image from art.com
“…The ideal hostess makes tea herself in the drawing-room. A table is equipped with spirit-lamp and shining kettle of silver, aluminium, brass, or copper, and dainty caddy, all laid ready upon a teacloth as fine and as elaborately embroidered as may suit the taste and means of the household. It gives one a feeling of perfect confidence to see this table laid in readiness, and to note that the preparations are complete, even to the little silver strainer which prevents the leaves from entering the cups.
At many such tables there are three or four infuser spoons for the use of those who like tea made in the cup. In these days of mal-digestion there are many who regard a teapot as a found of possible disaster, as, indeed, it sometimes is, when the tea is left so long upon the leaves as to extract all their tannin.
Hot cakes are served really hot, and freshly toasted, in the house of the perfect hostess. Late comers are not offered them in a discouraging condition, dried up and hardened round the edges by having been kept hot in the oven. The oven is no place for hot cakes. Small plates are left ready for such as like to eat these cakes by the aid of the pretty little knives and forks made expressly for use at tea. Some callers still prefer the saucer only, according to Victorian etiquette. Hot toast, brown all over and well buttered, is indispensable to a good tea in cold weather. In summer its place is taken by strawberries, cherries, peaches, nectarines, or whatever fruit may be in season. Fruit knives and forks are laid in a little heap ready for anyone choosing fruit
Sandwiches of various sorts and bread-and-butter, brown and white, are the indispensable portions of fare provided. Cakes, petits fours, and delicate litte sweet biscuits come next, and the thoughtful chatelaine will not neglect to provide the plain, dry biscuits to which so many of her friends are limited by medical advice, or by the counsels of their beauty doctor…”
Every Woman’s Encyclopedia, Vol III, ca 1910-12, available as a free download (one of a total of seven volumes) from the Internet Archive.