Are you a tea enthusiast looking to learn more about the differences between high tea and afternoon tea? If so, this guide is for you! Afternoon tea and high tea are two distinct types of tea time, each with its unique history and customs. In this definitive guide, we’ll explain the critical differences between these two traditional tea occasions and provide some tips for hosting your own high tea or afternoon tea. So whether you’re a seasoned tea connoisseur or just starting out, you’ll be sure to learn something new!
What is Afternoon Tea? What Time Is It Served?
Afternoon tea is a traditional British meal served between the hours of 3 pm and 5 pm. It typically consists of tea, sandwiches, scones, and other pastries or desserts. Traditionally, the teas served during afternoon tea would be black tea, such as English Breakfast or Earl Grey.
This meal dates back to the mid-19th century when Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, wanted something to fill the gap between lunch and dinner. She began to invite friends over to enjoy tea and snacks around 4 pm, giving us the afternoon tea we know today.
In modern times, afternoon tea is often served in tea rooms or luxury hotels. It’s also become a popular tourist attraction for visitors to England, who come to experience this part of the culture firsthand.
At traditional afternoon tea gatherings, the food is served on a tiered stand. The bottom tier usually holds savory treats like sandwiches, while the middle tier typically has scones and cakes. Finally, the top level may have small pastries or sweets. As for beverages, people will generally sip tea (hot or cold) or sparkling wine.
There are several teas to choose from for those looking to add a special touch to their afternoon tea experience. In addition to classic black teas such as English Breakfast and Earl Grey, you can also enjoy herbal teas such as chamomile and peppermint. You can also opt for green teas like sencha or matcha for something a bit different.
These days, afternoon tea is a popular event to host for special occasions like birthdays and bridal showers. So if you’re looking for a unique way to entertain guests, consider setting up an afternoon tea!
What Is High Tea?
High tea is a complete meal served in the early evening, usually between 5 pm and 7 pm. This type of tea was originally a working-class meal served to laborers coming home from their day’s work. It is typically a more substantial meal than afternoon tea, often featuring dishes such as beef, fish, potatoes, eggs, and toast. The tea is usually served with milk and sugar and may include scones and cakes.
High tea is a traditional British custom that is still popular today and can be found in many tea rooms and restaurants. While it has been adapted to suit different tastes over time, it remains similar to its original form. Many people choose to host high tea parties for special occasions, serving finger sandwiches and desserts alongside the main course items. To add an extra layer of sophistication, you could even add table decorations and china teacups to make your guests feel even more special!
The Differences between Afternoon Tea and High Tea
When it comes to afternoon tea and high tea, the differences are significant. Afternoon tea is typically a lighter meal, served in the late afternoon with finger foods and small sandwiches. It is often accompanied by a cup of tea, pastries, and cakes. High tea, on the other hand, is a heartier meal, usually enjoyed in the early evening and consisting of a main course dish such as shepherd’s pie or fish and chips. This is often served alongside salads, scones, cakes, and hot drinks.
Another critical difference between afternoon tea and high tea is the setting. Afternoon tea is usually served in a more formal environment, with fine china and elaborate table settings. High tea is casual and may be enjoyed at home or in a pub.
The working classes traditionally served high tea to refuel after a long day of labor. It is more likely to include savory dishes like beans on toast, ham sandwiches, and sausages. On the other hand, afternoon tea is much more associated with upper-class society and may include delicate treats like finger sandwiches and small pastries.
Regarding beverages, both afternoon and high tea typically include hot drinks like tea and coffee, although some people may also enjoy alcoholic beverages with their meals. Afternoon tea usually has a broader selection of teas than high tea, which may include specialty herbal teas or flavored teas.
In summary, the main differences between afternoon tea and high tea are the type of food served, the atmosphere in which they are enjoyed, and the types of beverages available. Afternoon tea is more likely to include finger foods and light sandwiches, whereas high tea is more likely to include hot dishes like shepherd’s pie or fish and chips. Afternoon tea is usually served in a more formal setting with fine china, while high tea is more casual and can be enjoyed in a pub or at home. Finally, afternoon tea usually has a broader selection of teas than high tea.
Why Do People Confuse Them?
It’s easy to see why people confuse Afternoon Tea and High Tea. For one, the names are similar – both sound like they refer to a tea-based event that happens during the afternoon. Also, both involve savory and sweet dishes, as well as tea.
Despite the similarities between the two types of events, there are some key differences between them. For example, Afternoon Tea is typically a more formal affair, often with finger sandwiches and fancy desserts served on tiered trays. High Tea is usually a less formal gathering with heartier fare like casseroles, pies, and other savory dishes.
Another factor contributing to the confusion between Afternoon Tea and High Tea is the different regions where they are practiced. For example, in Britain, Afternoon Tea is the more popular type of gathering, while High Tea is more prevalent in parts of Scotland and Ireland. This can make it difficult to tell which kind of tea event you are attending.
Finally, the terms “Afternoon Tea” and “High Tea” have become interchangeable in recent years. People often use the term “High Tea” to refer to Afternoon Tea or vice versa. This further adds to the confusion.
Ultimately, understanding the differences between Afternoon Tea and High Tea is essential for hosting a suitable event and ensuring guests have an enjoyable experience.
When it comes to afternoon tea and high tea, the two terms have become somewhat muddled over time. Even though they are two distinct experiences, they are often mistakenly referred to interchangeably. The key takeaway is that afternoon tea is typically a light meal taken in the late afternoon, while high tea is a more substantial meal served in the early evening. Knowing the differences between the two can help you choose the proper meal for your needs. Whether you opt for a light snack of finger sandwiches and scones or a heartier meal of meat and potatoes, you can be sure you’re getting exactly what you want.