Gransnet forums


High tea

(41 Posts)
varian Sat 15-May-21 10:54:58

Esther Walker, writing in the "i" advises us that "High tea-is another way to have people round without really having them round. What with the popularity of Bridgerton and the new production of Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love, I predict a High Tea renaissance. High Tea differs from bog-standard teatime with the addition of savoury foods, such as cut sandwiches and devilled eggs, alongside usual teatime headliners such as scones and tiny cakes. "

Surely what Esther Walker is describing is "Afternoon tea" NOT "High tea"!

High tea, certainly in Scotland when I was growing up, was a family meal eaten around 6pm consisting of a main course, usually hot, such as fish and chips, macaroni cheese, or mince and potatoes with veg, followed by a cup of tea with bread and butter, biscuits and/or cake or fruit tart.

Afternoon tea was enjoyed by ladies of leisure in the elegant restaurants of department stores. A waitress in a black dress, frilly apron and frilly headgear would serve dainty sandwiches - egg and cress, cucumber, salmon, followed by scones or tea bread, fancy biscuits, cream buns, slices of fruit cake, chocolate cake or victoria sponge, and individual cakes such as meringues, eclairs or iced fancies. All served on delicate plates and silver plated cake stands.

I once had a similar, very expensive afternoon tea in Fortnum and Masons so I don't think it's different in England. Am I wrong?

SueDonim Sat 15-May-21 14:18:17

Totally agree with your OP, Varian. High tea was one of the delights I discovered when I moved to Scotland in the 70’s. For me, high tea has to involve bread and butter, even if you don’t eat it. grin It’s a fabulous meal when you have young children, you get them fed in time to put them to bed and you’ve also had your evening meal, so you can then spend the rest of evening doing what you want, instead of cooking.

As for suet - my mother would never have it in the house! The only place that served suet was at school dinners, in the 60’s, and I didn’t like it. My mum was really quite modern with her meals. I remember her coming home clutching a very long blue packet which contained Italian spaghetti! She’s 93yo now and still trying out new recipes. smile

GrannyLaine Sat 15-May-21 14:46:44

MawBe... is it you?? Are you back??

theworriedwell Sat 15-May-21 14:51:30

My granny always used to say, "We'll have high tea off a low table." I have no idea why as it never seemed to have any connection to high tea.

Grannynannywanny Sat 15-May-21 15:04:11

Several mentions of tongue brings me back to childhood in my paternal grandmother’s house. She always had ox tongue for her visitors. She pressed it between 2 plates for several days with the heavy iron on top for weight. I can remember gazing at the monstrosity peaking out from between the plates and hoping I wouldn’t be asked to eat any of it ?

Looking back now, if it had been called by another name other than tongue I probably wouldn’t have had a second thought about its origins.

FannyCornforth Sat 15-May-21 15:06:49


*MawBe*... is it you?? Are you back??

She is!
Isn't it marvellous!

25Avalon Sat 15-May-21 15:12:03

Many years ago I went to Scotland on holiday with my parents staying at b&b. Our first evening we found a lovely restaurant and had a super meal. On returning to the b&b about 8 pm we were served with a huge trolley of food. I can’t remember what now, I think it was sandwiches, cakes and scones all looking really lovely. Fortunately dad was a trencherman and able to eat more than his fair share which avoided embarrassment.

We had not realised they had high tea in Scotland. Any preconceived notions of mean Scots were instantly dismissed. They could not have been more generous and welcoming. Just wished we had known before smile

Jane43 Sat 15-May-21 15:13:23

We had afternoon tea in The Empress Hotel, Victoria, BC, Canada to celebrate an Aunt’s birthday, it was very special.

grannysyb Sat 15-May-21 15:13:50

Totally agree with all those who say that high tea is different from afternoon tea. When my children were small we went to SW Scotland for holidays, high tea was a really useful meal, you could feed them early, bath, bed and parents could relax with a glass or two! Delighted to see Maw back!

Deedaa Sat 15-May-21 15:18:42

I have distant memories of high tea with my grandmother and sometimes when we were on holiday. Usually ham and salad, with hard boiled eggs and salad cream. If my mother was involved there would probably be sticks of celery (which I loathed) Naturally there would be bread and butter that had to be eaten before we could have cake. If there was jam it would be in a pot and you had to take a spoonful of it and put it on the side of your plate rather than on the bread. Did other people do this?

GrannyLaine Sat 15-May-21 15:19:41



MawBe... is it you?? Are you back??

She is!
Isn't it marvellous!

Thanks Fanny
It's made my day.

And please, Varian, forgive my rudeness. Completely agree with your OP: Afternoon Tea and High Tea are very different animals. And I love both!

EllanVannin Sat 15-May-21 15:26:23

Afternoon tea has been tried and tested in many places on my travels and delicious they all were too, can't decide if it was the Raffles years ago or the Anassa in Cyprus. Though at the Anassa it was with friends and that would be the winner.

varian Sat 15-May-21 15:28:46

No need to apologise GrannyLaine

I wonder whether anyone who is on Twitter or Facebook could send Esther Walker a link to this thread.

I can't believe she's actually been paid for writing such rubbish. Has she ever met a "Boomer" Granny?

Daisend1 Sat 15-May-21 15:40:48

It was only after food rationing ended I experienced ' high tea'.Tinned salmon sandwiches followed by tinned fruit and tinned cream..

SueDonim Sat 15-May-21 18:18:11

Oh! Hello, Maw! smile

The main place I used to buy food from in Nigeria always had fresh tongues on display. My dd was endlessly fascinated by them, face pressed up against the glass display to peer at them. They came in all sorts of colours and had weird hairs on them. ?

Lucca Sat 15-May-21 18:24:26



MawBe... is it you?? Are you back??

She is!
Isn't it marvellous!