Afternoon tea, cream tea, high tea… confused as to which type of tea service is right for you? Don’t worry, Elden Street Tea Shop has you covered!
Afternoon tea is a social event that originated in the 1840s when a duchess grew hungry between lunch and dinner. The duchess invited her friends for tea and a light snack to carry them through the afternoon. As this was not a formal meal, the women would sit in the parlor in low slung armchairs, hence earning afternoon tea it’s other common name, “Low Tea”.
Afternoon Tea is typically served around 4pm and features finger foods such as small sandwiches, scones, macaroons, and other treats. This social gathering is commonly mistakenly referred to as “High Tea” and was traditionally reserved for the upper class.
Originating in Devon and Cornwall, England, Cream Tea is a paired down version of Afternoon Tea and features the traditional last course of Afternoon Tea. At a Cream Tea the tea is served with scones, clotted cream, and jam.
High Tea first began when the lower class could not take lunch breaks during work. Instead they would come home and serve tea and a hearty meal of cold cuts, cheese and meat pies for their family. This service would characteristically be enjoyed at dinner table, hence the name “High Tea”.
High Tea is more relaxed and informal than Afternoon Tea and is traditionally enjoyed with one’s family rather than in a social setting. To this day, many in England still refer to their dinner as “Tea”.
“White like the clouds, green like a dream, pure like snow, and as aromatic as an orchid.
This is how ancient Chinese poets described white tea during the Imperial Dynasty. Throughout this time period tea drinking was its own culture; a significant part of this culture was Chinese citizens paying a yearly tribute to the emperor known as the imperial tea.
White tea gets its name from the little white hairs still on the young tea leaves that are harvested before they have fully opened. Theses young leaves are then dried quickly to keep oxidation at a minimum, which results in delicate, fresh, tea. White tea tends to be more expensive than other teas and has a delicate, floral or fruity, aroma. It is also lower in caffeine than green and black teas.
The most popular varieties of white tea are:
Check out our tea catalog to learn more about the white teas we carry or stop by the shop to drink the tea of the ancient Chinese emperors!
Rachel Eisenfeld is the owner of Elden Street Tea Shop. She is a fan of Pu'er (poo-air) teas, refreshing and subtle white teas, and any tea mixed with bourbon. Rachel has been to many tea houses on the East Coast, Ireland, and San Franscico. She enjoys learning about the chemical process of making tea and international tea culture. During good times and bad, tea warms the soul.