On a beautiful sunny day there is nothing more lovely and typically British than Afternoon Tea, but this is not to be confused with High Tea, which is a completely different meal.
Afternoon Tea is taken around 4pm and consists of dainty finger foods such as smoked salmon sandwiches, scones and cakes and is always served with a pot of freshly brewed tea. There are many variations to Afternoon Tea depending on the establishment or personal taste, but the amount of food served was and still is for the purpose of filling the gap between lunch and evening supper. Historically Afternoon Tea was a social event and taken in or out of the home by the upper classes who would perhaps meet at tea houses, hotels or visit the home of a friend
High Tea is something completely different and is a much more substantial meal traditionally eaten by the working population who had no time for afternoon frivolities and wanted a more substantial meal as they were famished after leaving work. There was also no supper in the evening as High Tea was a heavier meal of meat and vegetables designed to last until the following morning. It is now known in most households in the UK as simply “tea”.
Typical Afternoon Tea would be:
Finger sandwiches of smoked salmon, cucumber, egg and cress, ham and mustard.
Victoria sponge, scones and fancies.
All eaten on small china plates with silver cutlery and small dainty tea napkins.
A large pot of freshly brewed tea (made with leaves, not a tea bag.)
Typical High Tea would be:
Meat and vegetable based foods, pies and cheese dishes. Very much what is now classified as a home cooked meal and still eaten in the early evening.