High tea, or otherwise known as afternoon tea in the UK, is a traditional English meal that became popular in the 1600s. Originally, these tea parties served tea accompanied with hearty meat-based snacks such as meat sandwiches and meat pies, as well as bread, cheese, crackers, and desserts. This is because it was originally meant as part of the evening meal, mostly of the laborers and their families. This is why they used to be called meat teas.
Over time, the concept of high tea changed. High tea now refers to a traditional tea gathering accompanied by a light meal, mostly of snacks and desserts. It is also called afternoon tea, and is more popularly characterized by scones, watercress, bread and butter, cakes, pastries, cookies, and petit fours, among others. The change came in 1830, when Anna Maria Stanhope, then Duchess of Bedford, would have tea, pastries, bread, and jam served in mid-afternoon and would have her friends join her. The trend thus began to spread among the upper class.
Recently, high tea parties have become a popular way of entertaining guests or celebrating special occasions. Contrary to the original concept of high tea, these intimate gatherings are deemed fancier and more refined, elegant, and exquisite, hence the word “high”. In Australia, high tea parties are considered as the finest dining experiences; gaining phenomenal popularity and it is highly esteemed. Hosting a high tea party is a fantastic way to celebrate a special occasion, or just because.
There are different types of afternoon teas: cream tea, light tea, and full tea. Cream tea refers to a high tea served with scones, jam, and cream, whereas light tea is only served with scones and sweets. A full tea has a larger accompaniment including savories, sweets, scones, and dessert.
If you’re not familiar with the terms, savories refer to finger sandwiches, quiches and appetizers, while pastries refer to cakes, cookies, shortbread, and sweets.
These little details are very important to anyone planning to host an afternoon tea.
If you want to have fun by hosting a traditional formal high tea gathering, you must strictly follow the etiquette surrounding the tradition. Even the little faux pas will be considered a distasteful breach of etiquette. Thus, getting a little help from high tea experts in Australia, like High Tea Delights, guarantees a successful and delightful high tea experience.