Afternoon Tea in the Victorian Era

   (cont. from page 18)

...finger sandwiches, sweets, scones, and tea.) Some tea rooms offer more planned seating times and offer an earlier seating and a later, more traditional seating.

Cream Tea is also popular. Cream Tea is tea served with only scones, clotted cream, and jam. This is popular in England and a nice offering early in the day or later in the day as a delicious, quick treat.

The fashion of taking tea by English socialites was emulated by affluent ladies in the United States. The mini meal presented an opportunity for ladies to have a social event.

At first - tea - was very expensive and hard to come by. In fact, it was not uncommon to keep the precious stock of tea locked up in tea caddies - away from servants. As tea became more popular and more available, tea leaves were more affordable for all and it was served throughout the day. In Britain, mealtimes at which tea is served are also referred to as Tea.

Have you heard of High Tea? High Tea sounds so grand, doesn’t it? Surely this is why it is most confused with what is really termed Afternoon Tea. High Tea refers to a working class supper time, later in the day, a high time of day and served at a higher table than the low tables used at Afternoon Tea.

During the Industrial Revolution, the second half of the Victorian Era, working class families would return home exhausted after a long day. The table would be set with foods like Welsh rabbit, shepherd's pie, steak, bread, butter, potatoes, pickles, cheese and tea. This late supper is High Tea.

Since Afternoon Tea was popularized during Queen Victoria’s Reign, it is interesting to note more about her in particular. Queen Victoria was Born 1819 and ruled for 63 years until her death in 1901. Victoria's monarchy placed a strong emphasis on morality and family values. Victoria's reign created for Britain the concept of the 'family monarchy' with which the middle classes could identify.

Afternoon Tea has always brought people together. It is a bonding experience for women and it has also become a popular party plan for children and adults as it represents civility, proper use of manners, and a strong way to bond and support one another.

So, what do you call this wonderful afternoon social event over tea? Afternoon Tea is the proper terminology, but many tea rooms and hotels refer to it as High Tea. We won’t send the tea police after you, but do know that the proper term is Afternoon Tea. Whatever you call it, Afternoon Tea is a very pleasing retreat from our busy lives.  A wonderful Afternoon Tea experience can take one to two hours to properly enjoy. Be sure to make the time for yourself, because you deserve it. Invite friends, family, and even business colleagues for Afternoon Tea. It will be time well spent!

by Gail Gastelu
Photo Credit: Tea Time Entertaining

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