You might be asking yourself, what is the actual difference between High Tea and Afternoon Tea? Is there a Low Tea? Does it matter? Well let’s take a look!
First off, Tea is classically served between 3:30pm and 6:00pm in the afternoon. It all began when Anna, Duchess of Bedford, felt a “sinking feeling” and asked for cakes to be served with a pot of tea. The time between dinner and lunch was just so far, so why not have cake for a snack? If I was a duchess, I’d be doing that too! And because of her close friendship with Queen Victoria, the idea of tea and cake became very popular amongst aristocratic circles in the 17th century. It was originally called Low Tea, as your company would often sit in low chairs in elegant drawing rooms while tea and cakes were served to you.
High Tea became popular about another 2 centuries later as builders and factory workers found themselves returning home very hungry in the early evening. And because they didn’t have anyone serving them (poor souls!) they would place everything on the table at once, from cold meats and pies to toasted tea cakes and newly churned butter. This buffet of foods would then tide them over until a late dinner of something simple like a sandwich.
An article in the Daily Telegraph of 1893 describes it perfectly: “A well-understood ‘high tea’ should have cold roast beef at the top of the table, a cold Yorkshire pie at the bottom, a mighty ham in the middle. The side dishes will comprise soused mackerel, pickled salmon (in due season), sausages and potatoes etc., etc. Rivers of tea, coffee and ale, with dry and buttered toast, sally-luns, scones, muffins and crumpets, jams and marmalade.”
Now, just by looking at the table, you should be able to tell what kind of tea you’ve arrived at. Typically Afternoon Tea has fine china cups and saucers and is served between 3:30pm and 6:00pm, while High Tea is served much closer to 6:00pm and uses mugs and a large brown teapot, and honestly with a much stronger tea!
But does it really matter? Afternoon Tea is served between lunch and dinner, but it’s not vital to your survival, whereas High Tea is a necessary meal to keep you going. Because of very adaptability of tea, the lines between have been blurred considerably, but whatever you want to call it, who isn’t excited about a spot of tea and some dessert? The only thing you should clarify is when to show up so you’re not fashionably late and miss out on all the cakes.
At The Travelling Teacups we serve our afternoon tea at anytime! We accommodate your schedule and can be flexible to meet your needs – evenings, morning brunches or afternoons – the Travelling Teacups will be there to make your event special!