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HIGH TEA? LOW TEA? MIDDLE TEA? AFTERNOON TEA? Why is british tea time so confusing!

HIGH TEA? LOW TEA? MIDDLE TEA? AFTERNOON TEA? Why is british tea time so confusing!

posted: 2019-04-12 16:30:00 +0800

What is the difference between High Tea and Low Tea? What is the difference between Afternoon tea and high tea? Should I even bother with cream tea? Which is the best tea? Have you got questions about all the different British Tea Times? Well in today’s ask a Brit Blog I have got you the answers!

What is the difference between High Tea and Afternoon Tea? Is Afternoon High tea? Simply, NO! They are all very different meals, you might be surprised to learn the difference! Let’s break them down…

Afternoon Tea

What’s coming to mind? 3 tiered plates filled with dainty sandwiches and delicious cakes? Excellent that is Afternoon Tea. The well known author Henry James once famously said:

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. A selection of tea cakes sandwiches and scones is a true delight to any brit and many visitors to our rainy isle. While drinking tea in Britain dates way back to the 1600s when tea first arrived from China, the custom of afternoon tea is relatively new by comparison. It began in the mid 19th century, Anna, the Duchess of Bedford was peckish after lunch and before dinner. With dinner customarily served to the rich at around 8pm, tummies began rumbling around 4pm. The duchess thus began a custom of eating some light finger food served of course with tea. Initially just a light snack for herself, she soon began inviting friends and it quickly became a social gathering for the wealthy social class. Thus afternoon tea was born!

afternoon tea

What is low tea?

The afternoon tea was traditionally served in the drawing room of stately manor houses, combined with the comfy chairs and low tables it soon coined the nickname “Low Tea” So low tea is just another name Afternoon Tea.

Now the big question, Is High Tea the same as Afternoon Tea?

NO! High tea is NOT afternoon tea! “BUT!” I hear you say, “It’s got the word HIGH in it, surely that means HIGH CLASS?” The answer couldn’t be further from the truth! High tea is far from the luxurious meal imagined in the movies of British upper class.

High tea has its roots in the British working class, it basically means evening tea time or supper, or for our American friends… Dinner! The meals themselves were also hugely different. Whereas Afternoon Tea consisted of small beautiful sandwiches and cakes, High Tea was normally the standard boring English meal of meat and two veg covered in a bucket of gravy. It’s only purpose was to fill the bellies of hungry workers after long days in the factories or mines.

High tea is not as the name suggest, high class, rather it is named as such due to the high table it was eaten on, a standard dinner table.

Hong Kong afternoon tea

Why then to I keep getting invited to classy High Tea events?

Firstly, wow! Check you out with your fancy friends. Sorry to break it to you however they are not fancy just misinformed. Many people get the names confused in a bid to impress people who should know better. Hotels all over the world, including London, entice people with the idea of a high class High Tea. Unless you are being served a joint of beef swimming in gravy, the next time they invite you look directly they at them, roll your eyes and do the British thing, passively aggressively correct them and their lack of High Class.

Other important questions:

If someone asks me to a fancy high tea, how should i respond? Stop being their friends, you can find classier people, (just kidding, they probably mean Afternoon tea, enjoy the free food!)

Are there different types of Afternoon Tea? Yes, we have Afternoon tea and Low tea as mentioned above, there is also a cream tea. It’s basically afternoon tea but with just scones, tea, cream and jam. (This is my favourite as it comes from where I grew up Devon!) For more information on Cream Teas and Scones, check out Julie's blog here

scones

There is one more type of tea, a Royal Tea, its afternoon tea but with Champagne! YUM!

Does the whole of England stop at 3-4pm everyday to have afternoon tea? Sadly, no, but what a wonderful world that would be. The average workforce does stop about 2,000 times a day to drink a cup of builders tea (tea in a mug, with a tea bag… not high class at all!) These days although brits still enjoy a good afternoon tea, its saved for special occasions.

So there you have it, the basics of Afternoon Tea! Whether you're going for a fancy Afternoon Tea ceromony with friends in the London Ritz, baking your own scones and using some of our great products to create your own and impress your friends why not give this quintessential Biritish custom a try. Just avoid any High tea parties, unless you want to dress like a factory worker from Victorian Britain...

This is a Hong Kong GGB original 'HIGH TEA? LOW TEA? MIDDLE TEA? AFTERNOON TEA? Why is british tea time so confusing!' blogpost.
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blog written by: # Charlie (13)
Charlie, Editor

Our resident traveller! Charlie spends his time hunting the world for some of our newest gift ideas and enjoys traveling while doing it!     > more...


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