Though used interchangeably, afternoon tea and high tea are two similar but distinct features of traditional English tea culture. It has been said that afternoon tea was created in the 1840s when Anna, Duchess of Bedford wanted a snack to tide her over between the long wait of morning and evening mealtimes. Others say that Afternoon Tea was brought to England in 1662 by Catherine de Braganza of Portugal when she married Charles II. Afternoon tea is served at 4 pm, featuring English Afternoon Tea, light bread and small cakes such as Victoria Sponge or Battenburg, and cucumber-filled finger sandwiches.
High tea was created as a response to afternoon tea, but the working class could not afford to stop working at 4 pm to indulge in afternoon tea. So, after work was done for the day, workers would be treated to a tea time that was heartier than its afternoon tea counterpart. It featured heavier faire, such as stews and pies. And a strong, hot tea that would keep workers energized to see them through to bedtime.
No matter which tea time you prefer, there is something special about taking a midday break and enjoying a lovely cup of tea.