Bond Over Afternoon Tea
The tradition of afternoon tea reportedly started in the early 1800s by the duchess of Bedford, whose appetite grew strong in the early afternoon and thus invited her friends around for a fancy affair. This first recorded afternoon tea started included sandwiches, a slice of cake and of course tea! Little did she know that the occasion would be carried through the ages to become the popular event that it now is!
History Of High Tea
The ceremony is now enjoyed all over the world in hotels, restaurants, private houses and more. Even Queen Elizabeth II herself is known to have a tea, a jam sandwich and occasionally even a cheeky slice of cake at 4-o-clock in the afternoon most days. It is also known all around the world by different names such as ‘high tea’ or different variations such as ‘bottomless brunch’ all with slightly different times, foods, drinks and etiquette. There is a bit of contention surrounding the differences between High tea and Afternoon tea. Some believe that they are one in the same and are merely referred to differently depending on which country you're from.
Whereas traditionalists may argue that Afternoon tea is served some time between 3 and 5 pm with tea and small treats such as finger sandwiches, scones and desserts, compared to High tea acting as an early dinner, served around 5pm and having a meat dish component to it. Some even propose that High tea was named after the fact that it was eaten at a table compared to Afternoon tea usually occurring in low seating such as comfortable chairs or sofas. For the sake of our readers’ sanity, we are going to consider the two terms interchangeably in this article.
Despite all the different names and similar variations, it is the perfect event for mothers day, a birthday, a girls catch-up, or even just an excuse to get dressed up with and eat delicious treats paired with tea or a tantalising glass of champagne. The next time you attend an Afternoon tea, make sure to realise you're taking part in a tradition that's over 170 years old! Initially originating among the upper classes of England during the 1840s, Afternoon tea only trickled down to the middle classes as a widespread tradition much later in the 19th century. Obviously those in the working class enjoyed a much more modest Afternoon tea than that of the wealthy classes, which was usually a pre-packed meal that often consisted of a small sandwich or possibly baked snack (such as a scone) to go with fresh tea. On the other hand, the upper classes of England indulge in a decadent spread of flavours including Sandwiches that were filled with expensive produce such as cucumber, egg, cress, fish paste, ham, and smoked salmon to name but a few. The dessert portion would be just as luxurious featuring scones with jams, cakes with fruit and even delicate pastries.
With High tea, everything from the attire to the etiquette is carefully considered and very much part of the joyous ceremony itself. A trp for all the men out there preparing for a high tea occasion; leave the t-shirt and baggy jeans combo in the wardrobe, this is more of a formal affair. The iconic 5 star luxury hotel in New York, the Waldorf Astoria still requires men to wear jackets to high tea and will turn away eager customers if they fail to meet this standard. Despite this, most venues these days have a relaxed 'smart casual' dress code so don’t stress too much.
For the ladies, the rules are a lot more lenient however some general guidelines still apply. Hats, gloves and brightly coloured dresses are often spotted at a standard high tea and black is customarily deemed inappropriate for a tea party. Now let's talk about High tea etiquette. It may seem quite uptight to have such a clear set of conditions to the occasion however once you embrace them it all becomes part of the fun. One of the first ‘rules’ is that you must not lift your saucer from the table, guests should only hold the saucer and teacup together if they are standing or sitting with no table in front of them. It is also important to not wrap your hands around your teacup as you might do with a big mug of coffee on a brisk morning at home. It is also considered rude to over stir your tea until it starts to clink on the tea cup, super traditionalists even go as far to say that the spoon should start at the 6 o'clock position in the cup and fold the tea towards the 12 o'clock position. Guests must also not forget to take the spoon out of the cup and place it on the saucer to the side. As for the tea itself, do not expect a teabag. A strainer will become useful as it will be loose leaf tea being poured from a teapot. The tea goes first into the teacup, followed by the milk - cream will not be accepted. Thankfully the type of tea and the brewing time remains a free choice to the individual. Now for all your biscuit dunking fanatics out there, this act is perceived as unthinkable in the High tea universe! Whilst there is nothing wrong with a cheeky dunk into your tea, we advise to save this one for the privacy of your own home. It is also expected that one should eat their food in the proper order, which follows the classic savoury to sweet order, starting with the sandwiches, then the scones, and finally the sweets and desserts. It must also be known that the ‘pinkie out’ method of holding your teacup is a big no no! This misconception originated from wealthy people eating their treats with three fingers to differentiate themselves from commoners who would hold the treats with all five fingers.
High Tea Experiences Around The Globe
If you're looking for a fantastic High tea outing with a mum, a girlfriend, a wife, a bestie or even a group of lads, look no further than some of the fantastic options available on Gifting Owl around the globe. It’s a great excuse to get all dressed up, revel in the company of your friends and enjoy some delicious snacks and ridiculous traditions! Operating in Brisbane, Australia, comes the unforgettable Bottomless Bubbles High Tea Cruise. The combination of luxurious river cruise with High tea makes for a fantastic afternoon perfect for big groups or even couples as long as no one is prone to seasickness! A 2.5 hours of decadent food, great company, and sunshine on the deck and did we mention bottomless bubbles! Enjoy as much champagne as your heart desires whilst experiencing the old world charm of the iconic timber paddle wheelers.
Alternatively, Melbourne offers the perfect romantic High tea exclusively for couples with the Picnic Parlor Romantic High Tea Experience. This affordable package includes a private room for the two of you that has been elegantly styled and arranged. It also features a dynamic range of boutique teas, complimentary bottles of De Bortolli Sparkling Curvee and a choice of eight delicious menu selections. The room also comes fitted with candles for mood light and a beautiful working fireplace making it the perfect choice for a cold winter’s day.
For a luxurious High tea experience that includes a bit of sightseeing look no further than the Abu Dhabi Private High Tea At Emirates Palace With Free City Tour. After a tour of the amazing city that includes a stop at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and driving through Yas and Saadiyat Islands settle in for an delectable afternoon High tea at the Emirates palace, a remarkable hotel that reflects a significant part of Abu Dhabi's culture and heritage. This multi-billion dollar building has become a significant Abu Dhabi landmark and makes for the perfect place to enjoy a luxurious tea party. Enjoy the palace's infamous chocolate cake along with your choice of coffee or tea as you admire its dazzling architectural beauty.
We can’t mention all these incredible Afternoon tea experiences without listing one from the country of origin itself, England. For those travelling to London, the Luxe London Dessert Tour is the one for you. With this tour guests will get the chance to explore some of the most opulent areas of central London, where the famous and wealthy live and play. Also on the cards is visiting the Queen's very own grocer, sampling some of the world-class desserts and visiting one of the most lavish and outlandish chocolate stores ever created. Whilst this isn’t the most traditional high tea experience, it bares all the right ingredients and even gives insider knowledge into how the Queen herself has her Afternoon tea!
No matter who you are buying for, Gifting Owl has got you covered for some unforgettable High tea experiences. All Gifting Owl vouchers are fully interchangeable so your gift can't go wrong. Happy gifting!