Tea & Coffee – High & Low

teatime3What Time Is Tea? ~

One of the first things that seem to confuse people is what’s the difference between High and Low tea? And this really is an important difference!

Not only are they served at different times of the day, but their menus are also significantly different. So it pays to know what Low Tea and High Tea really means. Because it’s not only the type of table you prepare your servings upon.

Now to get an idea of tea times, consider the typical day of Ladies and Gentlemen in times gone by. Which means what we think of as High and Low tea, is based on a typical Victorian Era day. 

The day often started about 8:00 in the morning with coffee and breakfast.
Lunch would be served around noon or 1:00 in the afternoon.
Dinner was served around 8:00 to 9:00 at night.

So between lunch and dinner, ladies and gents would have a late afternoon snack type meal to carry them over to dinner.

Low Tea:
Is an afternoon tea to keep folks from enduring a grumbling tummy. Low tea is usually about 4:00pm and traditionally it’s served in a drawing room or sitting room with finger-sized dainty tea sandwiches, scones and sweets. All beautifully arranged on low tables, such as a coffee table. Thus the phrase “Low Tea” to connect it with the low standing coffee/tea tables. 


As time has gone by, having an afternoon tea at a dining table, especially for a garden tea has become acceptable. But that doesn’t change the name of your event, nor does it change the time it’s offered or the type of menu you prepare. Bottom line, it does not make your event in the afternoon a “high tea”.

High Tea:
Is another title for Dinner. Served later in the evening with a full meal including soups, meats, and varying forms of vegetables. It was high tea because it was served formally at the “high” dining table. Keep in mind that these events were held in upper class homes, where sitting areas, parlors and dining areas were all kept for entertaining in their proper time and place. Even though this isn’t true today, the type of table isn’t what dictates high or low tea. Rather it’s the time of day and the menu that’s important. 


Garden Tea:
Often served between 2:30 and 4:00pm. Of course, it’s served outside. In these cases, a small high table is preferred, but an outdoor low table can also be used.


Modern Tea:
Today tea time is held whenever one feels like scheduling a party. Usually after noon and before 5:00pm. Late tea is also a common favorite today, being held after 7:00pm and before 9:00pm. And the tables also vary greatly. Modern afternoon tea is generally held on a high, but small dining table. And garden tea can be served on a table, or on a serving cart that allows guest to gather their treats and sit anywhere in the garden. 

moderntea gardentea2

In today’s busy schedules and rushing here and there, when you hold your tea time is entirely up to you. Stick to the tradition of Victorian Era Low and High tea for your menus however. Have a Garden party or invite your closest friends to an anytime modern tea. I’m sure what ever you choose, everyone will have a good time.

VR-Hanko ~ All Rights Reserved ©

 © 2013 Victoria’s Rose ~ All Rights Reserved.

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