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What is High Tea

Updated on August 24, 2012

What is High Tea?

Its High time for High tea!

High Tea is actually an evening meal, it was called this to distinguish it from afternoon tea, its eaten between 5 and 7pm and children of the upper classes had it and miners and workers who ate when they came home from work. It was called this from the 1800s and has now morphed into a new type of "tea".

High Tea has now taken on the meaning of what was considered "afternoon tea", this was a small meal or snack eaten between 3pm and 5pm accompanied by tea!

The original "afternoon tea" would consist of tea, sandwiches, scones, cakes and pastries. It would be taken when possible in the garden (weather permitting) or in the drawing room.

The History of High Tea

A Brief History of High Tea

Before High Tea was introduced in the UK, people ate only two meals a day, breakfast and dinner. During the 19th century, Dinner was moved from what is now considered lunchtime to the evening and was served fashionably late. Dinner became a long meal to end the day.

In the 17th century the British East India Company began to import tea to the UK, along with numerous other imports.

King Charles II returned from exile in the 17th century from Holland and brought was a tea drinker, this made tea a popular drink in England and replaced Ale as the national drink.

In the 18th Century, Queen Anne adopted Tea as her regular breakfast beverage replacing Ale.

By the 19th Century Tea was the staple drink in every household in Britain, and Queen Victoria's lady in waiting Anna Maria Stanhope the Duchess of Beford was credited with creating afternoon tea. She began by sneaking tea and breads at about 4 in the afternoon, she soon invited friends to join her for afternoon tea at her home. She would provide bread and butter sandwiches and small cakes. It became known as a social gathering, and other social hostesses were then issuing invites for "afternoon tea"

The Etiquette of Afternoon Tea


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