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Afternoon Tea was a social creation of Anna Russell, Duchess, of Bedford in the early 19th Century... Read More
The drinking of tea not only became popular with the upper class but the working class too. As the working class did not usually finish their working day until around 6pm & were famished by this time, they wanted something more substantial than dainty sandwiches & cakes. So around 6 or 7pm they would have 'High Tea' which was more of a family meal than a social gathering. They had this in lieu of dinner so it was a heavier meal than the upper classes 'Afternoon Tea' which they had as well as their dinner. 'High Tea' consisted of a mug of tea, pot pies, bread, vegetables, cheese, & occasionally meat,
'High Tea' was served & eaten at a high table whilst seated on high back dining chairs, this is where the name 'High Tea' comes from.
Afternoon Tea which is also known then as 'Low Tea' was more of a social occasion for the upper class with its own rules of etiquette. This was served in middle of the afternoon on low tables with lace table clothes & doilies, by low comfortable parlour chairs, sofas or whilst relaxing in the garden.
To sum up: Afternoon Tea was originally taken by upper class to fill a gap in the middle of the day, this consisted of tea, dainty sandwiches & cakes. Which was served on low tables by comfortable parlour chairs or whilst relaxing in the garden.
Whilst 'High Tea' was taken by the working class after a long days work, they had this in lieu of dinner, it was a heavier more substantial meal than Afternoon Tea & was served at a high tables whilst seated on high back chairs.
Afternoon Tea was more of a luxury where as High Tea was more of a way of life. This is still true today, Afternoon Tea is still a social occasion with cake stands filled with delicious dainty sandwiches, scones, cakes & pastries. Served with a pot of tea in dainty teacups or occasionally a glass of champagne, on lovely lace table clothes, doilies. High Tea is still around too but is today better known as 'Tea' or 'Tea Time' it is still a family occasion usually taken a few hours after children have finished school, this still consists of more substantial very homely meals.