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What is High Tea?

Nothing makes a gal feel quite as fancy as getting dressed up in their cutest dress to attend a high tea event.

But did you know that high tea is actually a tradition that began with the working-class who undertook labour intensive jobs such as farmers and miners.

The men would return home utterly famished after a hard day’s work and be served a hot meal with tea between the hours of 6pm and 7pm. The term “high” was used as the meal would be served at a high table with high-back dining chairs. It had nothing at all to do with the social class of the person having the high tea! In fact in many working class areas of Britain they still refer to what we in Australia call “dinner” as “tea”.

High Tea in the 21st Century

What we refer to as “high tea” in the 21st century actually began as “afternoon tea” in the 19th century. It is a quintessentially British tradition established by the Seventh Duchess of Bedford, Anna Maria Russell (lifelong bestie of Queen Victoria) who would request a “snack” of finger sandwiches, scones, cake and tea to be served in her room (what a vibe!). What began as a private indulgence soon became a social affair when she invited friends and family to join her. This tradition of a small afternoon meal between lunch and dinner soon took off, though only amongst aristocratic circles in Britain as unfortunately the working class could not afford such luxury at the time.

These days high tea is a mesh of the two traditions and is enjoyed the world over. It is now generally served at a table with high-back chairs as we indulge in luxurious cakes and sandwiches whilst sipping tea from fine bone china and enjoying conversation with friends and family. Baby showers, bridal showers, kitchen teas and special occasions are typically celebrated with a high tea.

Need a hand hosting your high tea?

We’re here to help! We have everything you need to make Duchess Russell proud. From teacups to cake stands, teapots to crystal cut glassware, catering and everything in between. We also offer the best high tea picnics in Sydney to indulge your guests with the most exquisite set up this side of the Ritz.

what is high tea sydney