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What is an English Tea?

Gold utensils with floral glassware set up for a fancy tea party.
Fancy Tea Party

Generations Arts & Education is hosting an English Tea! But what does that even mean? Let's talk about it.

When you look up types of English Teas, after you finish sorting through all the different ways tea is made, you find some interesting results. What is a High Tea? How is it different from Afternoon Tea? Is Elevenses real? Today we're going to answer those questions and explore these tea times a little bit more!

At the start of the day you have Elevenses. If you're not from the UK, you might have thought that Elevenses was just made up by J.R.R. Tolkien to fill out the Hobbit's eating schedule. It turns out, it's a real thing! Elevenses is named such because it takes place between breakfast and lunch, at around 11am. It usually involves a light snack paired with tea or coffee. It's essentially the same ritual as a morning coffee break, just with a more fun name.

The next tea time of the day is your Afternoon Tea. In the time of the 1840s it was common practice in the UK to have your dinners later in the day -around 8 or 9pm- and Anna Russell, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, found herself hungry in the middle of the day. She realized that having some tea helped her bridge the gap between lunch and dinner, so it became her tradition to have some tea and a snack. She also invited friends, and thus Afternoon Tea became a tradition of the wealthier people of the area.

Nowadays, Afternoon Teas are much fuller meals that often replace lunch and decrease your need for dinner, and they are fancy affairs. If you think tea parties always have lots of sandwiches, baked goodies, chocolates, and cakes, you're probably imagining a modern Afternoon Tea.

Lastly, in the evenings we have a High Tea. High Tea is generally taken straight after work, and it is served with filling and warm dishes that typically included meat and cheese. This tea-time became the main meal for most of the working class and is comparable to today's dinner meal.

So now you know what to expect from the different types of English Teas! There are so many different tea times to choose from! Do you have a favorite?

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