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Tea Terminology

by 'Irene Nielsen' - Certified Tea and Etiquette Consultant, Registered

Tea Terminology is really not a mystery but has become confusing.  Large Hospitality Coroporations appealing to the unknowing public and assuming their customers "will never know the difference" have used some terms incorrectly to attract customers, such as:

1.  "High Tea" as though it meant "highbrow" or a social tea.  Actually the High Tea menu is an evening supper meal at a high or dining room table with meat and potatoes enjoyed by the working class after work at 6 pm.

2,  Afternoon Tea is the social tea traditionally enjoyed at 4 pm between a light noon mean and the aristocratic evening meal at 8 or 9 pm.  Afternoon Tea is a meal with at least 3 full sandwich varieties per person, scones with toppings and a dessert along with endless tea and conversation.  Afternoon Tea is also referred to as "Tea" or "Low Tea" because it was enjoyed from the low tables in the parlor.
     The servant prepared the tea tray and deposited it by the hostess in the parlor.  The hostess prepared each cup according to the wishes of her guest, i.e., "Do you wish your tea strong or weak, sugar or milk - one lump or two", etc.  The teacup was delivered to the guest by the host of the house or manor.  The man's role was an esteemed position in the tea ceremony of the aristocrats. 
     Each lady of the house was know to be "at home" for her turn at Tea on a certain day of the week.  Other ladies would arrive at the hour for conversation, sharing and "sisterly support." It is not assumed the host of the house necessarily stayed with the ladies unless there were other men also present.

3.  Queen's Tea is all of the Afternoon Tea meal plus more desserts.

4.  Royale Tea is all of the Afternoon Tea meal and ceremony plus either champagne at the start OR Sherry at the conclusion after dessert.

5.  "Cream" Tea is a relaxing break for tea and a biscuit, scone or dessert.  One would NEVER put cream into good tea since cream fat dulls the flavor of good tea.  The British often need milk to correct a bitterness experienced by steeping the leaves in the bottom of the pot too long, thus making the liquor bitter and needing milk to correct it.

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