High tea vs afternoon tea: What’s the difference?

High tea vs afternoon tea: What’s the difference?

By Lutho Pasiya Time of article published Aug 4, 2021

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Tea is a popular beverage in the world and with it have come many meal traditions.

High tea and afternoon tea are two such practices that revolve around tea, and it is common for individuals to get somewhat confused between the two.

While most characteristics with regards to the two are somewhat similar, there are certain factors that make them unique in their own right.

What is afternoon tea?

Traditionally, afternoon tea was a privilege enjoyed by the higher classes.

Many years ago, when the upper class ate late, afternoon tea was a light meal enjoyed between what we would now consider brunch and dinner to fill the gap.

Now, afternoon tea is a treat and not just a snack.

Modern lifestyles often don’t allow us to sit down and take afternoon tea each day.

Instead, it is something special that we sometimes enjoy on the weekend, often in a reduced format.

Afternoon tea is often served around 4pm, halfway between a large breakfast and what would now be considered a later dinner.

Crustless sandwiches and savouries such as scones with jam and a selection of small cakes are often served.

The food is bite-sized and you use your fingers to eat.

These delicacies are traditionally served on a three-tiered tray, together with a pot of tea.

What is high tea?

Historically, it gained popularity during the 1600s.

It is typically eaten around 5pm and 6pm, sometimes serving as a substitute for afternoon tea and the evening meal.

The term ‘high tea’ comes from the meal being consumed from the main dining table or a “high” table as opposed to the smaller lounge table usually used for serving tea.

Also called meat tea, it is a heavy meal consisting of dishes such as pies, baked goods such as crumpets, fish dishes such as pickled salmon, and other heavy foods such as cheesy casseroles and baked beans.

High tea is usually served on regular dishes instead of fine china.

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