Need a fresh idea for a bridal shower? Want something more personal, and possibly held at home while still being elegant and special? Then you might consider a royal bridal shower idea, High Tea.
Although what Americans call “high tea” is actually a misnomer as far as the Brits are concerned (high tea in Great Britain is actually on the heavier side, includes lots of meats, and is more like dinner), we’ll continue to use that term for our purposes, since it’s the one with which people are familiar.
What Americans think of as “high tea” is elegantly presented by many fine hotels as a presentation of scones with Devonshire or clotted cream, tiny finger sandwiches, and small pastries served on fine china, accompanied by hot tea, of course. Here, we also might have an assorted selection of savory tarts as well, depending on the preference of those selecting the menu.
High tea is usually served between 3:00 and 5:00pm, originally intended as something to tide you over between breakfast and a late and heavy dinner. Daily meals weren’t always breakfast, lunch and dinner. In fact, in the 16th Century, before tea had made its way into Great Britain, there were two main daily meals for the English: breakfast, and dinner. Because it was filling, breakfast often consisted of something heavy to stick with you through the day: bread, beef and believe it or not, ale. It wasn’t until the mid-18th Century that the middle class and the well-to-do had gradually rescheduled their dinners from what we think of as lunchtime to the end of their day. No small matter, the evening meal was lengthy, and quite substantial.
Tea gained in popularity as refreshment throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. Sealing tea’s popularity with royal endorsement, Queen Anne opted for tea over ale which quickly ensured her habit would become fashionable for the masses. Given the exhaustion brought on by working a back-breaking day in the new factories of the Industrial Age, commoners soon turned to tea to revive their energy at the end of the day. But unlike tea with sweets, they had tea with heavier fare, eaten at the dinner table. As the dinner table was high, as opposed to a sitting room table which was low, the term “high tea” evolved to describe the meal and the location where it was enjoyed. That’s where we get the term used today.
The woman who is most often credited with establishing high tea as a social event was a member of Queen Victoria’s court – in fact, she was a lady-in-waiting. It was Anna Maria Stanhope, Duchess of Bedford, who had trouble managing her hunger between breakfast and dinner. She eventually had her servants bring her some tea and bread items in late afternoon, and this evolved into a late afternoon light meal with bread and butter sandwiches, little cakes and sweets, and naturally, hot tea. The Duchess invited her friends to join her , and afternoon tea became a daily event where friends and family could share some time relaxing and refueling, so to speak, before late dinner. As you might expect, afternoon tea soon became a popular social trend.
Today, there a few ways in which you might arrange a high tea themed shower. Of course, there’s always the option to seek out an upscale hotel, and book it for tea. Then, there are professional specialists who bring high tea to you at the place of your choice. These gracious service providers have your tea and treats come complete with fine linens and fine china, for an authentic experience. For instance, The Royal Teacup is a service in the Long Island area that creates a lush and memorable tea experience. Google “high tea” in your geographic area, and there will probably be a similar service provided near you. If you’re feeling very creative, you might also coordinate a high tea yourself in your home, or a friend’s.
No matter where it’s done, high tea is a memorable and pleasant experience to share with friends, especially for an occasion as meaningful as a bridal shower.