High tea is a well-known British way of drinking tea. It usually involves great food, great company, and most importantly of all—great tea. But beyond those things, how much do you know about high tea?
Understanding high tea
High tea is a rather extravagant traditional afternoon tea that was started by the British people. It's an interesting event because it doesn't just involve drinking tea, it's a special and intimate event that can be enjoyed with your family, friends, or the people from your social circle. It's about having a memorable high tea experience accompanied with delectable foods and fun conversations.
History of high tea
High tea is often interchanged with afternoon tea. This is because traditional high tea was often conducted during dinnertime. And surprisingly enough, though this seems like such an elegant event, it was members of the working class that popularized this social affair. Factory workers would usually assemble high tea for dinner after they came home from a tiring day at work.
Sooner or later, this tradition becomes popular among the elite class too. This was a time when kerosene lamps became a mainstream thing among upper class citizens. This made only those who are wealthy enjoy later dinner times, mostly taking place at 9 pm. With dinnertime being so late, the people started to have lighter meals in the afternoon so as not to feel famished. This is how afternoon tea really made itself known. A certain duchess of Bedford was to blame for the rise of its popularity, known to have invited her high-level friends over to enjoy an exquisite high tea menu.
What are the types of high tea experience?
High teas may vary, depending on the high tea menu involved and the time it was conducted. It's up to you which one you think suits your taste or mood the best.
1. Light tea
When it comes to a light tea event, it's all about the sweetness and goodness. It's named as it is because it only includes a light meal and no sandwiches or any type of savory finger foods are involved. Instead, the high tea menu is composed of sponge cakes, scones, trifles, madeleines, and others alike. As for the tea selection, it's focused on British favorites like Assam black tea and earl grey tea, as well as herbal teas like chamomile and mint tea.
2. Full tea
Full tea is like a full-blown course of a high tea event. Its high tea menu is a delightful combination of sweet and savory treats. There are finger sandwiches, soups, quiches, scones, cakes, as well as hot tea and iced tea. But what makes this high tea experience really special is the feature of the three-tiered stand which is used to serve the high tea menu. The savory treats are displayed on the lowest tier while the second and first level tiers are holding the sweet ones. Basic etiquette rules state that everything must be eaten from bottom to top order.
3. Cream tea
Cream tea is a type of high tea where you can enjoy a table filled with scones, clotted cream, and jam. This was popularized in the Devon and Cornwall regions. The traditional Devonian way is by slicing up the scone, spreading the cream on it, and adding a bit of the jam on top. Meanwhile, the Cornish method follows the rule of putting the jam first before the cream. Either way, it's definitely a delightful way to enjoy an afternoon tea, not to mention accompanying it with drinking English breakfast tea and earl grey tea.
Other types of high tea that you may enjoy
4. Morning tea
Morning tea is a type of high tea event that takes place between breakfast and lunch. It can be a brunch time event too. High tea doesn't always have to be an afternoon tea sort of thing.
5. Champagne high tea
The Champagne high tea is just like your typical full tea event, except it comes with glasses of champagne. It may seem unlikely to pair elegant teas with elegant alcohol but they work more beautifully together than one would think. It makes the event all the more special and sophisticated, perfect for celebrating special occasions with family and friends.
What are the ideal high tea venues?
High tea can be organized and celebrated anywhere. It can be done extravagantly in an event place or even somewhere as simple as your backyard garden. The venue depends on how important the high tea is, what it's for and who you will be inviting to it. The most important thing is that you choose the one that resonates the most with the purpose why you're having high tea in the first place.
How can you organize high tea at home?
It may seem like such a tedious idea to plan for and host a high tea event at home. But to think of it, it's actually more cost-efficient and fun! You have the freedom to turn your place into anything you like and it's a much more comfortable space to share with the people you care about.
Here are the following factors to consider in hosting a high tea at home:
- Choose a theme. (Is it Parisian? Or is it a traditional British afternoon tea?)
- Decide on your high tea menu. (Will it be sweet treats? Savory finger foods? Or could it be the best of both worlds?)
- Have an exquisite tea selection. (The tea is the most important part of this event. Make sure you choose the best ones. For ideas, you can look around here.)
- Prepare your high tea kit. (You will be needing your high tea party essentials such as elegant table napkins, the three-tiered stand, teapots, teacups, tea strainers, etc.)
Planning to organize a high tea "from home"? We'll help you out!
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