“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” – Henry James.
The recent revival of high tea has seen a new generation enjoying the delights of this grand old tradition. In the working classes of 17th century Britain a ‘high tea’ of filling, hearty foods, also known as ‘meat tea’ was perfect for mine and factory workers when they returned from a ten hour shift. However, afternoon tea was not exclusively for the working class, it was adopted by all social groups and adapted to their needs.
In the upper classes evening meals began to be taken later, between 8pm and 10pm, as men’s business meetings extended from lunch to late afternoon. This resulted in a longer break between meals for women waiting for their men to return home. Anna Maria Stanhope, the 17th century Duchess of Bedford, is understood to have first adopted the tradition by hosting the fashionable tea parties which gave women a social outlet to discuss topics not suited to mixed company. The practice of holding high tea on Sundays began in families who allowed their servants to attend church and not worry about cooking an evening meal for the family.
In the modern version of high tea, Chefs have the opportunity to pair beautiful teas with complementing cheese, desserts and other delicious fare as the food has become just as important as the tea. However, it is the occasion of indulging in high tea itself that is most celebrated today.
So it’s time to satisfy one’s pinky – view our high tea menu here!