Whether savoring a serving of tea at high tea or afternoon tea, English tea can be an incredibly delightful addition to the party or on some occasions even the party itself. Some people may believe that these two occasions are one and the same, but in fact, high tea and afternoon tea ceremonies are most definitely not the same thing and stem from completely different origins.
In this article the differences between each type of traditional English tea ceremony are thoroughly outlined and discussed in regards to their origin, traditions, typical time of occasion and original purposes.
The whole tradition of the English tea ceremony stems back to nineteenth century England and was started by the Duchess of Bedford. These occasions were the first types of traditional afternoon English tea ceremonies that actually began as an in-between occasion when lunch had passed but dinner still seemed a long way off, and there was a need for something in between.
The array of tea was usually served with a miniature meal of breads and butter, and if not for this afternoon meal, the Duchess and her high society lady friends would have had to wait until well after dark for their next meal and this little feast filled that hungry space in between. Since then and now to this day, the afternoon English tea ceremony has truly progressed to include many more foods such as scones and other pastries, but the timing of the occasion has steadfastly remained much the same.
The occasion of high tea is often referred to as the same event as the afternoon English tea ceremony, however they are quite different indeed. Perhaps high tea sounds more proper, but this traditional English tea ceremony is actually the one that was practiced and was originated by the common folk in nineteenth century England.
Afternoon tea was already in full swing, but the poorer people also needed a tradition to surround their tea time. Instead of an earlier scheduled tea time, however, their tea time was scheduled to occur closer to dinner or even in place of dinner. Such was the actual origin of the ceremony, in fact.
This English tea tradition was partially established in order to take the place of the boring and usual meal with an occasion of celebration and enjoyment of tea, and unlike the afternoon tea of the rich, this occasion took place around dusk and included much more filling foods like meat, eggs, cheese and the like. Also, both sexes were included in this meal, unlike the afternoon tea ceremony.