Afternoon Tea vs High Tea

Did you know that afternoon tea and high tea are not the same thing?

Often used interchangeably today, the terms describe different meals. The one that is most often used for tea parties, baby & bridal showers, and hosted with all the fun cakes is afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea is a lighter meal, often served to the upper class and was at one point referred to as ‘low tea’ because of the lower table (think coffee table height). This meal consists of tea sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and sweets. Afternoon tea is, of course, served in the afternoon (approximately 3:30-5pm) as a way to tide you over between lunch and dinner.

Popularized by Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford in the 1840s, she wanted the tea and cakes to fill her up until the very late supper time that was usually 7-8pm in the evening. Afternoon tea was also used as a social gathering, as it is today as well with the showers and parties. This is the one to dress up for with your dresses and fancy hats.

High tea is, you guessed it, served on a higher table and often a post-work meal for the working class. Because it’s a meal for people who often laboured away at work, the food served at high tea is often a lot heartier and heavier to provide the sustenance for those who’ve worked long hours  – think meat and potatoes. While still deliciously savoury, a high tea meal is not for those who are just looking to keep those hunger pains away until dinner.

Regardless of what you call it, the fancy tea parties in the afternoon are still a lot of fun! And as a lot of us are spending more time at home these days, it’s a fun away to bring your family together for a nice little sit-down meal and enjoy each others company.

There are a lot of recipes out there that could easily fill up your tiered cake stand and your delicate tea cups. Some fun recipes to round out your menu could include some Lemon & Cranberry Scones topped with Easy Chia Seed Jam, to be served next to your London Fog with Lavender Simple Syrup, of course.

Recipe: Dalgona Matcha (Vegan)

Dalgona coffee has been trending over the last few weeks as people are looking for something to do. If you’ve ever looked up dalgona, it’s actually a Korean candy that resembles honeycomb toffee (yum!) – which has no part in the dalgona coffee recipes that I’ve come across at all. The work from home and required social distancing is reason enough to look for something to at home as people become better (or worse?) cooks and baristas at at home.

As someone who doesn’t drink coffee, I definitely scoffed at this idea of making a whipped coffee. That is, until I saw photos of a matcha version pop up on Instagram. But most people were sharing photos of it without a recipe (for shame!). So I challenged myself to make it at home with what I had on hand. It took a few attempts, but I finally got something that tasted good, looked mostly right – and I did it all with ingredients I had available – win! Because of the ingredients I used, this is vegan, you’re perfectly welcome to sub in non-vegan/vegetarian ingredients…

Just don’t use coconut milk. I tried that (and it was gross).

Dalgona Matcha – Serves 2

1 tbs matcha powder¹
2 tbs agave syrup
4 tbs aquafaba²
Soy milk³
Handheld milk frother or whisk

¹I used DavidsTea’s Grand Cru Matcha.

²Aquafaba is this fascinating stuff that is the water from cooking legumes (like chickpeas!). I got the aquafaba from this recipe from opening up a can of chickpeas, but you can cook your own and use the water from that.

³I use Silk’s Unsweetened Organic Soy Milk as my non-dairy milk of choice.

In a bowl (or measuring cup), froth the aquafaba until it is approximately tripled in volume and white.
Slowly mix in agave syrup, continue to froth.
With handheld frother off, sift in matcha. Stir it in with a spoon before turning on the milk frother again and fully incorporate the matcha.
Fill 2 glasses approximately ¾ full with your soy milk.
Top with frothed matcha foam.
Take a photo (or two) for the ‘gram & enjoy!

If you make this Dalgona Matcha, I’d love to see your photos! Be sure to tag me on Instagram (@onemoresteep #onemoresteep) or comment below with a link to the photo!

Supporting Your Favourite Tea Shops While Distancing

Tea for some people can be quite the social event. For some it involves dressing up and heading to a local tea salon with a group of friends, enjoying a gorgeously assembled stand of savouries and sweets, devouring freshly baked scones with in-house made clotted cream and preserves. But right now, that’s not the best idea. A lot of areas have issued recommendations (or mandates) to socially distance – staying home to stay healthy and safe. Nobody wants to get sick right now and keeping away from other people is so important right now.

So how can you support your favourite tea shops? It’s especially hard when a lot of them have closed their physical retail stores in hopes of discouraging gatherings – which is so important right now!

Shop online. A lot of shops have an online presence that will enable you to order your favourite loose leaf or bagged tea online! For those locations that also serve food, they may have partnered with food delivery apps so you can have the option of getting food delivered to your home. Bonus, you get some pretty tea-rrific mail when you put in an online order!

Take-out & phone orders. For those without an online presence, they may be taking orders over the phone. A lot of shops have been offering the option of prepaying over the phone coupled with contact-less pick-up at the door or curbside/car delivery. One of my favourite local bakeries is doing this as well, and strictly operating on a cashless basis to limit exposure times to people. A favourite tea salon of mine is offering afternoon tea to go so when you order, you get all the goodies boxed up in a bag, along with a pouch of loose leaf tea with steeping instructions. So if you feel comfortable with food delivery/take-out orders at this time, that may be an option. Be sure to wash your hands before and after receiving your items, and make sure to practice good hand hygiene!

Give them some stars. Share photos of your at-home tea experience with their products. Word-of-mouth recommendations are gold to businesses, large and small. Consider leaving a review for them on their Facebook page, Google, or Yelp profiles.

Purchase a gift card. Eventually social distancing will be a thing of a past (but hopefully everyone keeps up the hand washing!). Purchasing a gift card now is a great way to show some support to your favourite tea shop – plus it gives you the excuse to go for a little shopping trip when the stores are reopened to pick up some more tea, or if it’s a gift certificate for afternoon tea, it’s the perfect reason to invite a friend you haven’t seen since before the pandemic was declared to catch up.

Take advantage of coupon codes (and share them!). A lot of shops are offering discount codes and free shipping codes right now. It’s a great way to show some support while saving some money. Maybe you could even discover some new favourites! Don’t be afraid to try a new-to-you product because you’ve got a lot of time right now to be making a cup of tea at home.

And now for a gentle reminder from me. Stay home if you can, stay safe & healthy. Be kind to one another. Remember that while March seemed to last for a year, this is the temporary normal for now. Practice good hand hygiene, practice social distancing, practice kindness.

And have a nice cup of tea (at home) – there will be time for afternoon tea with your friends later.