Afternoon Tea

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

afternoon tea one of a pair of meals (the other being high tea), both of which are essentially British and which, although alike in having tea as the beverage served, stand in high contrast to each other.

‘There is Tea and Tea,’ said Mrs Beeton (1861). ‘A “High Tea” is where meat takes a more prominent part and signifies really, what is a tea-dinner … The afternoon tea signifies little more than tea and bread-and-butter, and a few elegant trifles in the way of cake and fruit.’ In that distinction lay a chasm of class, geography, and manners.