What is High Tea

High Tea - The Brit Way to Do It

The concept of high tea originated in the United Kingdom but has become incredibly popular all over the world since. However, there are a lot of misconceptions about what it really is and the right way to organize high tea. Given below is some information on how the Brits do high tea.

What does high tea really mean?

High tea is a term that is used generally when tea is served with cakes or pastries because it sounds quite regal and refined. High tea is also called meat tea and is actually a heavier evening meal. It is quite like dinner and is served usually between 5 PM and 7 PM. Typically high tea includes a hot dish, bread, butter, jam and cakes. Occasionally cold cuts like ham salad are also served.

The history

High tea was historically a meal enjoyed by upper and middle class children, by miners and laborers as they come back home after work. The term originated in 1825 and is different from the afternoon tea or low tea that is usually enjoyed around 4 PM. In many areas of the British Isles, work class or lower middle class people called their evening meal tea and their midday meal dinner. On the other hand, the upper classes called their evening meal supper and their midday meal luncheon. However, this has significantly been obliterated over the years.

High tea today

Over the years, the concept of high tea has changed. Today it is served usually from 3 PM to 5 PM with sweet snacks to provide some nourishment until dinner is served. There are various types of formal afternoon teas that are served today in Britain:

Light tea: sweets, scones and tea

Cream tea: scones served with clotted or Devonshire cream and jam and tea (Earl Grey, Classic Black or English Breakfast)

Full tea: savories like tiny sandwiches, appetizers, sweets, scones, cakes, cookies, pastries and tea. Sandwiches in full tea are typically smoked salmon, ham, fish pate, egg and cress or cucumber. Cakes typically served for full tea are Victoria sponge, fruit cake or Battenberg cake.

Formal tea is still enjoyed as a treat in tea shops and in hotels. However, for everyday life, British people generally prefer simple refreshments at work or home consisting of tea and biscuits. Tea breaks are typically enjoyed several times during the day.

 

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