Afternoon Tea vs. High Tea | What’s The Difference?

Traditional afternoon tea at Gorse Hill, Surrey

While many people may believe afternoon tea and high tea are similar, they're two very different traditions. 

In a nutshell, afternoon tea is an elegant affair with tea, scones, sandwiches and cakes. Alternatively, high tea is a heartier meal featuring tea, bread, vegetables, cheese and occasionally meat. It could also include pies, potatoes, and crackers. 

Keep reading to delve further into this topic!

hearty afternoon tea bites, sausage roll, burger at gorse hill in surrey

Difference Between High Tea And Afternoon Tea

High tea and afternoon tea may seem similar as both consist of a meal accompanied by tea however there's many differences. 

Afternoon tea began in the early 19th century as an upper-class tradition. People enjoyed a delicious meal with tea in the mid-afternoon before dinner.

Back then tea was expensive so the working class couldn't afford it for anything other than necessities.

In industrial areas like northern England and southern Scotland the working class had their version called high tea which was served in the early evening.

Another difference is where they were enjoyed. Afternoon tea (often called "low tea") was typically savoured while sitting in low, comfy chairs or sofas. In contrast, high tea was traditionally served at a high table.

To sum it up, afternoon tea was more of a social event for the upper class while high tea was a necessary meal for the working class.

finger sandwiches from afternoon tea at gorse hill in surrey

Is Afternoon Tea The Same As High Tea?

We've highlighted that afternoon tea and high tea are two different traditions but in modern times it’s important to note that what's called "afternoon tea" in the UK is often labelled as "high tea" in many other parts of the world.  

Because of this some venues call their afternoon tea "high tea" because many of their customers are from overseas. 

Certain venues also provide an exclusive high tea menu alongside their afternoon tea, featuring additional savoury options.
We hope you liked our article on "Afternoon Tea vs. High Tea | What's the Difference?".

If you're interested in more food-related reads check out "Why Do We Eat Mince Pies At Christmas?".

And if you're craving a delicious Afternoon Tea in Surrey don't forget to make a reservation with us at Gorse Hill.

delicious traditional afternoon tea at gorse hill in surrey

Frequently Asked Questions Related To: Afternoon Tea vs. High Tea

Q: What should I wear to high tea?
A: Most high tea venues have a smart-casual dress code. You can consider wearing a dress or pairing a skirt with a top.

Q: What traditional items are served at a high tea?
A: There are no strict rules for the food in a high tea, but a typical menu includes meat dishes such as steak and kidney pie, seasoned potatoes, and devilled eggs.

Q: Is afternoon tea still a thing in England?
A: In modern Britain people typically have afternoon tea as an occasional treat or to mark special occasions like birthdays or baby showers with family and friends

Q: Why is afternoon tea British?
A: Afternoon tea is a part of English history. It began in the 1800s when Anna (the 7th Duchess of Bedford) who was a friend of Queen Victoria and well-known in London society, complained of feeling hungry in the late afternoon. This led to the creation of afternoon tea!

Q: What is served at afternoon tea?
A: An afternoon tea menu should consist of cakes, pastries, scones, and sandwiches. Common sandwich fillings include smoked salmon, coronation chicken, or egg mayonnaise. These dainty sandwiches are traditionally served with the crusts removed.