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High Tea vs Afternoon Tea

Friday, June 4, 2010, 10:00 Hrs  [IST]

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High tea is usually considered as a tea served in the afternoon, but as per ancient customs it was served for dinner. The origin of high tea was considered to be from England in 1600 by the labourers. For them, high tea was usually a part of the evening meal that was taken after sunset. Farmers and labourers used to have their high tea in between 5 and 7 pm, which was very much closely related to the dinner or the supper. When they returned home in the evening after the routine hard work, they were tired and hungry. A pot of tea along with few little leftover scrap of lunch was what their meal comprised of and which was known as high tea. It was their daily meal tradition and not something which was consumed occasionally. It was considered as a substantial meal which was needed late evening by the farmers and labourers. During the industrial revolution, working families would return home tired and exhausted. The table would be set with any manner of meat, bread, butter, pickle, cheese and of course, the tea. As it was eaten on high dining table rather than a low tepoy table, it was termed as high tea.

High tea was commonly called as meat tea also because various hearty dishes such as meat sandwiches, meat pie, cold meats, bread, cheese, crackers and variety of dessert were served along with the tea.

Afternoon Tea
Afternoon tea is the one that comes to our mind when we think of English tea ceremonies in which rich and snooty women are chit-chatting over a tea. It is supposed to be formal ritualised gathering where tea is served along with thin sandwiches, little cakes, scones etc. Afternoon tea was initiated in mid 1800, attributed to Anna Maria, the seventh duchess of Belford. In those days, lunch was served at noon and dinner was served between 8 pm and 9 pm. Therefore, duchess found herself hungry during those long afternoon hours. So, she started having tea with bread and butter in mid-afternoon. It became a regular occurrence and she started inviting other high society ladies to join her for the tea. Nowadays, hotel, restaurant, tea-rooms and parlour serve afternoon tea along with small figure sandwiches and other fancy tit-bits, in almost, all over the world.

High tea vs Low tea
The word high and low refers to height of the serving table. High tea was served at high dining table where as low tea is traditionally served on a table in sitting room. As mentioned above, high tea was taken in between 5 pm and 7 pm in the evening on the dining table. On the contrary, low tea is taken on a low tepoy or coffee table in between the meals. Even it is not incorrect to say that the afternoon tea is also a kind of low-tea. Many people use the term ‘high tea’ to describe afternoon English tea ceremonies, may be because, it sounds more elite as the word ‘high’ is wrongly equated to high class and formality. But, high tea is much different thing. It was served late in the evening and consisted of full dinner meal for the common people. It was more of a man’s meal than a ladies social diversion.

The author of the article is Arvind Kumar Saraswati, Assistant Professor, Banarsidas Chandiwala Institute of Hotel Management & Catering Technology, New Delhi.

 
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sham lal kesar Jul 2, 2011 6:05 PM
Very good article it give me the clear picturre of high tea, low tea and afternoon tea. article will be very helpful for young working in hospitality industry
Thanks & wish u all the best.
S.L .Kesar
President. Hotel & Restaurant Association Katra
Bishan singh panwar Dec 19, 2010 10:44 PM
good one sir.....
hari Dec 7, 2010 9:25 AM
Great article sir......!informative
Ihm Patna
krishna Oct 29, 2010 1:28 PM
hi there!
great man just keep it up its nice to get ur article .all the best.
from-
DHHTM,M.U
Rupesh Jun 11, 2010 11:23 AM
very good article
 
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