Welcome to Zee Tea

Afternoon Tea or High Tea?

Afternoon tea, sometimes historically referred to as ‘low’ tea, was characterised by the height of the table that the tea meal was taken from.  Similarly, ‘high’ tea was known for the meal that was taken either standing up or sitting on tall stools.


History of Afternoon Tea

The practice of serving tea accompanied by delicate sandwiches and small cakes is thought to have originated in England early in the 19th century. 


High teaTraditionally, the English took two meals a day – breakfast, which consisted of ale, bread and beef and dinner, which was a rather big and heavy meal at the end of the day.  Anna Maria, the Duchess of Bedford (1788 – 1861) started inviting friends over during the summer months for an additional afternoon meal at 5 o’clock.  Sandwiches, sweets and an assortment of cakes were accompanied by, of course, tea.  This practice was sometimes referred to as ‘Low Tea’ and soon became all the rage and extended to all seasons.  A strict ritual of tea service was established.  The lady of the day would be surrounded by her invited guests and fine porcelain from China whilst food and tea was passed around.  Conversation and gossip would flow – a practice not dissimilar to that which we practice today!


History of High Tea

Historically, the name ‘high tea’ shares none of the connotations of the modern day interpretation.  Beginning in the mid 18th century, high tea (also known as ‘meat tea’) was taken by the working class of Britain at around 6pm.  The meal consisted of meat, mashed potatoes, cooked eggs and the like.  It was, of course, served with a pot of tea.   


Today, the term ‘high tea’ refers to a social gathering, often in elegant surrounds, with tea being accompanied by tempting and tasty treats.



Have a look at our amazing range of organic teas. Here’s a few suggestions of complementary matchings for an afternoon tea or high tea:



Serve with …


Scones with jam and cream

Ceylon OP

Great all rounder.  Will match with sweet & savoury dishes

Earl Grey

Sweet dishes, particularly those with citrusy flavours

Chocolate Tea

Rich dishes such as mud cakes and sticky date

Hidden Valley

Sweet dishes, particularly those with vanilla flavours


Sweet and savoury pastries


Savoury dishes

Longjing green

Fruit dishes

China White

Versatile.  Particularly good with fruity flavours

Peppermint Lux

Great to serve after food.  Digestive and relaxation properties

high tea