At that time the English only ate two meals – breakfast and dinner. To ease her afternoon cravings, the duchess began preparing small snacks accompanied by tea. She started inviting friends for afternoon tea and it soon became a popular custom amongst the other upper class ladies.
Traditionally high tea was served in the early evening as a hearty meal served seated at a high table and enjoyed amongst the working class. Modern high tea is nowadays regarded as an elegant, formal tea party. Afternoon tea is a more informal event that takes place outside or in a lounge. It includes snacks such as light sandwiches, scones and cream, cakes, pastries, cookies and other dessert items.
There is no need to keep your pinky up when drinking tea; in the olden days it was a graceful way to balance the cup because porcelain teacups made in China had no handles. If you like the custom, make sure your pinky is not straight up in the air, but slightly tilted.
Try out these ideas:
Alice in Wonderland
For a playful springtime tea on the lawn, combine florals and polka dots in bright colours. Mix and match are the keywords here.
Invite the earl and lady
For an original tea setting, paint your tea table or tray with blackboard paint to create a dramatic backdrop on which you can write. Polish your pewter or silver tea set, select blossoms from the garden and add whimsical decorations. The result will be elegant yet spring fresh.
Tea in the forest
For a tea setting with a difference, stay clear of fine china. Opt for rustic, earthy crockery and organic decorations from the garden such as moss, tree trunk slices, bark, fungi and dried pods.
Romantic High Tea
Hold a classical and feminine tea party using antique porcelain teacups, collectable vases with spring flowers in them and delicately decorated cakes and fine pastries.