“Stands the Church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?”
--Rupert Brooke, The Old Vicarage, Grantchester
Good Thursday morning.
It's early yet, but I'm busy getting things ready for our Afternoon Tea gathering.
Afternoon Tea or High Tea ?
Determined by the time of day tea is consumed. Afternoon tea is typically consumed with a small snack between 2 pm and 5 pm. High tea is consumed later in the day, between 5 pm and 7 pm.
Afternoon Tea Basics
Afternoon tea, also known as 'low tea,' is what most people think of when they hear 'high tea.' It involves things like manners, lace and dainty foods. It is typically served in the mid-afternoon and it was traditionally served on low tables, hence its two names.
Historically, afternoon tea was considered to be a ladies' social occasion, and it is more often enjoyed by women than men to this day.
High Tea Basics
High tea, on the other hand, is traditionally a working class meal served on a high table at the end of the workday, shortly after five PM. It is a heavy meal of meat dishes (such as steak and kidney pie), fish dishes (such as pickled salmon), baked goods (such as crumpets or, in Ireland, barm brack, vegetables (such as potatoes or onion cakes), and other heavy foods (such as baked beans and cheesy casseroles).
High tea is much more of a working class family meal than it was an elite social gathering.
A Brief History of Afternoon Tea
Legend has it that afternoon tea was started in the mid-1800s by the Duchess of Bedford. Around this time, kerosene lamps were introduced in wealthier homes, and eating a late dinner (around eight or nine PM) became fashionable. At the time, there were only two meals each day -- a mid-morning, breakfast-like meal and the other was an increasingly late dinner-like meal.
|The Duchess has a tea named in her honor|
The story goes that the Duchess found herself with a "sinking feeling" (likely fatigue from hunger during the long wait between meals) and decided to have some friends over for assorted snacks and tea (a very fashionable drink at the time). The idea of an afternoon tea gathering spread across high society and became a favorite pastime of ladies of leisure. Later, it spread beyond the highest echelons of society and became more accessible for some other socioeconomic groups.
Today, tea, the drink, is a major component of many British meals, including breakfast, 'elevenses,' afternoon tea and 'tea' (which is more like traditional high tea than afternoon tea).
Our Afternoon Tea
Since our gathering is for afternoon tea, I've chosen pink and gray for our table setting. There's plenty of space available around the table for all who will choose to join us.
I've chosen Lapsang Souchong as our featured tea of the day. It's a black tea from China and Taiwan. Its unique flavour is produced by lying the leaves out on bamboo trays and allowing smoke from pinewood to permeate through them. It is considered an adventurous tea with a unique smoke flavour and a dark rich colour. Drink with or without milk.
Some tea drinkers believe you get the best flavor from loose-leaf tea. See below for a way to brew loose-leaf tea on a cup without the mess. Love that little dragonfly tea twig, from Stash tea.
Do you care for a cucumber sandwich?
Date nut bread, anyone? It's my favorite tea bread. The recipe I use can be be found here.
|credit: Chock Full o'Nuts' date-nut bread. Leah Koenig|
No afternoon tea would be complete without scones. There's strawberry jam as well:
Or lemon curd if you prefer. M-mmm. Love this stuff! I make my own; very easy and quick.
I wouldn't want anyone to leave hungry, so here's a few more treats to choose from:
Thanks for stopping by and see you for tea next Thursday, same place but a different menu.