The "tea meals" referred to as high tea and afternoon tea originally started as social dining traditions in England and then spread to other English speaking countries in differing forms.
The primary distinction between differing tea meals is the time of day, food served, and the location of the tea meal, according to Marcus Stout, president of Golden Moon Tea Company.
Afternoon tea, which is also referred to as low tea, includes a light meal typically eaten around 4:00 p.m. Traditionally, the tea and food are served on a lounge (or low) table, which is where it gets its name.
Loose tea is brewed and served in a teapot with milk and sugar. The tea is usually accompanied by a variety of sandwiches that may include cucumber, egg and cress, tuna, ham, and/or smoked salmon.
Scones (with butter, clotted cream and jam), cakes and pastries are typically served, as well.
While afternoon tea used to be an everyday event in certain cultures, in current times it is more likely to be a treat in a hotel, café, or tea shop. Although, some individuals still have a cup of tea and slice of cake or chocolate at tea time. Accordingly, many hotels now market and promote afternoon teas.
As an early evening meal with tea served typically eaten between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m., this tea serves as a substitute for both afternoon tea and the more substantial evening meal.
The term comes from the meal being eaten at the "high" or main dining table, instead of the smaller lounge or low table.
Cold meats, eggs and/or fish, cakes and sandwiches are integral to the meal. Though in a family setting, it is less formal and may include small sandwiches, cookies, pastry, and fruit.
Like Low Tea, this tea meal tradition is no longer a daily standard and has been replaced by a more substantial meal that is served later in the day.
In recent years, high tea somehow became a word for exquisite afternoon tea. In traditional terms, this is not correct.
Excerpts from article by Marcus Stout, president of Golden Moon Tea Company.
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