Tea time around the world!

Hello my dear friends! I'm so glad you popped by today for a visit. If this is your first time visiting Natasha in Oz {dot} com I hope you enjoy your visit. Why not grab a cup of tea and join me for a trip around the world!

Every afternoon, at about 4pm, my husband rings me and asks me "What's for Tea?" When he first asked me this years ago I had no idea what he was on about...was he asking me what kind of tea I was drinking? Was he asking me what flavour of biscuit I was eating with my tea? Then I discovered that the word "Tea" can have many meanings depending where you are in the world. The word "Tea" refers to a beverage made with tea leaves but it can also refer to any of several different meals or mealtimes, depending on a country's customs and its history of drinking tea.

Tea Time around the world via Natasha in Oz

In those countries where the term's use is common, the influences are generally those of the former British Empire. For example, here in Australia many people call their early evening meal their "tea" while others will call it "dinner". My husband's family obviously called their main meal "tea" whereas my family calls the evening meal "dinner." I learnt that the use of the word tea to mean the evening meal reflects the custom of Northern England, Wales and Scotland where this type of meal is often called "high tea." In Hong Kong, "tea" seems to refer to a light meal that is served in the middle of the afternoon from about 2pm to 6pm. This is a practice that Hong Kong people adopted from the British concept of Afternoon Tea during the late period of British colonial rule. The food taken consists of some light meals or snacks such as sandwiches, toast, or more substantial fares served together with milk tea, coffee, Horlicks, Ovaltine, yuenyeung, lemon tea for Western style food, and Chinese tea for Chinese style food.

Tea Time around the world via Natasha in Oz
Tea at the Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore

In France, the traditional afternoon snack for French children when they return home after a long day studying at school is known as "Le Goûter" (pronounced “luh goo tay”) and happens around 4 PM, when children are getting out of school and workers are heading into the last 1-2 hours of work. At this time, children will rush home to get a delicious treat, but not enough to spoil their appetite for dinner. Generally this snack could be a baguette or roll with butter and jam or chocolate shavings or a spread like Nutella, or chocolate cookies, accompanied by hot chocolate.

French workers, will take to cafes and tea houses to grab their own le goûter. Grown-ups however, have more sophisticated treats like chocolate croissants, macaroons, or fruit tartes, usually accompanied with coffee or tea.

Macarons from Le Goûter Bernardaud 

The term "high tea" is also used in the United States to refer to afternoon tea or the "tea party," a very formal, ritualised gathering in which tea, thin sandwiches and little cakes are served on the best china. This form of tea is increasingly served in high-end American hotels, often during the Christmas holidays. We were lucky enough to go to a magnificent High Tea at the Ritz in San Francisco just before Christmas in 2005. It was a Teddy Bear's Tea and the kids got all dressed up and we had a wonderful afternoon.

Tea Time around the world via Natasha in Oz

The kids each received teddies and we were entertained by a Christmas "elf" called Binky who sang a variety of songs, both Christmas and pop, and he told a story.

There was also a very large teddy bear walking around to hug boys and girls.

So what then is the difference between tea, afternoon tea, high tea and low tea? Well, Catherine of Braganza, the queen-consort of Charles II of England, brought the trend of tea drinking to the UK from Portugal. It was called “a China drink” at that time (1660s) as the tea was imported from China. While living in Woburn Abbey, Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford, is credited as the first person to have transformed afternoon tea in England into a late-afternoon meal rather than a simple refreshment. It all began back in the mid 1800s, when she started having a tray of tea with bread and butter served to her in the mid-afternoon. This is because lunch was served at noon but dinner was not eaten until 8 or even 9 o'clock at night. The Duchess found herself hungry during those long afternoon hours. Anyway, soon she began to invite other high-society ladies to join her and very quickly having Afternoon Tea became the 'in-thing' for the upper-class women. Along with the tea, there would be small pastries with clotted cream or preserves, delicate sandwiches, and scones. "Low Tea" was the original term given to the afternoon teas created by the Duchess.

Afternoon tea is therefore a light meal typically eaten between 3pm and 5pm. Traditionally, loose tea is brewed in a teapot and served in teacups with milk and sugar.

Lady Fredericks mentions in her diaries in 1866, that ladies met and discussed ‘tea business’, the female equivalent of men discussing politics, thereby giving women a social outlet to discuss topics such as politics etc which were deemed unsuitable for women to discuss in mixed company.Source

Today, afternoon tea around the world is often accompanied by cucumber, egg and cress, fish paste, ham, and smoked salmon sandwiches, scones (with clotted cream and jam) and usually cakes and pastries (such as Battenberg, fruit cake or Victoria sponge).

The food is often served on a tiered stand; there may be no sandwiches, but bread or scones with butter or margarine and optional jam or other spread.

Tea Time around the world via Natasha in Oz

Tea time around the world!

Tea Time around the world via Natasha in Oz

These days, a formal afternoon tea is, nowadays, usually taken as a treat in a hotel, café or tea shop.

In everyday life, many British take a much simpler refreshment consisting of tea and biscuits at teatime.

Tea Time around the world via Natasha in Oz
Tea and biscuits at my place, Brisbane, Australia!

Many people use the term "High Tea" to describe "Afternoon tea" but High Tea is quite different. It was actually served later (around six in the evening) and consisted of a full, dinner meal for the common people. Source

On farms or other working class environments, high tea would be the traditional, substantial meal eaten by the workers immediately after nightfall, and would combine afternoon tea with the main evening meal. Tea was still served, but there would also be meats, fish or eggs, cheese, bread and butter, and sometimes, cake.

Who would have thought that the word "Tea" could mean so many different things to so many people around the world? Whatever the word means for us, I am sure that we would agree that Henry James was definitely correct when he said that

There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the
ceremony known as afternoon tea. 

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Best wishes until next time,

Natasha In Oz 

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  1. Hi Natasha!

    LOVED your tea post - very interseting and great (and mouthwatering0 photos.....

    I feel I need to tell you about one more tea:

    This one is FABULOUS fun - went with a girl friend a few years ago and they had just started their 'summer collection' - what fun -we got so excited, like two little girls and found ourselves walking home with the most gorgeous doggy bags (I think they enjoyed us being so excited -at least we liked to think that at the time....). Still got their pretty menu. So, if you are ever in London and feel like a real treat...!!!

    And I shall now go and have a cup of Earl Grey in the garden - normally a coffee drinker in the mornings, but your post was just too tempting!

    Have a lovely day!!


  2. I did a post on afternoon tea last year, I think it is a lovely "institution" a very British thing!!

    I am having an afternoon tea party in the garden for my 60th birthday next month, but as you know we can never rely on the weather here, so it could end up in the dining room!!

    I am having a give away soon which will include a book " the etiquette of an English tea" so I hope that you and your sisters will enter it.

    Jackie in UK.

  3. great post and jummy pictures! i love tea as well and i have it twice a day (even in thishot italian summer!)
    have a sweet day!

  4. Tea, tea and more tea. Love it. Would love a traditional Japanese Green Tea right now! Lovely post. Would like to visit the Milestone Hotel - looks very swish.

    Speak soon,


  5. Bonjour Natasha. Now this is a delightful post, there's nothing that will make you "feel more British" (apart from the last night at the proms possibly) than a lovely afternoon tea with all the sandwiches, scones etc. Isn't it a shame that it's not really part of everyday life for most people and (apart from the ever expanding waistline being an issue)we're simply too busy to create this kind of thing everyday... Shame really. Have a lovely week, Love from London x

  6. Dearest Natasha,

    I am absolutely delighted that you could join us once again for teatime my dear lady, and teatime around the world no less!..,

    Thanks so much for joining in with 'Tuesday And Wednesday Teatime In Blogland' once again Natasha! The pictures are absolutely delightful and simply marvelous, as always!

    (I've had a few difficulties with a certain foreign blogger, yet the comments section of my own blogs should be open once again soon)..,

    Cheers and hugs from Wanda Lee @ The Plumed Pen

  7. Natasha, what a wonderful posting. I love tea, but rarely make it for myself unless it's a very wintery afternoon. Ice tea is another thing though. I could absolutely drink it all day.
    Have a great day!
    Ladybug Creek

  8. I absolutely LOVE afternoon tea! Lately I've been thinking I need to get back into that habit ... thanks for the prompt ... :)

  9. OOOOH.. love, love, love afternoon tea as in tea at around 4pm as a wonderful treat - the best! x

  10. I am not tea savvy. Thanks for the lesson!

    Your children are lovely. Very penetrating eyes! :O)

  11. Hello Natasha,
    I loved the post and all the information you shared. Tea time for me is around 4 PM, exactly because that's when the kids arrive from school, very hungry and need a snack.
    We never eat dinner before 7PM, so I think we need a little "help" to keep us going until dinner time.
    With so many options of tea, amazing what we can find at the market these days, there's always a new flavor to try.
    And I would say this drink does taste better when served in a beautiful tea cup! Agree?
    Take care.

  12. A delicious post! My favourite is a chai done right - my local bookstore cafe does the best. Cheers :)

  13. Yay..another gorgeous post Natasha..beautiful and inspiring read..i love that hotel..wowza! gorgeous! happy tea!

  14. Natasha - Thank you for stopping by my blog! The Victorians liked pink as much as anyone else does, but they were not obsessed with it, as some people now believe! The name of my blog was inspired by an absolutely awful Pepto-Bismal pink that I've seen in way too many Victorian era homes. Here's the thing - deep red wallpaper was very popular in the Victorian era, and what survives has often faded to a nasty pink, giving people the wrong impression. Hence, the name of my blog!

    All of that aside, this post made my mouth water. I just had a lovely tea last week at a living history museum near Detroit. The macaroons particularly were wonderful. I wish more regular (read - non high end!) places served tea in the North of America....it seems to be more of a Southern thing here. It's so lovely, though, and so relaxing. I'm thinking that I need to host one at my own house sometime, and perhaps invite some of the ladies from church.

  15. Wonderful post Natasha with all the information about having tea.
    Who would have thought that we'd join friends around the world for tea once a week from our own homes?
    I look forward to this time when we can compliment each other on our pretty tea things and what we're serving.
    Hope the hubby takes you out for tea!

  16. Hi Natasha
    I really enjoyed your post today. My first memories of drinking tea were with my grandmother around her old wooden stove in her little clapboard country home near Ottawa, Ont. Canada. Good times, for sure. I collect tea pots, tea cups and of course I try many types of tea. I am your new follower. Deb =^..^=x5 Ottawa, Canada

  17. Natasha, this is absolutely the best tea post I think I've ever read. I enjoyed it SO much! I've been to tea at the Ritz in London, and seeing those wonderful striped dishes at Claridges makes me want to go there as well! What a tablescape!

    We are having tea at the Ritz in Orlando this coming Saturday for my goddaughter's birthday. It's a Peter Rabbit Tea so that should prove interesting. I hope to get some good shots of Cecelia and her best friend!

    Your children are adorable, and I noticed that you are married to an attorney. I am, too, and mine is in court right now. I hope he wins!

    It was lovely having tea with you!

    Happy Tea Time Tuesday...


    Sheila :-)

  18. Afternoon tea not a meal we indulge in here in Italy, however we do enjoy a traditional English cup of tea mid afternoon :)

  19. Natasha, what a fascinating history of "Tea". I had never read any of it and find it so interesting. I love a wonderful tea with a simple sandwich or croissant. All of your pics are fabulous and your children are so adorable. I've really enjoyed my lesson on tea and will always think of it differently from now on. Thanks for joining TTT. Hugs, Marty

  20. I don't drink tea, but the cookies looks so yummy! Cute kids too, looks like they are having a blast! Hope you have a good week :D

  21. It's 4:00 here in Texas, and I think it's tea time--iced tea, that is here in hot, hot Houston. Loved your window into tea time around the world.


  22. Hi Natasha,
    What a wonderfully informative post on tea! I really enjoyed it. I am fascinated with the fact that we can communicate about the subject 'tea' from our own homes and visit one another from little old Prince Edward Island where I am to Colorado to England to Australia where you are. Amazing! Your children are darling! Thanks for your post and for participating with me. Wishing you a lovely week.


  23. Fabulous article!! I've never been to a 'formal tea' at a hotel - would love to go.

    The quote by James is from The Portrait of a Lady if my memory serves me correctly.

  24. I enjoyed looking for tea cups in all your beautiful photos! I really love the green and white tea cups. The silver tea pots are gorgeous!
    The macaroons made me with I could reach through the monitor and take on to eat : )
    Thank you for sharing in Tea Cup Tuesday.

  25. absolutely fascinating read. I have just realised that we call our main meal dinner but my parents call it tea. Hadnt even noticed till now!

  26. I am so going to start tea time around here! Although, it might be Diet Pepsi some days!
    Have a great night!

  27. Hi Natasha! Oh, for one so young, you know so much about tea time! I've enjoyed reading all of the info. Love the different tea settings. I love to take tea when we travel. Your children are just so beautiful like their gorgeous mother! :)
    Be a sweetie,

  28. This is a very nice toast to tea.
    My husband prefers tea, and I like both coffee and tea, but I think America might be more of a coffee drinking country.
    When my daughter was younger, we accompanied another mom and daughter to the Teddy Bear Tea at the Ritz in Atlanta, Ga. Yes it is a fun afternoon for the kids. I think all the little girls enjoy geting dressed up for something special.

  29. Natasha;
    Thank you for such a wonderful post on tea around the world. It's always good to take pause to learn something on a subject that I love. The photos on your blog is just yummy!
    Excuse me while I fix a glass of ice tea, you're welcome to join me.

  30. What a mouthwatering post!
    I sailed around Australia from 1969-1973, it will be interesting to follow your blog and read a bit more about Australia of today. So I am a new follower!
    Have a happy day!

  31. Hello Natasha- That was simply delightful. Your post is very informative and chalk full of beautiful photos. Have a wonderful week. Take care.

  32. Natasha,
    Goodness! What a purely delightful and informative tea post!!!
    Just lovely and thanks for giving us a view of Tea around the world!!


  33. Well, my dear sister friend...you just outdid yourself on this magnificent post. I enjoyed every single word and photo. Just awesome.
    Now, I am inspired to set up a tea party....not today (going out for a day trip) but maybe tomorrow..:)
    xo bj

  34. A very interesting post about tea...I have learned some new things
    Thank you very much for your visit,meeting you is always a pleasure

  35. What a wonderful tea post! I'm quite convinced there are very few pleasures that rival a good cup of tea.

  36. My.. My... Natasha!! What a lovely tea post... The high teas are sooooooooooooooo awesome!! They look gorgeous.. like I simply need to be there!

  37. Interesting. I never really understood this practice until my sister-in-law married a Frenchman, and I was enlightened. It sounds so much better than "snack time."

  38. What fun looking at tea all over looks like you have had some wonderful Teas

    Love Dawn xx

  39. what a fantastic post. it brought back memories of special occasion gatherings at a hotel by the beach for tea with my sisters in Brazil. great post!

  40. This is so interesting and so informational, Natasha. Thanks, I learned so much just from reading it. Your kids are so lovely and the teddy bear tea you all attended looked like so much fun...Christine

  41. rich and fun post.
    love the fresh food and sweet smiles!

  42. This is just so lovely and insightful! I adore tea anywhere anytime, one of my favorites is the Ritz in Bahrain/Middle East. Delightful

  43. Well my little Aussie friend, after reading this post, I am officially hungry. :-) Wish I had one of each thing you pictured! hee-hee!

  44. Hi Natasha,
    Thanks for sharing the differences in having tea. Personally, I am with you, I would go out out for TEA every night if I could :)I just love tea!! No seriously, I do. I am not a coffee drinker so tea is for me, especially at the Milestone Hotel! That place looks heavenly :) Now add in some chocolate or macaroons and I don't think I'd EVER leave!! Haha
    I hope you are well, I haven't seen you in a while, but just know you have been in my thoughts. Life gets so crazy, doesn't it???
    Stop by for a visit, I'd love to see you!! Maybe we can have tea together?

  45. Love your blog! Now I want some 'tea'!!!



  46. Hi Natasha! What a wonderful blog! I loved all your photos and explanations about tea. My favorite dishes were the green and white stiped ones!

  47. What a fantastic post! I love afternoon tea and was fascinated with the history of 'tea'. Thanks so much for putting it all together..Rachaelxx

  48. What a wonderful teatime post. I loved seeing the photos of all the fabulous hotel afternoon teas. The Lanesborough is my favorite, but Claridge's scones sure look scrumptious.

    I'm glad your cute kids are learning to appreciate afternoon tea at a young age. :-)

  49. love the accompanying goodies with the tea! i don't like tea, so i wish they had "high coffee" or something with snacks, desserts, and coffee! and who knew tea could mean dinner!

    thanks so much for stopping by the cape on the corner, and for your comment on my cloche! it took forever to find one, but i am so glad i did. thanks for following, too, i so much appreciate your support!

    have a fantastic weekend!

  50. Wow Natasha! This would be a perfect post to highlight tomorrow on my Tuesday Tea post! I love it!

    BTW, my daughter-in-law is from Germany. We spent three weeks there and discovered that TEA is quite a big deal there...must have tea, and pastry..and especially lots of whipped cream. It's not dessert without the whipped cream.

    She, and my son, and the grandkids were just over for a casual afternoon yesterday, and of course, she was hunting through my fridge for the leftover New Year's desserts (they came then too)and the whipped cream. She and Andrew are so young, she's like my own daughter. She's always welcome to scrounge through my fridge..LOL!

    That tea habit is more important to many people than we Americans can ever quite understand. Thanks for reminding me.


  51. I came by way of Donna's site.
    I love your blog...lovely! I am now following you and adding you to my side bar.
    So glad Donna mentioned you.

  52. Quite a lot of good information and pictures of some stunning tea tables!

    Afternoon tea whether just for one with a cup of tea and a nosh or for many with an opulent spread is a wonderful tradition!

  53. It is SO much fun to see tea enjoyed in so many different setting!

  54. What a fun post and so informative. I wish we had a good tea salon here in Atlanta area! There are a few hotels that do tea but not as well as what I have had in UK and Paris.
    Love your blog
    Marie Arden Pink Living

  55. Hi Natasha...

    What a fun and informative post, my friend! I loved reading some of the facts, etc. about tea and the different types of teas! Again, your photos are just beautiful! Wow...there were some really beautiful teas set! What an awesome experience to be able to take tea in so many different and interesting places! Thanks for sharing them with us!

    Warmest wishes,
    Chari @Happy To Design

  56. Oh, thanks for telling us all about the tea around the world. Very nice!

  57. *sigh* I love tea in all its forms!



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