High Tea History
It all started back in 1840 with Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford (1788-1861). She found that she was becoming hungry in the afternoons and couldn’t wait until dinner which wasn’t served until 8 or 9 pm. Who can blame the poor Duchess - we all know how unpleasant a hungry tummy is. The kitchen staff began sneaking her a cup of tea and a plate of treats. She soon started inviting friends to join her for an afternoon meal at five o'clock in her rooms at Belvoir Castle. The practice of inviting friends to come for tea in the afternoon was quickly picked up by other social hostesses and the tradition of afternoon tea was born.
The term high tea refers to tea that is taken on a high chair at the dining table and opposed to Low Tea which is served on a coffee table or side table by a lounge chair. Royale Tea is a social tea served with champagne and Celebration Tea is another variation of afternoon tea with a celebratory cake which is also served alongside the other sweets.
High Tea Etiquette
Far be it for us to tell you how to enjoy your tea, but for those that are interested, here are a few tips.
- Pick up your cup and saucer together, holding the saucer in one hand and the cup in the other.
- When stirring your tea, avoid making noises by touching the sides of the cup.
- Never leave your spoon in the cup, and avoid sipping tea from your spoon.
- Milk should be poured into the cup after the tea.
- Lemon slices should be neatly placed in the teacup after tea has been poured.
- Never add lemon with milk, as the citric acid will cause the milk to curdle.