The Duchess of Bedfordshire had what we could presently refer to as a mid-afternoon slump in the middle of the 1830s. She started eating a small meal in the afternoon that consisted of tea, sandwiches, and cake provided at a coffee table in her room because there was a long time between mid-morning breakfast and supper at 8 o’clock. She started by inviting her friends to join her for this lunch, and before long, the custom of having a sociable afternoon meal had spread to the rest of the nation.
Afternoon Tea, the affluent and distinctly British ritual also known as Low Tea, was thus formed. It would not be enough to support a worker from the lower class, but it would keep the leisurely ladies of the upper classes going until their evening meal. The practice is slightly reviving among the British populace, although it is still only consumed sometimes as a treat rather than as a normal meal.
Some of the disparities between the classes are reflected in the differences between High Tea and Low Tea. The non-working classes could not handle a large lunch at five o’clock when supper was served at eight, just as the working classes did not have time for leisurely afternoon meals. Even today, workers still frequently drink “tea” after work at approximately 6 o’clock, along with a cookie and some coffee to sustain them through the afternoon. These days, High Tea (without real tea) is still a common meal enjoyed by millions of people, but Afternoon (Low) Tea remains the exclusive domain of swanky hotels for birthday celebrations.
Most people associate “high tea” with afternoon tea, commonly referred to as “low tea,” which entails things like etiquette, lace, and delicate dishes. It was originally served on low tables and is frequently served in the middle of the day, therefore its two names.
Scones and finger sandwiches are the main items on an afternoon tea menu. There may also be marmalade, lemon curds, and herbed butter. Black teas like Earl Grey and Assam as well as herbal teas like chamomile and mint are popular choices for afternoon tea.
Why is it called “low tea”?
The most common place to enjoy afternoon tea commonly referred to as “low tea,” is at a low table like a coffee table in front of a warm fire.
It is a great way to enjoy teatime and entertain your guests, whether you prefer to offer a more opulent tea or organize a heartier lunch.
How to serve low tea
You have come to the correct spot if you are trying to find out more about low tea. Many individuals in Britain and other countries observe this brief mid-afternoon meal, which consists of tea and small snacks that are often consumed while relaxing in a drawing or sitting room. To gracefully hold you and your guests over between lunch and dinner, read on to discover how to serve low tea.
1. Making the tea
- Boil the water
- Use a fine teapot
- Warm the teapot
- Brew the tea
- Boil some extra water to dilute the tea
2. Making the snacks
- Bake or buy some fresh scones
- Choose jam and cream to pair with the scones
- Make some savory snacks
- Pick some sweet treats
- Arrange the snacks on a tiered server
3. Serving the meal
- Choose the right time
- Prepare the tea condiments
- Set the table
- Pour tea for your guests
- Get guests to serve themselves food
- Sit down and enjoy your tea
Some fun facts you may not know about low tea
It is a beloved British custom, but how did low tea get started and how has it changed over time? As we explore our favorite facts about this distinctly English past hour, put your feet up, and prepare a cup of your preferred tea.
- Afternoon tea is credited to Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, who is supposed to have created it in the 1840s. Anna frequently had midday hunger, so she requested that a pot of tea and a snack be prepared for her. She gradually began inviting her friends to join her, and a tradition was established.
- Over the years, it became customary for women to don different outfits for afternoon tea. Records from the 1880s reveal that upper-class and society ladies would don lengthy dresses, gloves, and hats before taking their tea, indicating a formal setting.
- High Tea is often offered from 5 to 7 p.m., whereas Low Tea is typically served from 2 to 5 p.m.
- Gin and ale were the most popular alcoholic beverages up to the middle of the 18th century. When the tea arrived, the trend altered, and it quickly overtook coffee as the most consumed beverage in Britain.
- Before the turn of the century, afternoon tea did not feature scones. According to popular belief, the Dutch term “schoonbrot,” which translates to “beautiful bread,” is where the word “scone” (however you say it!) originated.
- To commemorate PG Tips’ 75th anniversary, Boodles Jewelers produced the costliest tea bag ever. The purse, which was covered with diamonds, was worth £7,500.
- To preserve fine China, historically, milk was placed into the cup before the tea.
- Where you are in the nation has a significant impact on several parts of afternoon tea etiquette. When it comes to the age-old debate of whether to put jam or cream on your scone first, local custom dictates that Devonians put the cream on first and then the jam if you are from Cornwall.
- The British practice of dipping biscuits into tea was highlighted by low tea, and it was afterward adopted by many people all over the world.
Due to the comfortable seats and low tables in the drawing rooms of magnificent manor homes, where afternoon tea was usually served, the term “Low Tea” was quickly created. Therefore, low tea is only another name for afternoon tea.