English Tea Times For Dummies

You’re an American in London. You’ve visited Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and the Tower of London, but there’s one more thing you want to check off your to-do list: tea. The problem is, you know nothing about taking tea in Britain. Should you raise your pinky while sipping? What time do the Brits take tea anyway? First up is “elevenses” — the late-morning break that involves a light snack like muffins or scones and hot tea. It occurs, as the name implies, at 11 a.m. “Afternoon tea” is a kind of fancy-schmancy affair where you might spot Lady Mary of Downton Abbey. It consists of dainty, crustless finger sandwiches, cakes, and other light snacks. It’s generally served around 3 p.m. Finally, there’s “high tea,” which occurs between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. It’s a substantial meal, typically offering meat or fish, vegetables, bread, and hot tea. High tea is more of a hoity-toity affair where people sit at actual tables, rather than couches and armchairs like afternoon tea. So, now that you have all the tea times and rituals down, all that’s left to do is get yourself across the pond.