If you are settling in after your move to London, you might find some of your new friends and acquaintances talking about having ‘tea’, and while the English do have a reputation for being a nation of tea drinkers, it might be worthwhile learning about the distinction between tea, high tea and dinner or supper. Many people in London still refer to their evening meal as ‘tea’ although there is no tea served! Having tea is a meal that is served in the early evening when people get home from work. It is early than most people eat their dinner, but it is a casual meal, usually served at the kitchen table so that children can be included in the meal. Served at around 5 pm, it is a small snack if you going out later in the evening for a meal, or it can even be a full meal.
Steak, egg and chips
A favourite meal for many people in England. This version of the mixed grill is about as English as it gets, and many people even have toast with their meal, which might sound a little like breakfast in the evening, but when in Rome… there is a certain comfort factor in having your breakfast meal at the end of the day and many people even consider steak, egg and chips to be a family favourite.
If you are invited for a kitchen supper, then it is a casual meal, very informal and it will usually involve a number of friends sitting outside if the weather is clement or around the kitchen table enjoying snacks and finger food.
This really is an English tradition and one that you have to experience in the grand tradition of the upper classes in England and London. Not many people will serve high tea in their homes as it does mean a lot of work and the best way to experience this quintessential English tradition is to take high tea at one of the upmarket London hotels that continue the tradition to this day. It is a ritual that harks back to a time when life was less stressed and rushed, and people had time to enjoy a later afternoon tea before preparing for the evening’s entertainment. If you want to indulge yourself and impress your overseas guests then take them to ‘The Ritz Hotel’ that serves high-tea every afternoon in the sumptuous and elegant ‘Palm Court’. Not just a British tradition, this is still one of the most fashionable places to be seen in. Another traditional hotel that puts on a show for high tea is Claridges Hotel.
Living in London will offer up so many little treats that should be experienced as a part of the fabric of this unique and traditional, yet ultra cosmopolitan city. Experience them all and you will be creating memories that will last a lifetime.