As a viewer so rightly pointed out recently, a lot of tea drinking goes on in the British shows we air. If you're as curious as our viewer was as to the differences between high tea, afternoon tea and all the other tea times, here's the scoop:
Elevenses is what we call the drinking of a cup of tea as a pick-me-up in the late morning - about 11am. It's usually - or, more likely, always - accompanied by a biscuit - the sweet kind, such as a McVities or Chocolate Digestive, or a Ginger Nut, or a Bourbon, or a Rich Tea. As the biscuits tend to be dry and hard, they are often times "dunked" in the tea, to make them soften slightly. (Saves on sugar!)
Afternoon Tea usually takes place between 4pm and 6pm and consists of something a little more substantial than a biscuit. It's still quite delicate in appearance though. Along with a pot of loose leaf tea (English Breakfast, or Earl Grey for instance), which is served with milk and sugar, there are "tea sandwiches". The small, triangular, lightly buttered, crust-less, pieces of white bread are lightly filled with such things as cucumber slices, cress, egg, thin slices of ham, smoked salmon or cream cheese. Cakes and pastries are also served at this time of day. A Victoria sponge cake, for instance, which is a layered cake with jam and vanilla cream, or a nice piece of Battenberg, or Bakewell tart, a slice of fruit cake (often served with cheddar cheese), or jam, or lemon curd tarts. Scones with clotted cream and jam can also be served. If so, it's known as a "cream tea". A high quality "Afternoon Tea" at Harrods can set you back anywhere from $20-$50! For a less formal Afternoon Tea, a pastry such as a custard tart or piece of cake will suffice as an accompaniment to a cup of tea.
High Tea is typically eaten between 5pm and 7pm and is usually a hot meal such as sausage and chips, or beans on toast, for instance, accompanied by a nice cup of tea and lashings of bread and butter. A nice piece of cake generally follows.
Traditionally working class people in England - usually in the northern counties or Scotland, refer to what others call lunch-time as "dinner". It's sometimes their largest meal of the day and is eaten around 1pm. They then have their "tea" at about 6pm. The upper classes, on the other hand, call the midday meal "lunch" (or "luncheon") and the evening meal "dinner", which is usually served after 7pm. Meals that are consumed later in the evening are called "supper". All three, no matter how late the hour, are often taken with a nice cup of tea.
Nuncehon/Nuntion dates back to the Middle Ages and was the meal eaten between dinner (as in the evening meal) and supper.
If there's something you've noticed about one of our programs, that you'd like me to explain or expand on, feel free to drop me a line. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.