What is High Tea? A Simple Explanation of British Tea Time

What is high tea?

High tea sounds very lovely doesn’t it, but do you know what it actually is? I have to tell you it is one of my most fave things to do EVER and one of the reasons I most love being British

What is High Tea?


What is High Tea? a definition

In England teatime and afternoon tea have come to mean the same thing but it didn’t start out that way at all.

The origins of Afternoon Tea show clearly it was the preserve of the rich in the 19th century. For workers in the newly industrialised Britain of the time ‘tea’ had to wait until after work and be substantially more than just hot drink and cakes. source

Afternoon refreshments would be relaxed and taken on chairs in the garden or in the parlour and it would be quite dainty and insubstantial.  ‘High’ when linked to  it being taken at the table (hence the use of the word high) and would be more substantial and hearty. Both involved lovely hot bevarage and took place in the later afternoon.

Nowadays by ‘high’ we usually means the same as afternoon tea and it consists of  a light meal usually sandwiches, pastries and cakes. Posh hotels do a roaring trade from their afternoon posh teas.


What is High Tea?  – At the Ritz

I once took it at the Ritz in London and oh my goodness it was splendid indeed.  Our superb cucumber sandwiches and strawberry tartlets (amongst many others) was absolutely delicious and a lady sat playing her harp to us as we ate. Beautiful and memory-making.

It is such a lovely tradition, to revive ourselves mid-afternoon is a splendid idea ( if trying at home do have a go at making dandelion tea!

Long may it live on. it really is such a gorgeous tradition full of pleasure and connectivity – what could possibly top it. What an absolute utterly delightful treat it is indeed.


Further reading on what is high tea?

You might also like to read my etiquette tips


what is high tea?
Love this take on what makes it special  by Flavours Catering

collaborative post



Further reading

Cupcakes with hearts are just perfect  for high tea

A list of edible flowers and how to eat them

How about trying a no bake gin cheesecake?


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