English Tea Times Explained

Posted by Chris Newsom on Sep 24th 2018

English Tea Times Explained

The 911

Most of us have heard of Afternoon Tea, High Tea or even something called Elevenses, but what are they exactly? Here's a short primer on the three English tea times.


Elevenses is, surprise, tea served around 11 in the morning and is a late-morning work break that involves a light snack — think muffins, scones or biscuits — and a hot tea or coffee.

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea originated as a "bridge" between the light lunches and late dinners served in the early 1800's and is served between 3 and 4 pm. It is an elaborate affair with finger sandwiches and an array of scones, cakes, macaroons and other bits to nibble. Napkins in your lab and mind your manners!

High Tea

High Tea, despite its name, actually originated with the lower classes. For workers in the newly industrialized Britain, tea time had to wait until after work. This after-work meal was more often hot and filling and accompanied by a pot of strong tea. Calling it "high tea" is believed to have originiated as a way to differentiate between afternoon tea traditionally served on low, comfortable, relaxing chairs and the worker's after-work tea served at the table and seated on high back dining chairs.