Hearts Through History Romance Writers

Afternoon Tea

by | February 3, 2012 | 5 comments

Afternoon tea is a tradition we associate with Great Britain. Traditionally, dinner was served at 8:30 or 9:00 pm – a long time after the morning meal which was served between 7:00 and 9:00 am.  To fill the gap, and stop the grumblings of many tummies, tea was served.

High tea, an early evening meal, was served between 5:00 and 7:00. It included hot dishes followed by cakes and bread, butter and jam. Sometimes cold meats would also be served. For the most part, high tea was served at the dining table.

Afternoon tea, served in the late afternoon, was called low tea because it was usually served in the sitting room, salon, or library on low (coffee) tables. There are three types of Low Tea:

Cream Tea – Tea, scones, jam and cream

Light Tea – Tea, scones and sweets

Full Tea – Tea, savories, scones, sweets and dessert

The traditional time for tea in England was 4:00 or 5:00. Today tea is served in most tea rooms from 3:00 to 5:00. The menu has also changed to include three courses served in a specific order:

Savories – Tiny sandwiches or appetizers 

Scones – Served with jam and Devonshire or clotted cream

Pastries – Cakes, cookies, shortbread and sweets

On my first business trip overseas I spent the weekend in London. I had several places I want to see or experience, including the Tower of London, Warwick Castle, Hampton Court, and go to a tea room. A friend at the office surprised me and took me to tea at The Savoy Hotel. That’s where I discovered clotted cream. How delicious to bite into the warm scone slathered with cream.  

I found the perfect place in my story, Knight of Runes, to include The Savoy Hotel and afternoon tea. 


  1. Ruth A. Casie

    Hi Emma –

    My favorite tea is Earl Grey. I love the hint of lemon. I usually make a pot and bring it into my office where I write. Your scones and jam sound delicious. I wouldn’t be able to wait until 4 either!

    Thanks for stopping by ..

  2. Emma

    Oh, geez. Now I’m hungry.

    We have ‘Fair’ scones, the scones they serve at the Puyallup Fair. My problem is, if I make ’em, I eat ’em and I don’t wait for 4 PM. Well, right now, they are calling my name. So is the jar of strawberry jam. And the Irish Breakfast Tea up in the cupboard!

  3. Terry Irene Blain

    Had a great tea at the Empress Hotel in Vancouver, BC. And my daughter-in-law always takes me to tea when we visit in San Jose. For a great selection of tea, try Murchies in Canada (I love the black/green blends)

  4. McKenna Darby

    I love this, Ruth. So funny that afternoon tea was “low tea,” when we Americans insist on calling it high tea (as if that makes it more impressive.)

    A lovely hotel in my town serves a fancy tea in the afternoons, but it’s always overrun with little girls’ birthday parties so I don’t go. Not what I think of as a “relaxing” afternoon treat, so I occasionally treat myself to Earl Gray and scones in my home library. Clotted cream is a bit beyond my culinary capabilities. 🙂

    • Ruth A. Casie

      I truly love tea. I planned a full tea with small sandwiches, scones and imported clotted cream (I live in New Jersey)for our oldest daughter’s engagement party. I think the guests may have preferred deli sandwiches!

      Thanks for leaving a comment. Enjoy the Earl Grey!



Share This