HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


What to expect at a "Tea"

I am on a fundraising committee that is considering doing a "Tea" as part of the campaign. I wanted to hear from American Chowhounds about their expectations.

My opinion is a little biased because my grandparents were from France. Growing up, we had tea, (we called it just that, "Tea") that was a late afternoon snack and then later, we had supper. My husband is European and this is what they do, as well, in his native country (often just for the kids). I always enjoy the "Tea" that his sister puts out for us every day when we are there visiting. I do know the different terms for Tea for English-speaking countries and what is served at them.

We have one group wanting to call it "High Tea" because it SOUNDS more refined. We have one group wanting to call it "Afternoon Tea" because it is more accurate. There will be only light snacking foods served, and it will be in the early afternoon.

I don't care, I'd be fine just calling it a "Tea"... I just think we should make sure our contributors know what is being served. This is a fundraiser, so the other side of it is that we don't want people upset if they expected substantial food then were served meager fair because they were misled by the terminology. We need these people for future endeavors. I thought I'd get the Chowhound's opinions on this.

So, all of that to ask...

Do you think Americans know the difference between High and Afternoon Tea and does it make a difference what you serve? If we call it High Tea and don't serve food of substance, do you think that is misleading or it doesn't really matter?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I used to do fund-raising for a biggie charity, and as a staffer, I'd be truly scared to charge $50-ish for a ticket and then serve plainish tea and a few bites. For anywhere near that price, I'd expect a good tea selection with upscale tea-table acoutrements and at least tea sandwiches and a variety of fruits or cookies/biscuits. As you said, you can't afford to tick off your contributors for any future events.

    1 Reply
    1. re: pine time

      I shouldn't have included a price in my post and I edited it out. We have not decided how much to put on the tickets. It was just a number I pulled out of the air and it really has nothing to do with the question we are trying to get an answer to. The question is what is expected based on using the term "Afternoon Tea" vs. "High Tea". Sorry about that.

    2. I've always associated "High Tea" with a more formal event, with plates and plates of scones and double cream and pastries sandwiches and edibles and a large selection of teas brought to your table with tuxedo-clad servers in white gloves. I associate "Afternoon Tea" with a more casual garden party event, with open trays of sandwiches and small snacks, with people strolling around and socializing, helping themselves.
      I would be careful about the cost related to what you offer. If you are doing "High Tea" and having full table service and wonderful pastries and teas and its clear this is a formal event, then the cost would be fairly close. But $50 for an Afternoon Tea very well may lead to disappointment.

      4 Replies
      1. re: freia

        High tea doesn't refer to "high society," it is a hearty, sit down meal. It does not imply a formal event, if one uses the definition properly.

        1. re: wyogal

          Just google Images for High Tea. You'll understand where I'm coming from.
          I think this image is pretty common. I didn't say it was accurate, I was merely responding to the question which is in essence "what comes to mind when I say High Tea", not what is the googled accurate definition of High Tea.
          My point is this: if you call it a High Tea and the average American has a view of what a High Tea is and shows up and gets something different, you can pull out your iPad and say NO YOU'RE WRONG LOOK IT UP, but still have unhappy people. You'll be right, but you'll have a whole bunch of unhappy charity event attenders and this may color your future events.
          It is the perception of what it is, which is what I was answering.

          1. re: wyogal

            That is exactly how I associate the term "High Tea," as it is/was something for the "common folk," thought that is NOT bad. Much will depend on the country, and in the US, the term "High Tea" has a certain connotation, regardless of what the term means/meant in the UK.

            We have "misused" the term, but with some reason, in the USA. Then, we have done some Champagnes (we are into wines, so a few really good Champagnes is not a bad idea), to go with the more traditional finger sandwiches.


          2. re: freia

            I agree that "High Tea" sounds fancy, while "Afternoon Tea" sounds more like something held in a garden. I understand it's not accurate, but that's my first thought when I hear the terms (not being someone who "teas"). I'd look it up if I were to actually go to one because otherwise I wouldn't know what to wear or what to expect for food, but that's my first impression, too.

          3. What to expect for a 50 dollar a ticket tea? Depends if there is also some sort of entertainment or speaker and the tea itself is an afterthought....

            1 Reply
            1. re: PotatoPuff

              See, then it becomes more of a "you are invited to a light lunch and entertainment" or "come and enjoy our speaker on X, Light lunch is included" vs a "tea", I think.

            2. Please see my post above about the dollar amount. I don't want that to cloud the actual question I'm asking here. Sorry to have put it there in the first place to cause confusion. Forget the price. The question is what to call the event.

              Thank you Freia for your response.

              2 Replies
              1. re: gardencook

                Sure, I understand about the price thing, but I'm doubting that most Americans really understand the variances in tea traditions. Most of us have heard of high teas and -- rightly or wrongly -- expect elegance, variety of teas, and a healthy selection of foods. Use of any " ___ tea" term, I guess, would conjure those expectations. You don't want to put off donors, especially if you want to keep them giving! Just my 2 pennies.

                1. re: pine time

                  That is a good point. The actual names might not be, traditionally, what they seem. However, in the USA, exactly how traditional, must one be?

                  We hosted a "tea," prior to a family wedding. The hosting hotel DID call it "High Tea," and my wife, who knows better, just went along. In the end, the even was great, and we served some spectacular Champagnes, not on the normal "High Tea" list. We refused to get hung up on semantics, and went with the flow.

                  When hosting in the UK, we are much more attentive (anal?) about the terms used.


              2. There is a difference, depending on what is served.
                According to the book, "Tea & Etiquette" (Dorothea Johnson), calling an afternoon tea, "high tea," would be inappropriate and incorrect. They further state that people do so out of ignorance and wanting to be posh.
                High tea is a "hearty sit down meal" after a long day of work in the mines or fields. That's how it originated.
                So, your inclination to call it "Tea" or "Afternoon Tea" would be correct if you are serving dainty sandwiches, light fare. Calling it "High Tea" would be misleading to those that know the difference.
                Having an elegant "tea" with fine service and a variety of light, elegantly presented nibbles, for charity, in the afternoon, would be worthy of $30-$50 for charity. IMO.

                4 Replies
                1. re: wyogal

                  Exactly, wyogal. I grew up knowing the difference and the occasional misinterpretation of it in the US which is why the subject came up in the first place. We just don't know how many people realize that "High Tea" is a misnomer and would be upset if they didn't get meat pies, potatoes, and hearty bread. A good portion of the committee is saying, "Ah, Americans don't know what High Tea really is, anyway. They'll think that "High" means refined." Others think, "Nah, Americans are informed." I'm leaning kind of toward the middle saying, "Call it "Tea" and tell them what is being served." But I'm willing to have my opinion changed based on the thoughts of Chowhounds. :-)

                  1. re: gardencook

                    I'd still stay away from calling it "high tea," and would bring a reference to the next meeting to inform those on the committee that don't know any better. Calling it a "Tea" (or add "afternoon") avoids that confusion.

                    1. re: gardencook

                      Yes, many would know the difference, but then, would this group of participants know?

                      Tough call.


                    2. re: wyogal

                      That is also my understanding, and especially in the UK. However, in the USA, things are viewed differently. If one's guest list is only USA residents, then there are other things to consider. The PR aspects, for a charity event, might point in a different direction - it just depends.


                    3. "Do you think Americans know the difference between High and Afternoon Tea and does it make a difference what you serve?"

                      Looking at the fairly regular posts on the UK/Ireland board made by American tourists visiting the UK, I'd suggest the definite answer is "no". At least in the sense that Britons understand the distinction between Afternoon Tea and High Tea.

                      The former is served mid to late afternoon and comprises sandwiches, cakes and pastries. The latter is the evening meal, taken in the late afternoon or very early evening. Traditionally eaten in northern Britain by, mainly working class families. It'll comprise a hot main meal (say, pie, potatoes and vegetables), followed, perhaps, by a slice of cake. It's very rare these days that you'll see a restaurant offering High Tea ( I havnt seen one outside the county of Yorkshire for some years)

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Harters

                        To make things more interesting, a Scottish High Tea is a hot dish or a hot meal served with the biscuits, scones, and cakes of an afternoon tea. Tea is served. There's a few places around these parts offering it. Don't imagine anyone will expect that, though. Looks like even the English don't know what happens up here.

                        1. re: Lizard

                          I was very interested to read about the Scottish HIgh Tea. A couple of years ago, I did a Burns Day tea party, which I did not label as either afternoon or high tea (and I did know the difference). I just made a bunch of goodies including hot crab cakes (because I didn't think kippers would go over too well with the non-Scots), scones, oatcakes, etc., etc. One of the guests commented that it was truly a high tea because of the extra hot & savoury components.

                          I would love to hear anything more you'd like to tell about Scottish teas, Lizard.

                        2. re: Harters


                          I agree completely. In the US, we try to adopt many UK affectations, but often fail horribly - though not without trying.

                          Thank you for the info.


                        3. High Tea is later than 4 pm, Afternoon Tea or Tea is around 4pm well between 3.30 and 4.30 but never later.

                          Call it Afternoon Tea and if I was invited I'd expect sandwiches (usually dainty probably with crusts cut off), cups of tea and pastries and biscuits (English ones not American ones). The pastries should be dainty too, not huge great Danishes like you'd get in the US but bite size or 2 bite sized and served with a fork on a plate. I'd also expect some cakes which are sliced at the table and served onto the plates - again forks are expected.

                          High Tea to me being middle class from the South of England is really a kids meal and more of an early supper. I don't think I'd heard of it till I was in my late teens having never come across the term for adults. There's a big North South divide in the UK and of course a class divide.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: smartie

                            Interesting that High Tea was also in the South, smartie. Didnt know that - but it sounds much along the same lines as the Northern version as I'd also see it as an early meal where the whole family would eat together (almost on the table for when Dad got in from work)

                            1. If you live in an area where there exist Tea Houses, Tea Salons or Tea Parlors that serve High Tea and Afternoon Tea, then there will be expectations and people will know the difference. The general 'do Americans know' question isn't a good barometer.

                              If you expect to have a fund raiser to get donations from people who don't and never would know the difference (like even from googling "High Tea"), then I guess you could, but I seriously doubt that your NonProfit was formed in an area of the US that has a population of people isolated from technology, much less life experience.

                              1. If I was invited to a tea fundraiser, I would Google the kind of tea the invitation indicated and expect that. I think the ones who know, know, and the ones who don't, Google.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: SAHCook

                                  And seriously, google "high tea" under images, and you'll get an idea of what pops up. Which makes it confusing I think...

                                  1. re: SAHCook

                                    there are loads of people who can't be bothered to google directions -- they're not going to google what kind of even it is.

                                    I'll also add that an awful lot of people are going to think "Tea? Ugh. Hate tea. Nasty watery Lipton's"

                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                      YES. THIS. Sunshine you nailed it. Some people are going to take it rather literally and we've gotta remember that most Americans still aren't quality & ingredient focused when it comes to what they put in their mouths. They. Just. Don't. Know. Any. Better. So they're sure not going to be all that invested in a "tea" versus, say, "light hors d'oevres" or any other description. They will be invested in "value".

                                      Just be accurate and if that means a more generic description, so be it. I think the OP needs to define what she means by tea (even though that's so depressing) and pretty much expect that no, we don't know the distinction between types of teas.

                                      1. re: Vetter

                                        "most Americans still aren't quality & ingredient focused when it comes to what they put in their mouths. They. Just. Don't. Know. Any. Better. "
                                        wow. That's a rather condescending attitude. Not the attitude someone would have in order to run a successful charity event.
                                        And I disagree. We live in the boonies and have several charity teas during the year. I just read in the paper the schedule for one particular group's winter teas. People here know what it is.

                                        1. re: wyogal

                                          I agree completely. Many Euro-snobs might be surprised by what US residents do, and do not do. Though some might not be capable of digesting it. They watch SkyNews, and assume that they know everything, when they do not - not even close.


                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                            My husband just spend eighteen months working for a British man. He was surprised that we don't own guns. He was surprised that we eat well. I'm guessing that he was surprised that we wore shoes!

                                            There are all sorts of people in every place. Stereotypes can be useful to a degree, but not when they are used to degrade.

                                  2. Thank you SAHCook... this was exactly the kind of feedback I was looking for.

                                    For the record, I'm well aware of the differences between Afternoon and High Teas. I appreciate the clarification, but I already knew this and wasn't really needing a lesson in the differences. Really, I'm wondering what Americans feel would be the expectations based on the terminology used. Just in general.

                                    I think SAHCook summed it up very well and Cathy, you make very good points. Our area, I'm sorry to say, is not known for its cultural or culinary forwardness. Some of the ideas being tossed around would probably make some of the Chowhounds cringe.

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: gardencook

                                      I know you don't want to talk about price, but that is what would tell me what to expect. Regardless of the term you use, if it was $10 I might expect tea and scones, if it was $25, a selection of teas, scones with lemon curd and clotted cream and maybe fresh fruit. If it was $45, I'd expect the works, with "tea" sandwiches, a selection of teas and pastries, fresh fruit and curd/cream etc. That's based upon what I see at a nearby tea shop.

                                      1. re: escondido123

                                        Thanks escondido123. So you're saying the price matters as much as what we call it. That makes a lot of sense and these are the kinds of things we want to know that people are thinking.

                                        But calling it a "High Tea", you wouldn't expect a hearty meal with something like a savory meat pie, veg, and carbohydrate? You'd still expect the more, shall we say, "refined" menu with dainty foods, but with more food and more filling foods the higher the price?

                                        1. re: gardencook

                                          Well, the time of day would also affect what I would expect. I would say the best way to determine what Americans would expect, how much it would cost, and what it would be called is to go to one of the many "tea room" site---teamap.com is good because it lets you pick a tea room and see a menu, which of course tells you what they're called, what they serve and how much they charge. Best of luck.

                                          1. re: gardencook

                                            I would just call it a "tea" and leave it at that. If people want to know what they're getting, they can ask, can't they?

                                            1. re: shygirl

                                              This is what I've been leaning toward from the start. Thank you for confirming that this is perhaps the safest way to go. We were thinking of having the menu printed on the website and on the ticket so they know exactly what they are getting.

                                          2. re: escondido123

                                            Charity. Makes a difference. I know folks here that pay $150 for a plate of food the caterer charges $35 for. Willingly. It also depends what else is on the program for the event.

                                            1. re: wyogal

                                              I do agree with this--I mean, what tea (regardless of the name) is worth more than a few bucks? Your patrons are giving to the charity and the tea/snacks are just a bonus. However, if your patrons expect X and you give them Y, you risk losing their future patronage. Having worked fundraisers, you may be shocked to learn how finicky some folks are. I'd lean to just calling it a tea, describe the type of snacks offered (i.e., scones, cookies/biscuits, vs. sandwiches or other savories), just to give people a better idea.

                                              Good luck with your fund raising!

                                        2. I bet that most Americans would not know the difference between "high tea" and "afternoon tea". But, more importantly, who is your target audience? A more educated donor may very well know the difference. I think your organization would be better off calling it by the correct name, "afternoon tea". The Times does http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/11/tra...

                                          1. I think your organization will look much better if you use the correct term for the event you are planning rather than hope the people buying tickets are ignorant about the event.

                                            1. Yes, enough Americans know the difference. Call it what it really is to avoid disappointing donors. Set your hours outside of mealtimes so that expectation meets reality.

                                              Good luck with your event!

                                              1. Just because your 'area is not known for cultural or culinary forwardness' does not mean the people who chose to move to work or retire there don't have any, especially if said people are philanthropic and you are hoping those people will help your NonProfit in future endeavors.

                                                You/the group organizing the fund raising event make it sound as if the whole demographic is clueless about the rest of the world yet willing to donate money to any organization that asks. That sounds very condescending.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: Cathy

                                                  I didn't say the whole demographic is clueless. Please don't put "words" in my mouth.

                                                  1. re: Cathy

                                                    It's not condescending at all to wonder if certain terminology will bring about similar expectations among people with different experiences and upbringings.

                                                    1. re: SAHCook

                                                      Um, no. The OP knows that the terminology that one group wants to use is inaccurate and only going to be used because it "sounds" refined, yet is asking 'will Americans will know the difference?'

                                                      I contend that people will have an expectation, either immediately (because they do know) or subsequently (because they have the ability to research) and to even ask about the possibility of using incorrect terminology under the guise that potential donors won't know is in itself condescending.

                                                      1. re: Cathy

                                                        It's not condescending at all. It's like asking if people would know the difference between shrimp and prawns. After all, "Teas" are not an American tradition because we're coffee drinkers. I'm not going to argue with you about it because I think it's a perfectly legitimate and appropriate question. You have a right to your opinion. I disagree with it. Please don't respond if it's just to criticize my posts. I have no ill intentions with this thread.

                                                  2. Americans who say "High Tea" because they "think it sounds refined" are showing their ignorance. In the UK "High Tea" is a substantial early evening meal that includes meat or egg. I once saw a sign outside a department store in Norwich that read "Late Opening Tonight---High Tea---Fried Egg, Bacon, Sausage, Fried Fish, and Fried Bread". Hardly refined. High Tea began long ago when workers came home from the fields and factories.

                                                    1. Call it a champagne tea and pour bubbly with the sandwiches and sweets and several kinds of good tea.. Gives a good reason for raising the price. If they can do it at the Plaza Hotel, you can do it, too.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: lemons

                                                        Yes! Lots of interesting Champagnes, and also a string group, playing great music, while the patrons dine on finger-sandwiches, some cheeses, and those wonderful Champagnes - oh, and some interesting teas.


                                                      2. If this is a fund-raiser tea you can still have it be "tea" vs "high tea" by having an elaborate buffet table with a huge selection of fancy cakes and breads and tea sandwiches. Go for variety---chocolate layer, orange sponge, fruit-topped, custard-filled, layer, loaf, poundcake with glacee fruit, Austrian nut tortes, gingerbread, meringue tortes, angelfood---the sky's the limit. Small cakes, fruit tarts, little English cakes like Eccles and Bath and Banbury, brownies, lemon squares etc etc. All kinds of cookies. Fancy breads like banana, cranberry orange, cinnamon raisin. Small sandwiches---egg salad on wholewheat, cheese & tomato on white, baking powder biscuits with a bit of ham, salmon with mayonnaise and dill. Scones with strawberry jam. People would definitely get their money's worth. People involved in this effort could bake and contribute. Doing just "tea" you can go rip-roaring crazy and put on a wonderful show.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: Querencia

                                                          Oh, I want to go to one of YOUR tea parties!

                                                          1. re: shygirl

                                                            Shygirl, I am a one-woman advocate for inviting people to tea. In my long-ago youth I lived in an Anglo-Argentine (I had an English stepfather) community in Buenos Aires where tea was one of the four meals eaten every day and I have never since stopped lobbying for afternoon tea. It is the BEST meal for entertaining as everybody gets home afterward early enough to organize for work tomorrow and the hostess is not still cleaning up the kitchen at 2 AM as may be the case after a dinner party---there is a built-in sense of leisure. No matter how fancy you get, tea is not as expensive to put on as dinner, either, what with no roast beef or alcohol. And you can be as simple or elaborate as you like---a big tea table will knock 'em dead. In the US it sounds kind of uppity to say "Come for tea" but, have courage. As a girl I once brought both basketball teams home for tea after a game, causing a bit of a panic in our kitchen. I am unapologetic about inviting people for tea. People know when they are coming to my house for tea not to eat all day first.

                                                          2. re: Querencia

                                                            Oh my goodness. This sounds amazing! I don't think we're prepared to do anything very elaborate due to the amount of space we'll have available. We are a small community.

                                                          3. Def. in the camp of calling the event, "Afternoon Tea". And I like the idea of "Champagne Tea," or "Celebration Tea," and serving bubbled bevvies! Just the hint of a celebratory beverage can add $10 to the ticket cost :-P
                                                            The Charity can always list the menu on it's website, once tickets are released for sale. But, my personal expectations around food and menu choices are usually based on the time of the event; especially afternoon events. Keep the timing mid-afternoon, and most people will not expect a meal.
                                                            At $25, I would expect buffet-style service, with a selection of teas at a beverage station. But, if you can wrangle table-service and individual teapots, then $40-$50 seems perfectly acceptable for a fund-raiser.

                                                            1. For fifty bucks, offer up some kind of genteel spiked punch, all garnished with elegant orchids on the ice or something.

                                                              Find somebody with real talent who can do petits fours or something like that. Have them decorated with floral motifs. But no choked in fondant. Find some genius who can work a pastry tube with the skill and understatement of a Japanese calligrapher. You don't need to have a zillion of them. Most of your sweet offerings can look more understated, but have enough to provide eye candy. No big nasty tacky cakes.

                                                              Have some of the sandwiches you offer have upscale ingredients.

                                                              Find a chef/caterer who is smart, innovative and ambitious. Folks in all kinds of careers are struggling these days to get a break. If there are going to be guests at this event who might have their own events catered, that could help motivate. Taste before you hire. That research is a reasonable part of your budget and the samplings will be interesting and a bit of fun to compensate for the work your committee will be doing. Above and beyond that good feeling that comes from doing work for a good (this is a good one, right?) cause.

                                                              Lots of Luck!

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: PipentaCereal

                                                                the OP could make Pimms - very English and you can get em drunk!

                                                                1. re: PipentaCereal

                                                                  Thank you for the feedback and suggestions Karen and Pipenta!!

                                                                  1. re: PipentaCereal

                                                                    i'm sorry if this comment may literally be a premature buzz-kill-- but most nonprofits that do not have an onsite liquor license would have to obtain a temporary/event lq license in order to serve alcohol, even bubbly. your local jurisdiction legality may vary, but in many cases the cost to get the license may not offset the net monetary gain, unless you have a great many people attending.

                                                                    however, if you are set on a happy punch of some sort, a workaround for this might be to get a wine or spirits company to agree to donate alcohol as a sampling/promotion. generally you will credit the company on the event literature, and they in turn will take care of licensing costs, send a rep and donated product, and their staff will pour alcoholic libations.

                                                                    *do not* try to duck the local lq laws, as the consequences of this are much more serious than many folks realize.

                                                                  2. I live in the DC area and have been to "tea" at a number of restaurants and tea shops, but still, as an American, associate "high tea" with formality. Frankly, it doesn't sound like much fun. I'd call it afternoon tea and offer small sandwiches and desserts. No one will be expecting dinner at an afternoon tea and won't be annoyed at paying for a small amount of food. I hope... As for price, I'd easily pay $75 for a charity tea, but I live in an overpriced area.

                                                                    1. I am a big fan of invitations that spell out what is offered and expected. Example: Please join us for tea and light appetizers (or finger sandwiches, or cake). Business Casual attire (although business casual can be interpreted in wildly different ways, I suppose).

                                                                      I just want to know if I should plan to eat first/later or plan to eat there. I also kind of like to know whether it's a sit down meal or a light apps/walk around sort of deal.

                                                                      If you call it a tea you run the risk of people getting all dressed up for a fancy tea and then being disappointed when you don't break out the good silver tea services and pass out multi-tier trays of sweets and finger sandwiches.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: akq

                                                                        That makes lots of sense. Rarely will people complain if they get too much info about what to expect but getting none or little can lead to all kinds of issues.

                                                                      2. You are correct that many Americans don't know the difference between Tea and High Tea. In fact, they probably have it exactly backwards.

                                                                        That, however, is no reason to perpetuate the error. You have to do what is correct, regardless. People who DO know the difference will be confused and when they see what is served they'll consider the hosts ignorant.

                                                                        I agree with those who suggest calling it Afternoon Tea, followed by a description of what will be served.

                                                                        As an aside, when I was a child, my grandmother had tea every morning at 10 am. We generally just had tea, in china cups w/ sugar cubes and often a cookie. Anybody else? Or was that her own private tradition?

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. You are safe calling it Afternoon Tea or tea and light snacks. That way no one will expect a British supper with meat pies, and no one will expect an over-the-top "refined" tea party.
                                                                          My personal expectations would also depend on the charity involved and the community/context. I would never be expecting British-style "high tea" in North America because correct or not, the connotations are very different here.

                                                                          1. Americans definitely do not know the difference. You'll have to spell it out.

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: katydid13

                                                                              Well, there WILL be some, who WILL know. Do not sell everyone, in the USA, so short.


                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                Thank you. Even if we don't know everything, we are certainly capable of learning it when the occasion arises. Same as everyone else.

                                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                                  I agree. Life is a learning experience, and then you die.


                                                                            2. Some will know, some won't and will Google it, some won't know and won't care.

                                                                              1. It can depend, but finger-sandwiches, some sweets, tea, and maybe Champagne/sparklers.


                                                                                1. I hope you'll post back as to how this goes, both the naming and the event.

                                                                                  I'm all for "Tea" along with a description of what that means. "Serving..."

                                                                                  Go ahead and list the ideas on the invite. And, I don't think labeling it "high" or "afternoon" is worth while. Some members might disagree but I think you are right, "Tea" says enough, a small description will say more and ensure no one is disappointed.

                                                                                  I'm also for entertainment, chamber music can make people feel like they are getting more than finger sandwiches and cream dollops on scones. I love Tea, I'd be happy just having the American ideal with lemon anything and lots of cucumber thinly sliced...yum! But, too many people might expect something more solid, regardless of how they define High or Afternoon Tea.

                                                                                  It sounds like a fun idea and I hope it is very successful!

                                                                                  1. I think the best thing to do is give people info. Don't assume what they know, or do not know. Call it "Tea" and add a sentence or two, explaining what will be served.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: RosePearl

                                                                                      i think that's the best option -- if you just say "tea", then you're not defining it tightly -- if you call it "High Tea" you'll have to deal with the ones who knew that it's a working-class supper --- if you leave it a little bit nebulous and explain what will be served -- you don't tie yourself to a runaway complaining horse to be dragged through the bushes for having called it something they didn't think it should be.

                                                                                    2. gardencook, the OP, doesn't state her location and I can't figure it out from her profile...
                                                                                      That said, I'm wondering if she is in the South (and/or people involved with this event are of a Southern "bent")... I grew up helping my grandma when she hosted "tea" for her friends, the church circle, etc... the parties varied, based on season... iced tea/hot tea, indoors/outdoors, etc... but, it was always a refined gathering with light snacks (finger sandwiches, crudites (relish tray), deviled eggs, and sweets (mini tarts, mini cheesecakes, cookies, etc.) Always with best table linen, china, silver, etc. A Southern "tea" doesn't need any other explanation (high/afternoon). It's just a "tea"!

                                                                                      1. It just so happens I will be hosting a tea as a fundraiser next month. I'm calling it afternoon tea and serving two types of loose-leaf caffeinated tea, one decaf, finger sandwiches with cukes, egg, salmon, cress, etc., scones, tarts, and petit fours. I may also offer sherry or champagne--haven't decided yet, as this is a Methodist group and I don't want to offend anyone. I will note that mine is not a $50 fundraiser, but I've paid $50 for tea before (the Empress in Victoria, BC comes to mind) and this is basically what I was served. The key is to have a lot of very pretty pastries and sandwiches that are super fresh and taste delicious. For $50, I'd expect variety above all else.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: Isolda

                                                                                          The Plaza Hotel in NYC is currently charging $50 for tea, and additional,um, $20, I think, for a glass of bubbly. Just had it two months ago. When they say finger sandwiches, they refer to the 2nd and 3rd joints of my index finger. The Palm Court is, of course, lovely, but behind a wall of mirrors a band began to practice for a function that night, doing old Grateful Dead songs.

                                                                                        2. Returning to this thread after many days I would like to chime in to say that a) If anybody asked me to pay $75 for tea I would right away want to know WHY so maybe the poster who suggested calling the event a "Champagne Tea" has a point and then b) mentioning "Fund-raiser" might be a little blunt so could you add something like "In Aid of Our Local Zoo" or "To Build a Playground" or whatever the cause may be---so the brain can quicky switch from "What? Rip-off!" to "Mmm, champagne, and for such a good cause". thus, "CHAMPAGNE TEA: To Benefit Our Town's Unwed Mothers". Elegant.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: Querencia

                                                                                            All good points....I like the word "benefit". Much better than "fund-raiser".