High Tea Traditions

When considering the idea and concept of High Tea for the Art of Elegance Fair, it became clear there was a lot of mystique around the exact origin of this famous term for taking tea in the afternoon.  This is possibly due to travel and globe hopping of past generations over the centuries, who took traditions with them, adapting them to lifestyle, weather, and different tastes.   High Tea does not mean the same thing in the UK as it does in the USA.  In Australia, the English traditions tended to shape what came next, due to the high number of British Isles immigrants.  Here is an assortment of links and facts to further baffle the reader, and makes it clear you can have your High Tea traditional, but be sure to give it your own authentic flavour or twist.   The tea tables at the Dunolly Town Hall are definitely high, and are definitely over a century old, so this part of the tradition is upheld!

Afternoon Tea History, UK – This helpful link explains the original reason High Tea was called what it is, and the reason is the height of the table it was set upon.  There was also a low tea, for a low table, which seems to have swapped places with the High Tea time wise, or something like that!  Read on for a very interesting article about Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford, who started it all with “that sinking feeling” around mid afternoon…


Above: Mrs Ferber from 1800’s Talbot probably visited friends around the Goldfields region  for afternoon tea.

Lyons Tea House and Tea Taking Traditions in the UK – This is taking the story further, from the origins mentioned in the above link, but with more detail, and makes good reading. Lots of history and interesting detail surrounding social manners and how habits were changed around tea traditions by the opening of places like Lyons Tea House.

UK Tea Council – A site devoted to information on traditional tea taking customs in England.

Etiquette and History of Afternoon Tea – This site gives another side to the tale of tea, giving the origins of afternoon tea to the wife of King Charles II, Catherine Braganza, which makes interesting reading.

National Trust UK Treasure Hunt Blog by Emile Bruijn has wonderful information on earlier eras and tea traditions, among other things, and also discusses interesting people and collections of these eras.


Different Ideas for Styles of High and Afternoon Tea:

Champagne Afternoon Tea at Blenheim Palace, UK

Hopetoun Tearooms High Tea, Melbourne, Victoria

Mamor European Chocolates and High Tea, Collingwood, Victoria

Roald Dahl’s Afternoon Tea for Kids UK

Tea Room, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria


Best source of High Tea events anywhere – The High Tea Society, Australia.  Take a look at their videos of High Tea for ideas how to host your own: High Tea Videos.

Words: copyright M. Roleff 2011

Images: copyright T. Titshall 2011 (Dunolly Main Street, Historic buildings Dunolly, afternoon tea, Mrs Ferber, crockery and ephemera, store advertising decals from Dunolly main street.)

7 Responses “High Tea Traditions” →

  1. Rachel Buckley

    January 19, 2012

    This is an excellent concept and I am lookin forward to the FAir and High Tea. Wonderful – well done!



  2. Cel Turvey

    January 27, 2012

    I’ll be there, can’t wait, just my ” cup of tea” !

    How do i book for the High Tea ?



  3. Erin Tink

    May 4, 2012

    Would love to book high tea for mothers day, could you let me know how to book 🙂


    • Hi Erin, not sure if spaces left, but best to call Fairytale Frostings direct on 5461 5080, wonderful, Monika – Art of Elegance Fair


  4. Hi! Someone in my Myspace group shared this website with us so I came to check it out.
    I’m definitely loving the information. I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers!
    Great blog and terrific style and design.



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