English High Tea

Of all the stereotypical tokens of England, like the London Bridge, Buckingham Palace and double-decker busses, and tea tops the list. Tea is to England what apple pie is to America. English tea is steeped in tradition and more than a beverage of choice; it's also an important element in the social history of Britain. English High Tea is one of these traditions that are still an important element in the life of the British elite.

Many people imitate the practice of serving English high tea, but it's not easy to duplicate it. There are North American resorts, hotels and tearooms that will offer "English High Tea" with an array of sweets and pastries. These early afternoon parties are certainly elegant, but they are not bona fide "high teas".

To explore the proper method of serving English high tea, you must first understand a little bit about the history of England. The practice of taking high tea was first introduced when the people of England enjoyed two main meals each day: breakfast in the morning, and dinner in the evening.

Breakfast meals usually consisted of bread, beef and ale. The evening meal, however, was a veritable smorgasbord. This meal was served as the sun began to set, and would come to be known as "high tea".

A woman named Anna, Duchess of Bedford, was credited with introducing the form of English high tea that we know today. Fond of inviting friends to dinner, the Duchess would experiment with the menu as she served high tea. Other ladies of society began to follow suit, and "English High Tea" eventually became a popular time for social gatherings.

During the Industrial Revolution, in the second half of the Victorian Period, popularity of the English high tea gained momentum. Men and women worked hard during the day and returned home to prepare high tea for their evening refreshment.

The table was set with quick and easy food choices including bread and butter, cheese, meat, pickles and of course, a pot of tea. There were no fancy finger foods, tiny crust-less sandwiches or rich desserts that adorn today's mock "high tea" tables.

The name "high" tea may have stemmed from the fact that the evening dinner tea was served at a high dining table, rather than on lower tea tables.

If you want to impress your North American friends with a high tea party, some fancy sandwiches and sweets should do the trick. But if you're ever called to task and serve high tea to British guests, wait until the afternoon sun begins to fade, and serve your tea with some hearty fare. You'll score high points for your English high tea.

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About The Author, Sadie Bedgegood.
Contributor Sadie Bedgegood enjoys writing articles for a variety of popular Internet sites, on home improvement and home decorating themes. You are welcome to reprint this article - but get your own unique content version here.