High tea, low tea, lunch, or dinner–it depends on how posh you are

by allthoughtswork

Image result for high tea funny

I’m American, we don’t drink tea, or if we do, we do it ironically and with great fanfare and carbohydrates. Usually at baby showers.

I always thought “tea” was that thing you do when you can’t make it to a late evening meal without committing hangry murders. We call it “I think there’s a Starbuck’s on the next block.” But tea IS dinner in England. Or, rather, high tea is dinner except when it’s supper but only between 5 and 7 and only for the working class. The rest use higher tables.

I’m getting hangry.


Image result for high tea funny

The comments section of an etiquette column I like to pick apart started it all, maybe some Brits out there can finish it. Pass me a cucumber sandwich.

Rentian said:
“High Tea” is the evening meal, associated with the working class, and eaten between 5 pm and 7 pm. In most of the United Kingdom working class people call their midday meal “dinner” and their evening meal “tea”, whereas the upper classes would call their midday meal “lunch” and the evening meal “dinner” (if formal) or “supper” (if informal). This differentiation in names is one of the classic markers of English social status. The “high” tea is taken on a high (dining) table; by contrast, low tea, which was more of a light snack, was served on a low table – what would be called a coffee table in North America.
WonderfulWorld replied:
What is now known as ‘tea’ didn’t really get going until the late 1800’s (almost the end of them) when society dinners began being served later and later. Ladies who had eaten luncheon at noon found themselves in need of a little sustenance at around 4 or 5 pm. They’d put on ‘teagowns’ (dresses without needed corsets) and invite close friends up to the boudoir for some tea, sandwiches and gossip. Naturally, this would put the servants on their mettle and cooks vied with one another to come up with the tastiest little delicacies.
Nice life.
Image result for high tea funny
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3 Comments to “High tea, low tea, lunch, or dinner–it depends on how posh you are”

  1. ha, had this very argument/discussion amongst my Wednesday afternoon drinking pals a couple of weeks ago

    there was a definite north-south divide – basically, me and a fellow Scot, and a couple from yorkshire call the mid-day meal ‘dinner’ and the evening meal ‘tea’ while the posh gits amongst us and them from the south of england call the mid-day meal ‘lunch’ and the evening meal ‘dinner’


    • Well, then, so far I’m posh. Or just Midwestern. We had breakfast, lunch, and supper with family but supper became dinner around friends and strangers.

      For instance, a date consisted of dinner and a movie. If he suggested supper and a movie, the lady would assume he was living in a basement and his mother was still washing his shorts and the lady would be right. Supper was an informal word among intimates, like calling a blanket a blankie.

      I met a guy once who said he didn’t drink wine because it made his tummy upset. I have no idea where he is today.


  2. I like your title:)
    I never fully understand the high tea myself. I love to have a high tea around 3pm (if any) especially after exploring the city, so I can rest and eat (mostly to eat since I like cakes and sweet).

    I experienced high tea in Singapore where it served from 3-5pm and it was full buffet like dinner and not the British high tea. It was interesting though and oh boy… I ate soo much and can’t have dinner after that.


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