The royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton last April sparked interest in the British culture amongst Americans. There were a number of articles written about British traditions including highlights misunderstanding afternoon tea with high tea. They were often used synonymously. Both refer to meals with tea, but do you know the difference between high and afternoon tea?
High tea on the contrary to what some people think, does not involve high class. Rather, high tea is served amongst the working class. “High” refers to how the tea meal is served—on high dinner tables or countertops. “High” also comes from the fact that this meal is served later in the day as an early evening meal typically from 5 to 7 p.m. A high tea banquet includes a hot meal, which tends to be fish and chips, macaroni and cheese or shepherd’s pie followed by bread and jam accompanied with tea.
Historically, we believe afternoon tea started in the 1800s in England by the Duchess of Bedford. At that time, there were only two meals, a morning breakfast-like feast and a late dinnertime meal. The story goes that the Duchess felt fatigued and famished during that long meal break, so she invited some friends over to share tea and snacks. Thus, afternoon tea became recognized as the meal served to bridge the gap between lunch and dinner. Also known as “low” tea, afternoon tea is accordingly served on low tables. This light meal or snack usually consists of jam and bread and an assortment of pastries such as scones, English muffins and cakes. Loose leaf tea is served with milk and sugar. The spread is enjoyed in a sitting room oftentimes garnished with lace table cloth, doilies and a centerpiece of beautiful flowers. This tradition quickly became a social gathering mainly for women emphasizing manners and elegance. Today, people love to host tea parties that follow the theme of afternoon tea. Picture the Mad Hatter’s tea party from Alice in Wonderland, and you’ll get a better idea of afternoon tea. Here is a photo from an Art of Tea afternoon tea party hosted by Katie from Art of Tea.
How to Throw An Art of Tea Afternoon Tea Party:
2. Prepare a homemade or store bought cornucopia of pastries including scones, bread and jams, and cakes.
3. Choose a low table or coffee table inside, or patio table in the garden. Use a nice tablecloth. Place a doily in the center of the table. Add a vase with freshly cut flowers over the doily.
4. Bring out the fancy china and silverware—teacups, teapots, etc.
5. Don’t forget to invite your friends, and enjoy your afternoon tea, just like the Brits!