The usage of the term “afternoon tea” has become clouded over time. Somewhere along the lines, confusion has set in and this wonderful ritual is often and incorrectly referred to as high Tea. There are many types of “teas” and hopefully the following information will avoid any inaccuracies in the future.

When It All Began

Let’s take a step back in time to when it all began. Afternoon Tea evolved into what it is today by necessity. In the 1840s, the upper echelons of society would have their evening meal at 8 PM. This left ample opportunity for a twinge of hunger to make itself known. It was the Duchess of Bedford who first requested a small bite between lunch and dinner to be served to her in her room.

As time progressed, her friends joined her and the ceremony moved to the drawing room. As word spread, so did the custom of taking afternoon tea in the company of friends. Soon ladies were dressing in their finest and making it a social affair. The simple bite was transformed into the social event we now have come to know and love.

A pale blue teacup sits in the background as a cupcake sits in the foreground. The worlds There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as adternoon tea Henry James
There is nothing better than afternoon tea

What’s on The Menu?

Afternoon tea is a light meal composed of three courses: tea sandwiches without the crusts, of course, followed by scones with clotted cream and jam or lemon curd, then sweets. Everything is bite-sized and eaten with fingers. Often served on the finest English china, or at least it should be, the courses should be consumed from the bottom to the top of the tiered cake stand. The very best afternoon teas will offer expertise in pairing teas with the different courses so as to make the most of the experience.

Everyone wants to feel fancy

Over the years, especially in North America, confusion has lead to the titles High Tea and Afternoon Tea being used interchangeably, even by restaurants and cafes. The main difference is that Afternoon Tea is a light mid-afternoon meal and High Tea traditionally refers to a heavy meal taken by the working class when they arrived home from work. Staples of High Tea would be hearty dishes like kidney pie, meats and cheeses. Hardly finger sandwiches!

My husband will attest that every time I see Afternoon Tea being called High Tea, I snipe, “Well where’s the meat?!??!” There is no meat, therefore this is NOT High Tea! At the end of the day, I think that we all just want to feel special, don our finest and feel like we are the Queen of England or that perhaps we could sneak into Buckingham Palace and have tea with her. There’s no harm in that. We should all endeavor to do our best to understand and observe the tradition of afternoon tea, properly. With this handy guide, you’ll soon be on your way to hosting and understanding the different types of events.

The Different Types of Tea

Did You Know?

You may have also heard afternoon tea referred to as low tea. The name is derived from the height of the furniture used. High tea is served at the dinner table while afternoon tea usually takes place in a comfortable setting with lower chairs and tables.

If you love afternoon tea, high tea, cream tea or having a cup of tea, then we are giving you the opportunity to win a lovely Royal Vale teacup and saucer. Read our official rules of our March 2019 Sweepstakes here and enter below! The contest closes on March 28th 2019.

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