Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Apr 24, 2010 12:23 PM

High Tea vs Afternoon Tea?

What is the difference? I am coming from Canada for the first time to London.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. In tea drinking terms, high tea is a more eloborate usually featuring a small warm dish along with all the afternoon tea trimmings. It tends to be enjoyed toward the end of tea hours. A lot of places don't offer high tea. I think Claridges and the Dorchester offer high tea.

    Afternoon tea is the standard cakes, sandwiches, and scones.

    1. Afternoon tea is tea served with finger sandwiches and small cakes, typically around 4 p.m. High tea is working class terminology for dinner. (Apologize for the classist language, but can't think of a better way to put it.)

      7 Replies
      1. re: pikawicca

        North Americans typically refer to afternoon tea as high tea and I've seen places that refer to the additional added warm dish as high tea.

        1. re: pikawicca

          Not totally correct. In better off families High Tea was the meal served in late afternoon/early evening before the children went to bed. It usually had a selection of cold cuts and salad followed by cakes, but no hot dishes (apart from crumpets and tea cakes). In those days Dinner was usually served without children present. I believe the working classes would have simply used the word Tea or Supper for their evening meal, after all they didn't really indulge in Afternoon Tea!

          I don't think you will find the term High Tea used in the UK today, most hotels/tearooms use the term Afternoon Tea which includes sandwiches, scones, cakes etc. When I was young, a hot savoury like Welsh Rarebit would be enjoyed with Morning Tea; often at the now famous Betty's tea rooms in York.

          1. re: PhilD

            Last I was in London, places catering to tourists advertised High Tea. What they served was Afternoon Tea. Back in the 60's, when I was a teenager living in East Anglia, none of my middle class friends had High Tea, and I never saw it advertised. Could be a regional thing, I suppose.

            1. re: pikawicca

              Probably more generational. In the '60s it was only my grandparents (who were from London) who still served it, and they were born in the 1800s.

            2. re: PhilD

              You see High Tea advertised in places in Yorkshire (although I can't recall anywhere else in the country) - which is why I asked if this is what the OP was looking for. Always seems to include hot food (ham, egg & chips - that sort of thing).

              For example:

              1. re: Harters

                What time of day is this being served?