Sip & Savour: Unravelling the Mysteries of High Tea vs. Afternoon Tea

Tea culture is a timeless expression of sophistication and grace, where every sip is a moment of serenity and every aroma a journey to a world of refinement.

Tea, with its timeless elegance and calming properties, has been cherished across cultures for centuries. It is not just a beverage but a way of life—a respite from the chaos of everyday life. As William Gladstone, the former British Prime Minister, famously said, "If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; if you are depressed, it will cheer you; if you are excited, it will calm you."

Tea advocates around the world have recognized and celebrated the cultural significance of tea rituals. These rituals often serve as an opportunity for people to connect, unwind, and appreciate the finer aspects of life. Among the various tea rituals, two quintessentially British traditions stand out: Afternoon Tea and High Tea.

Afternoon Tea, also known as "low tea," originated in the 1800s as a solution to the "sinking feeling" experienced by the Duchess of Bedford during the late afternoon. This refined tradition was developed to bridge the gap between lunch and dinner. Afternoon tea is served around 4 PM and typically consists of a three-course repast served on a tiered stand. The menu features delicate tea sandwiches, warm scones served with clotted cream and jam, and an assortment of sweets, accompanied by a pot of hot tea. The table is adorned with crisp linen and elegant china, adding to the overall ambience of sophistication. Earl Grey, Darjeeling, and English Breakfast are popular tea blends served during afternoon tea. Observing proper social etiquette, including using the correct utensils and pouring tea with precision, is expected during this refined gathering.

On the other hand, High Tea, also referred to as 'meat tea,' emerged during the Industrial Revolution in Britain. It was favoured by the working class as an evening supper after long hours of labour. High Tea was a heartier meal compared to Afternoon Tea, featuring substantial dishes such as meat, pickled fish, cheese, and vegetables, followed by homemade cake or pie. It was typically served between 5 PM and 7 PM at a high table with high back chairs, within the comfort of one's home. The tea of choice for High Tea was usually a robust black blend, such as Assam, Darjeeling, or Ceylon, often served with milk and sugar on the side.

In modern times, both Afternoon Tea and High Tea have undergone adaptations to cater to diverse tastes and lifestyles. Vegan afternoon teas, themed menus with unusual flavour combinations, and champagne afternoons for special occasions have become popular. Additionally, modern high tea experiences now feature lighter options like salads and quiches, providing a wider choice for tea enthusiasts.

If you're looking to indulge in the timeless tradition of Afternoon Tea, here are some recommendations for the best tea experiences in town:

Cafe Claire at Oriental Residence Bangkok

Enjoy the Summer Afternoon Tea at Cafe Claire and savour a delightful selection of Thai tropical sweets and savory treats, perfectly capturing the essence of the season.

Cafe Claire, 110 Witthayu Rd 
Open Monday-Sunday, 6 AM - 10 PM 
For more information, visit here.


The Lobby at Peninsula Bangkok

Experience a blend of tradition and innovation at The Lobby, accompanied by live music. Delight in an exquisite array of finely brewed teas, complemented by a variety of delicate finger sandwiches.

The Lobby, 333 Charoen Nakhon Rd 
Open Monday-Sunday, Afternoon Tea 2 PM- 6 PM 
For more information, visit here.

Lobby Salons at Sukhothai

Immerse yourself in the Afternoon Tea experience at Lobby Salons, located in Sukhothai's new lobby. Indulge in a tempting variety of fresh, seasonal exotic fruits, exquisite cakes, pastries, and delightful tea sandwiches.

Lobby Salons, 13/3 Sathon Tai Rd 
Open Monday-Sunday, 10 AM - 9PM
For more information, visit here.


Tea is more than just a beverage; it is a catalyst for meaningful connections.Tea's rich history is intertwined with social and cultural contexts. Beyond social divisions, it unifies people, fosters hospitality, and reflects human experiences serving as a source of unity and cultural expression. From morning black tea in Britain to refreshing iced tea in the US and masala chai in India, tea becomes a part of daily life's rhythm. As tea lovers, let us embrace the rituals of Afternoon Tea and High Tea, allowing them to serve as reminders of the beauty and grace that tea brings into our lives.