By: Rex "Ito Domo" Fortu
High tea and afternoon tea are terms you may have come across before and thought that they were synonymous likely due to word of mouth. These phrases have been interchangeably used throughout modern day tea drinking. We may have heard of afternoon tea being served in hotels and posh restaurants but what about high tea?
Let’s travel back in time to learn about how these British traditions spread all throughout the world and still continue to be enjoyed today. It all started in England during the 19th century. As customary in the royal families, meals were a crucial part of the day and mealtime schedules were observed on the dot. Traditionally, they would have a heavy breakfast feast in the morning followed by a light lunch and dinner would be usually served at 8:00 PM.
During these times, it is believed that a duchess, Anna Maria of Bedford, felt hunger pangs at around 4:00 PM so she ordered tea and some light snacks to be delivered in her room. She asked for cake, finger sandwiches, scones with jam and tea. This continued on a daily basis and what began as her private “foodie” session became more of a late afternoon habit and soon enough she invited friends and relatives to join her. There was a specific dress code and tea was served in fine teacups on low tables and guests would sit on cushioned armchairs while the Duchess and her fellow aristocrats merrily talked and dined. What a dreamy and luxurious way to live life, right?
More people started to imitate and host their own gatherings and “afternoon tea” gradually turned into a fashion practiced all over the continent. Unfortunately, afternoon tea parties were not for everyone and were celebrated only for the rich and the nobles.
On the contrary, high tea was given for the working class and middle class who typically worked labor-intensive jobs such as fieldwork and mining. The hungry workers would come home at 5:00 PM after a tiring workday so a hearty meal was prepared for them and tea was a substantial part of it. High tea was given its name because it was traditionally served at high tables and high-back dinner chairs (or simply on the high), after a laborious day at work. It was more of a sizeable savory meal consisting of bread, fish dishes, meat pies and vegetables like baked beans, onions and potatoes, served from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. It became a relevant tradition and high tea became simply synonymous with family supper.
To summarize, afternoon tea was intended to fill the gap between lunch and dinner. It is now served from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM and eaten with finger food and light treats. High tea on the other hand, is generally enjoyed between 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM with a savory dinner meal.
Fast forward to 2020 and nowadays, we don’t need to be in a specific society class to have tea as it is already made available for anyone and everyone who wishes to consume this delightful drink. With Havva Brew’s selection of afternoon teas and high teas, we can be as fancy as the royalties of old and at the same time reward ourselves after a long day at work.
Afternoon tea and high tea are now more than just eating and drinking; they are mini occasions which we can spend with our families, friends and loved ones. Maybe it’s time to have your very own afternoon tea or better yet, hold a tea party! With the holidays coming up, teas and infusions can be that healthy and refreshing beverage to wash all of the holiday feasts down (albeit social distancing of course).
Does hosting a tea party for the coming holidays sound good and inviting? Then be on the lookout for our upcoming blogs about tea parties (parTEAs) and tea cocktails!
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