Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Victorian Culture: High Tea

A cup of tea!

Not to be a completly crass reporter, I have included a small article on tea, one of the defining items of Victorian culture...

Afternoon tea seems inexorably linked with the British. The Duchess of Bedford is credited with founding this tradition. By the Victorian era, the custom of afternoon tea was practiced more or less by most inhabitants of the British Isles, and elsewhere in the British Empire.
High tea as a variant of afternoon tea was not a development of the rich and powerful as its name implies. Instead of the normal sandwiches and scones, high tea was a hearty meal, usually with meat, taken around four in the afternoon. Laborers often had high tea to hold them over to the next meal, as four to five hours might still remain in their workday. Conversely, traditional afternoon tea is also taken at approximately four, but the food offerings are light. The meal may include small bread and butter sandwiches, cucumber or watercress sandwiches, and perhaps small, light cakes.
The intent of afternoon tea is as much social as it may be satisfying. An afternoon tea might be suggested as the perfect meeting for friends, but it was also a traditional time for families to convene, particularly if school children had arrived home needing a snack. In boarding schools, the same need for sustenance and socialization prevailed.
Teas chosen for afternoon tea tend to be light in nature. Popular choices include Earl Grey, tea flavored with bergamot, and Lady Grey, also enhanced with bergamot but containing some light citrus flavors as well. Some prefer Darjeeling, Lapsang Souchong, or Ceylon. Varieties today may simply be packaged as “Afternoon Tea.” Even though tea was traditionally the beverage of choice, coffee might also be offered.
When afternoon tea was held as a large social gathering, food offerings might differ significantly. Along with the traditional sandwiches, complex cakes, pastries, and crumpets laden with butter would perhaps be offered. Devonshire clotted cream might be on the table as well. This difference signified that afternoon tea was in fact a cream tea, as it is known in Devonshire and Cornwall. It is also the way most non-British people think of tea, as something quite fancy.


A hostess ready to serve high tea

I have noticed some tea-parties among the ladies in Caledon as of late, but tea isn't just for the ladies, you know... it is for the late afternoon, no matter the circumstance... (e.g. during a Cricket match, sessions of parliment, fighting savages, airship battles - nothing should stop a proper Victorian from his or her tea!)

For further information regarding tea and tea time, please refer to:






Kira said...

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kiralette kelley

Dr. Rafael Fabre said...

Madam, I'm honored you'd be willing to do so - tyvm!