High Tea, Low Tea, Afternoon Tea


High Tea, Low Tea, Afternoon Tea

Brits do love their cuppa regardless of the time of the day. Tea is so beloved that it lent its name to the name of a meal (see article: Why do people call dinner tea?) as well as to some variations of tea-centric meals.

Low Tea/ Afternoon Tea

The legend says that Afternoon Tea was started by Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford (3 September 1783 – 3 July 1857). At the time, there were only two meals: Mid morning breakfast and late dinner. Following the story, the Duchess was having a ‘sinking feeling’ in the late afternoon and as a solution she started having a pot of tea and a light snack in her boudoir in the afternoon. Later the Duchess decided to invite friends to join her in the sitting room where the food was served on low tables (coffee tables) placed next to sofas. Soon the idea spread and high society was sipping tea and eating nibbles in the afternoon.

Traditional Afternoon Tea (around 4pm) serves:

Loose tea brewed in a teapot
Scones with clotted cream and jam (known as a cream tea)
Sandwiches (cucumber, egg, smoked salmon, ham, fish paste)
Cakes and pastries (fruit cake, Victoria sponge)

At present people do not have Afternoon Tea due to working hours and go for a simpler version of tea and biscuits instead. However, they have Afternoon Tea as a birthday or weekend treat at one of many tea rooms or hotels where the food is served on a tiered stand.

You can find the most famous afternoon tea destinations below:





High Tea

Working class people had a meal around midday and then after work and it was called ‘high tea’ or ‘meat tea’. As the name suggests, it was served on a high table, a dining room table, at the end of the working day between 5pm and 7pm. It would serve cold meats (Sheppard’s pie, steak or kidney pie), fish (pickled salmon), vegetables (potatoes, onion cakes) cakes and sandwiches.Nowadays people eat their main meal in the evening and it is referred to as supper, dinner or tea.

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