELL   It certainly has changed its colour. From what cause I, of course, cannot say.

[ALGERNON crosses and hands tea.]


Going back to the food of the Afternoon Tea, the scones are served with cream and preserves, usually strawberry jam; from this, comes the other name of the Afternoon tea, which is Cream Tea. There is a lot of talking about how to eat the scones, but it usually is a matter of preferences with some absolute dont’s: The scones can be cut in half with a knife but it is not the best choice; if it is fresh and of good quality, a scone should easily break in the middle, and that is preferable; you can cut little pieces and top them with cream and jam, or cover the whole half, but do not put the two halves back together after, this is not the time for sandwiches anymore!

Cream or jam, what goes first?

It is your choice and the only suggestions depend on whether you follow what they say in Cornwall or Devonshire: Cornish people say that jam goes first, while Devonians prefer their clotted cream to melt on the warm scone and top it with jam. I had my first proper Cream Tea in Devonshire and I still put the jam first because I prefer the cream to keep it original texture. Actually, I had it in Victoria, Australia, before, but that is a shameful stain in my career; I didn’t know the rituals of tea and I fell for the call of cream even if that was scheduled at 11 am (I have so much more to tell about that, but that calls for a whole new post!) So far, we have talked about finger food, definitely no cutlery for the sandwiches and just a knife to spread the cream and jam for the scones. About the cakes, there is no specific selection, but they should be small, easy to eat with the fingers or a small fork. I have already said NO CUPCAKES, although muffins were included in the old days. One thing is sure: Do not plunge your food into the tea! I will share this image that I have taken from Bettys’ website not because I know the place but because it seems to me to properly represent the food of an afternoon tea:


Let’s now talk about the centre of this post: The tea. We live in a world in which even common sense seems to be lost in drinking tea. Tea is an infusion, therefore its strength comes from the length of time that the leaves are left in infusion, fairly obvious! That is what makes it different from coffee, which is brewed with hot water but not left in infusion; the strength of coffee comes from different factors (I am talking here about an espresso, because then the addition of milk vary strength and flavour) such as the amount of coffee, the coarseness of the powder, the pressing of the powder, and so on. I am not a coffee lover, I am not even a coffee drinker, but I have been trained as a barista, therefore I know some stuff about coffee as well, unfortunately. So, for a coffee you put as many shots of coffee as you need it strong, but do not forget that the caffeine comes out at the end, therefore, to stop the machine before its time means that you may be cutting on caffeine. Tea is different, to make tea stronger, you leave it in infusion longer, you do not put two teabags in a cup, that is a disgrace that I have seen in Starbucks and that has no description. Anyway, we are not talking about tea bags now. The time of infusion depends on the type of tea and on your taste, but it usually ranges between 3 and 6 minutes; usually, loose leaves are more delicate. There are several infusers, but you should always remember to leave space for the leaves to expand with the water. It is time for some vital questions now:

Milk yes or no? Milk first or after?

Milk yes I would say, but it also depends on the tea. Milk goes well with most black teas, although some people prefer citrus-flavoured teas without milk. If you like lemon, apart from receiving a frowned look from me (I can eat lemons, but I don’t like lemon-flavoured things,) you may take some aspects into consideration: Black teas go well with lemon as well, so they say, but not blends such as Earl Grey and Lady Grey, which already have citric in it and you would alter the taste; never pour the tea on top of the slice of lemon, again for the same reason; never squeeze the lemon in the tea, the flavour and the essential oils should release while infusing; the slices should be thin, the cloves should stay in, and the slice should not go on the saucer, neither before nor after going into the cup.

Milk after. Tea should always be the first thing in the cup to allow you to appreciate the strength and decide on the amount of milk. The old story of milk going in first to avoid cracking the cup is not completely correct. China cups would not crack with hot tea, that would only happen to lower quality crockery in the old days, but it is unlikely now that almost all the kitchenware is microwave and dishwasher safe. Definitely never milk before with take-away tea, that is basically watery milk with a tea bag inside and the blend will not infuse correctly or at all; personal advice, especially in a take-away cup, always take the milk separately.

If you like sugar, preferably cubes to avoid the little crumbles that fall from a teaspoon. Also, leave the cube to dissolve and then stir. In any case, do not forget that sugar modifies the taste of the beverage and it is not always good for your body. As with other beverages, you may use honey to sweeten your tea, but that is an absolute no for me. Not only I hate honey, but its flavour is too strong and specific and it would adulterate the tea killing the taste completely, it is healthier than sugar, but you will end up not drinking tea that doesn’t taste like tea anymore.

How to stir?

Never circular motions. The handle of your cup should be at four, imagining the cup in front of you as a clock, the teaspoon inside should stay at six and the motion should be 6-12, 6-12, never banging the sides of the cup. When finished stirring, a gentle flick of the teaspoon on top of the cup and the spoon goes on the saucer behind (never in front) of the cup, with the handle also at four o’clock as for the cup. Do not leave the teaspoon in the cup!

How to hold the cup and sip the tea?

If standing, hold the saucer in the palm of one hand and raise the cup with the other; if sitting, the saucer stays on the table. The index finger goes in the handle and the thumb closes the grip, the middle finger goes under the handle to secure the grip, and the rest of the fingers follow the curve. Do not raise the little finger!

Now, some extra details to make you a perfect host: For a strong tea, fill 3/4 of the cup with tea to leave space for the milk and avoid spilling; for a weak tea, pour half cup to also allow space for more hot water.

That said, when at home, I drink my tea very strong, I leave the infuser in the cup until I finish the tea, and I have it in a huge Tigger mug. Rules are there to be broken, but you need to know them if you want to break them!


If you want to know more about tea etiquette, here are some links I used to inspire this post apart from my personal knowledge: 1, 2, 3, and 4; you could also try one of the several menus offered by tea rooms and hotels; some of them are not too adulterate to please tourists and they also offer a written decalogue of what is socially acceptable. Café Royal in London, the place where Oscar Wilde loved to have his tea and to spend his evenings, also offers an afternoon tea in the room dedicated to the great writer. If you are visiting London and want to have a different experience, you could try some of the peculiar ideas offered by the city: The Afternoon Tea bus tour is a way to combine a relaxed tourist tour with a warm cup, and Time Out  also offers some unconventional menus and places that you may be interested in. Whatever your plans are, do not forget that the tea etiquette also includes a dress code that has not been treated here because it is often not required anymore due to the huge number of tourists that want to have this experience, but if you want to book an afternoon tea in a venue, you may also want to check the dress code to avoid being left outside.

Funny fact: When Queen Elizabeth visited Rome in 2000, the Italian press made a big deal about sharing a huge amount of gossip (as usual in Italy when the Windsor family is concerned,) and it was said that the monarch brought her own teapot because she would never travel without it and risk to jeopardise her tea routine. There is nonetheless no official information about that.

Now, before you enjoy your tea, don’t forget: keep being naughty, Knotty surely will!!! Cheers to Une belle infidèle!

Learning Italian vocabulary with Knotty Translations – Nomi non numerabili

Dear readers and followers,

Here you have a new video of the series. Today we talk about uncountable nouns in Italian. As announced on the video, there will be a change in the schedule now that we have a less pressing list of subjects to describe: The videos will be published every fortnight. Please keep sharing and commenting, and enjoy this lessons!