Tuesday, June 24, 2008
SO WHAT ARE WE HAVING-- HIGH TEA, LOW TEA, MY TEA, YO TEA, GO-TEA?!!
What's the difference? Is there any difference? Why there most certainly is! It's funny that many of us well-meaning (Gotta love us) Americans get it wrong. Hey, it's not our fault though. So many traditions ended or were watered down (or forgotten over time) after we came to America, and we just eventually stopped doing things completely or came up with our own way. What can we say? We gained our independence and left some things behind us. :) BUT, if you find yourself, for whatever reason, needing to know the difference (or if you're just remotely interested), let the tea-cha inform you.
When we say "high tea," what we usually mean is chit-chatting over an elaborate, doily-laced spread of tea, scones, and finger sandwiches served from silver-tiered trays and other pretty dishes. WRONG! What is "high tea" then? "In fact, the event being represented is afternoon tea, or LOW tea. The problem is that many Americans equate the word “high” with class and formality. In fact, the word “high” refers to the height of the serving table: high tea is served at a high dinner table, while low tea is traditionally served on low tables in a sitting room. So, what’s what? High tea is a full meal served at around 5 or 6 PM. It is usually associated with the members of the lower classes, who were hungry after a long day at work (often with no break). Low tea is a light meal traditionally begun at 4 or 5 PM and ending before 7 PM. It is associated with the high class, who saw it more as a social occasion than a meal and used it to stave off hunger between an early lunch and a late dinner. Think of high tea as a meal and low tea as “finger foods.” Or remember etiquette savant Judith Martin’s quip regarding the confusion: “It’s high time we had something to eat.” Taken from an article at www.veetea.com/site/articles (I couldn't have said it better myself!)
So what else is there to know? Have you heard of "cream tea" or "elevenses?" Okay, well, since I have and, if you don't know, I'll tell ya. Cream tea is just a very simple occasion where usually there is only tea and scones with clotted cream and jams involved. Elevenses is equivalent to the American morning coffee break, except with tea and a simple snack. How fun are these for a quick, simple moment with your favorite tea?! I think I'm going to start having more cream tea and "elevenses" moments. How about you? Get to know your neighbor over cream tea, have a quick breakfast with your spouse before one or both of you is out of the door with an elevenses or surprise him/her when they come home for lunch. Introduce your family to the tradition of high tea as just a cool, little history lesson, and of course, have low tea with friends.
That's your lesson and instruction for the day. The tea-cha is out!