Tea Time questions.

RickAns

Well-Known Member
I have some questions on tea time and eating schedules. Have heard of high tea, low tea and elevenses in various shows and not thought much about it until the other day when I tried to learn more about them. Found a few web pages with some bits of semi helpful info that I have cobbled together. I realize things are different current day than when these traditions started. Here is what I have so far.

Elevenses = 11 am late morning work break.
Afternoon tea = around 3-4 pm also called low tea, kinda posh with finger foods and nibbles.
High tea = about 5- 7 pm working class evening meal or supper with meat pies.
Dinner = 7 - 8 pm posh folks meal.

There was no mention of breakfast or lunch in either article. Would elevenses be considered as lunch or just before? Why separate the two - have a tea break then turn around and have another break for lunch?

I can be completely wrong on this and if so I apologize. My knowledge is shaped from TV shows (scary, I know). Not trying to stir anything up between posh and working class just don't know how else to describe the two examples. In this context when I think of posh I think of Downton Abbey type folks who are wealthy enough to eat whatever they like and whenever they would want. Working class folks in factories, working the fields, servants, those earning their pay through labor. Who may not always be able to buy as much food as they would like or must eat according to their scheduled work breaks.

Afternoon tea was described as being invented by a posh lady (who I cannot remember her name) when she did not want to wait so long between meals until dinner time. Since no 'lunch' was mentioned I am left thinking why would they wait from breakfast or their first meal of the day until 7-8 pm dinner time to eat? If they had lunch then I can understand a midday snack. If no lunch at all then not eating at all till 7 pm or finger food only until then does not make sense to me. She was posh why was she not eating whenever she liked?

It has been years since I watched Downton Abbey and I cannot remember if the servants downstairs ate before or after the posh family upstairs. If the servants ate before then that would explain why high tea supper is earlier than dinner for the upstairs folk. I would think the posh would not want to wait until after their servants had eaten for themselves to eat. Wouldn't the servants eating sooner mean interrupting their own meal to prepare the upstairs meal? Just trying to understand how things worked.
 
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JBCat

Well-Known Member
I'm with Peri on that one. Not sure what exactly went on in the days of people having servants!

At work I always had elevenses though, to tide people over till lunch, with a hot drink and a couple of biscuits (cookies). We also had the same in the middle of the afternoon, but it was just called a tea break.

I think in this day and age high tea is more of a thing one would have if eating out, and any appetite for it would depend on having had a very small lunch!
 

RickAns

Well-Known Member
Thanks for helping clarify. When would you you all have lunch then, JBCat - 12pm, 1pm? Just trying to build a time line in my head of day to day goings on back then and now. Roughly how long would a tea break be? Seems like 'tenses' would break up the morning more evening if starting work about 8 - 9 am or even earlier back in the day.
 

Pearl

Super Moderator
Staff member
In this working class house breakfast is at 7-8. We have our main meal ( husband used to work shifts and it was easier ) at dinner time 1ish. Tea is at 5- 6 ish, if we have tea later it's called supper 7-8ish. Elevenses are usually a cuppa and snack if dinner is going to be late. That's generally the routeen here. We only have high tea if we're dinning at Harrods or half way up a mountain. ( we never dine at Harrods but we have eaten up mountains.)
 

Pearl

Super Moderator
Staff member
Work for me, starting work at 6am breakfast half an hour at 8, dinner at 12 for an hour and finish work at 2 but if doing over time have 15 minutes at 2 then back to work until finish, if we worked til 6 we have 15 minutes at 4. I worked until 2 went home until 5. 30 then off to my second job 6 til 9.
You're entitled to 2 15 minute breaks and an hour dinner time in a normal 8 hour day. Well it used to be not sure what it is now.
 

RickAns

Well-Known Member
This has been very helpful. I'm glad I asked. Thank you all.

It seems like the servants of Downton Abbey times had really long work days. They were up and working before the upstairs folks got out of bed. I remember a young lady shoveling spent coals from a fireplace being told to hurry before the family came downstairs. Also they were working until the family upstairs went to bed at however late that would be. Leaving it a very long day with uncertain breaks or mealtimes.
 

Pearl

Super Moderator
Staff member
.............. and you run the House as well, Pearl your'e an absolute star :)
I wonder how I did it some times, 3 teenagers, 2 jobs and a house. Him in doors tried to help but it wasn't worth the hassle, he was off one week so volunteered to do the shopping! I gave him a list, written with the shop layout in mind, all he had to do was walk clockwise, he couldn't find the washing up liquid so bought beer instead and because I didn't specify a brand of butter he just bought one of each! I gave up in the end. I blame the hormons, anything that has to shave every day obviously can't cope with shopping.
 

JBCat

Well-Known Member
Yes, when I was working it would be
7 am - breakfast (later 7.30 when I had a job nearer home)
10 am morning tea break (or a bit later if busy)
1pm - midday meal (sandwiches, etc) or could be taken at 12 if I'd wanted.
3pm - afternoon tea break
6.30/7 pm - evening meal (more substantial cooked meal)
10pm - cup of tea and biscuits before bedtime.

The midday meal I grew up calling dinner, but when I got married my husband always called it lunch so I went along with him. (I've even heard one person refer to it as "tea" but that seems to me most unusual, don't think a lot of people would call it that!)
The evening meal is what I would call "tea". Now this is maybe because, when growing up, the midday meal was the main one - hence the word "dinner" for it - and the evening meal was, I suppose, a sort of "high tea". A lot of people call the evening meal supper, too, although for me personally, supper would be something taken not long before bedtime, to stave off hunger before turning in.
"Dinner" referring to the evening meal would, to me, imply a rather grander affair than the usual evening meal. (Such as a dinner party, or eating out).

I think a lot of these terms can depend on what part of the country one lives in and what one was used to when growing up.
 

Pearl

Super Moderator
Staff member
We call the being meal tea, my parent's were from the North East and they always called it tea, even if it was the main meal. It's deffinalty a regional thing.
 

captain clutterbuck

Well-Known Member
We call the evening meal Tea also, cooked or otherwise, its a North East thing along with the general "Bait" and "Scran" which can cover all meals also "getting the nosebag on " is a colloquial phrase for eating.
 

RickAns

Well-Known Member
Nice, I had not thought about the midday meal being larger than the evening meal. I grew up with the larger meal in the evening.

I guess you get used to it or use a lower caffeine tea in the late evenings to not keep you awake? JBCat you mentioned a 10pm tea before bedtime. I do like the idea of a hot tea in the evening. Does one use the same type of tea all day, or do you mix up strong and weaker flavors for variety? Like a strong full body tea one time of the day and a lighter, flavorful herbal at another?
 

JBCat

Well-Known Member
@Rick - I think 12 different people would give 12 different answers - really dependent on personal taste!
For me, it's coffee at breakfast to get me into the land of the living then Redbush tea the rest of the day.
 

Pearl

Super Moderator
Staff member
One cup of Edinburgh blended tea for breakfast then water all the way..... Yes I'm that boring but it's cut down on the migraines.
 

barmpot

Well-Known Member
Breakfast first thing
Elevenses mid morning to keep one going
Luncheon about 12.30
Afternoon tea about 4
Dinner about 7
Nightcap about 11

when I lived in a Castle (can prove this as I have arriving license with it as my address somewhere)


Until recently it was

tea and tablets when I GOT UP
coffee and tea cake mid morning in a tea shop
coffee and snack tea shop mid afternoon
whatever could find in freezer about six
drink and tablets before bed


Now

breakfast including tablets before leave
coffee when arrive at fiancé's house
meal there
later meal there
home for final drink and tablets

No longer use terms like luncheon or diner - just food ...
 

RickAns

Well-Known Member
Very cool on living in a castle, barmpot! Do you have a picture of it you can share? I love castles like I love trains. Not sure what it is about them.

I like the idea of elevenses and afternoon tea. Trying to incorporate that into my daily schedule.
 

dick

Well-Known Member
My pension group have what we call a fish supper on Fridays. We gather in the community room at 6-00 pm Have our fish and some games of bingo and I am back in my flat around 9- 30. Friendly evening and no riotous behaviour !:fp:
 
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