High Tea at Five…

High Tea at a ‘High’ Table…

Contrary to what most people in the states believe, High Tea is actually more like supper, served around 5-ish.

It was called ‘High’ Tea because it was served at a high table vs. a low table – which was common for Afternoon Tea.

If you’re reading this blog, you probably already know what Afternoon Tea is – it’s almost the opposite of High tea. Afternoon Tea is small sandwiches, cakes, scones, and pastries served in the afternoon. Usually on pretty china, and with a pot of tea – sometimes with Champagne.

Meat, Fish, Eggs…

High Tea, traditionally, was a much less formal affair. Meat pies, fish, and hearty foods were served, along with a few cakes and sweets. Egg dishes and casseroles were often included on the menu, along with tea.

Not to be sexist, but I think most people would agree that Afternoon Tea feels more feminine, while High Tea is more masculine.

brandied cherries, stuffed mushrooms, high tea menu
As with Afternoon Tea, having a number of different dishes, sets High Tea apart from everyday dinner.

Outside of folks mistaking High Tea for Afternoon Tea, you don’t hear about it much today. I’m not sure it’s even mentioned all that frequently in Britain, the birthplace of the ‘tea’ movements.
I could be wrong.

But how is it different from from just normal…dinner?

I think it’s all in the pacing of the service.
I love the idea of this savory tea, and I decided to put one together for my husband and myself.

Preparing the stuffed mushrooms

Just like Afternoon Tea, there’s quite a bit of work involved, because unlike a regular dinner , you’re including things like small bites – a bit like Tapas.

Even though I was just preparing for my husband and I, I felt like I was cooking for a dinner party. It took longer than I expected – and that was even with the meat dish bought ready to go from Whole Foods.

Stuffed mushrooms on nasturtium leaves.
If you have a garden, use your ready made garnishes. These are Nasturtium leaves.

I love that my Nasturtium leaves and flowers are so bountiful right now. The leaves make perfect ‘pads’ for appetizers.

Which brings me to something I highly recommend when throwing any kind of party…don’t do it all yourself. Buy some of it.

It’s always more work than you think…

With Afternoon Tea, the work is more apparent, because you have a selection of pastries; it’s very time consuming to make all of them yourself. It’s not like you make one batch of cookies – even if they are French Macarons – and then you’re done.
No, the selection is part of what makes Afternoon tea, Afternoon Tea.

Carne Asada for High Tea

The Menu…

For our Tea, I included Crab Stuffed Mushrooms, Brandied Cherries, Carne Asada, Crispy Baked Herbed Potatoes, Roasted Carrots, Biscuits and honey, Orange Salad, and for dessert, Mocha Mousse with a sparkling Lillet Tea cocktail.

Had there been others dining with us, I would have included another small dish, but it was already too much food.

Orange, radish and arugula salad
Greens with pops of color

The stuffed mushrooms, cocktails and dessert are what made it feel out of the ordinary. I mean, sure, we have dessert at home – but unless we have people over for dinner, it’s usually from an ice cream carton and scoop.

Sparkling Lillet Tea Cocktail with Chocolate Mousse

I normally don’t serve an appetizer with dinner, but the stuffed mushrooms made it more of an event, and we sipped leisurely before moving onto the main courses.

As we started to dine, the skies opened up and we were deluged with rain coming down in sheets. With the classical music station on in the background, it was the perfect atmosphere for a hearty tea supper – and for once I wasn’t cursing our rained out summer.

The meal was lovely.

Which do you prefer?

So High Tea or Afternoon Tea – what’s your favorite?

For myself, I like both. Afternoon Tea feels a little more special, but I have to admit that I’m a savory food lover, and if High Tea were served in a cozy, luxury hotel dining room, I could easily become a convert.

The Recipes used for this High Tea:
Crab Stuffed Mushrooms
Crispy Herbed Potatoes
Easy Chocolate Mousse