What is a high tea?
One of the special joys of owning a tea room (aside from drinking gallons of tea) is providing our “high teas” once a month. We get to break out the china and tablecloths, and the shop looks really special with all the fancy tables and tableware! Each person gets their own teapot and choice of tea, scones, finger sandwiches, cookies, chocolate dipped strawberries and other tasty tidbits.
That said, if you are a connoisseur of the tea world, you might be saying to yourself: you call that a high tea, but it sounds much more like the British afternoon, cream, or full tea. You would, in fact, be correct.
First, let me start by apologizing to those of you that are steeped in the tea world, and to our friends across the pond, and now, let me explain with some history:
Around the mid 1800’s, in Queen Victoria’s England, it became fashionable to have a bit of cake with your afternoon tea (or, if something savory was served, full tea). Lunch was usually light and dinner a long way off, and it helped get you through the day! Of course, this was really an event for the leisured and monied classes, since everyone else had to work in the afternoon. It was also known as low tea, presumably because the participants would sit in low, comfy chairs next to low coffee tables, to partake of their tea. Finally, in Devon and in Cornwall, it was also known as cream tea – these regions produced a lot of cream, and their afternoon teas frequently were accompanied by clotted cream and jam.
Closer to the turn of the century, as the industrial revolution was taking hold of Britain and urbanization was becoming more predominant, the advent of the true high tea was born. It was mostly a meal for builders and factory workers, and included a MUCH more substantial meal than the aforementioned afternoon teas, including roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, and a, really way more food than most people really want. It also was around 6 p.m. as they were getting home from work, but like the afternoon tea, was meant to tide you over until the actual evening meal.
To make matters even more complicated, the terms high tea, afternoon tea, cream teas, and even just tea (with no designation of high, afternoon, or otherwise), have certain meanings in various other countries.
Which brings us back to our High teas. In the United States, and especially the midwest, the notion of any sort of teas is still a relatively novel experience. Although some restaurants will occasionally have teas if there is a strong proponent, the idea of a dedicated tea room with high teas are few and far between! When we decided to start offering our monthly high teas, we very consciously steered away from the name of afternoon tea, since we worried that people might assume this was just a cup of iced tea mid afternoon (which is perfectly fine by us, just not what we had intended), and wanted to help people understand that this was a special event. Likewise, the term cream tea might just give the impression of a splash a cream in your tea. Again, perfectly all right by us, but not the connotation we wanted.
What to expect?
Welcome to a casual afternoon to sit down, enjoy a friend’s company and feed your soul (yes, stomach as well). Each party has their own table, shabby chic’ed up with an array of china plates, tea cups and flatware. Each setting is purposely mismatched and unique. Everyone gets their own pot of tea – no compromises needed! As for the food, this switches up monthly based on seasonal selection and the theme of the high tea. Popular favorites have been cucumber dill tea sandwiches, white chocolate raspberry scones and lemon cupcakes.
Hook me up!
Our goal is to host a high tea once a month. Specific dates are listed in our events page and also on our Facebook page. Seating is limited and reservations are required. Sometimes both days fill up a week out, so sign up early!