If my blog had been up and running during William and Kate’s wedding, this would have been the perfect blog post topic, because the media was constantly getting their tea time terminology completely and absolutely WRONG! It really bothered me on several levels. First of all, I have a background in broadcast journalism and realize the importance of always reporting your facts correctly. Second of all, I really like tea and know just a little bit about it because I study it all the time. It’s my little hobby…the only thing in my life that doesn’t revolve around the 100% mommy-kid thing (not that kids are bad— I love being a mommy!) so I get a bit annoyed when wrong information is reported to millions of people about tea! So with that being said, it is important to know your tea time terminology, especially if you claim to be a fan of the royals. Read this and then you can speak intelligently if tea time ever enters your conversation. There are a few common misconceptions about high tea and low tea and all other names for British snacks and meals!
1. Referring to tea time as “High Tea” doesn’t necessarily make you sound lofty, intelligent and worldly. In fact, if you talk about high tea in the right circles, but in the wrong context…then you will be thought of as just the opposite: Ignorant. Interestingly enough, many of us Westerners start talking about high tea, and see mental images of delicate finger sandwiches and scones carefully arranged on a table adorned with intricately laced doilies and the best silver. I hate to ruin it for you, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Historically, high tea was a heavy meal of meat and potatoes crudely set atop high tables and scarfed down by the working class. The hearty meal and hot tea was a welcome treat for laborers who often spent their days outdoors working in the fields and factories. Eat. drink. leave the table and go to work again. That about sums it up. (not as beautiful as you thought, is it?)
2. Low tea (or afternoon tea–it is the same thing) is actually what most people are thinking about when they talk about high tea. Low tea is the tea time romanticized in literature, movies, and the minds of women everywhere who yearn for a pretty little afternoon break where the responsibilities of modern times could be tossed out as easily as spent tea leaves. Low tea was served in the afternoon on, well, lower tables than high tea. It was often a tea time with a social flare. You invited friends, family and often gossiped and griped about the latest happenings. Sometimes you would show up in a special tea gown. The flowers, the silver, the fine china, the doilies and the scones would all make their appearance when afternoon tea was served.
I hope this information helps improve your tea time terminology. Of course, if you have reached my blog — then you may already know these things. In that case, sorry to insult your intelligence. Regardless, the next time you find yourself talking tea, perhaps you can contribute to the conversation in an intelligent and meaningful way! Steep.sip.smile!