I used to think my best friend Rhi’s family were very posh because of how they took their daily meals.

They would have a hot meal at 1pm, which they called "lunch" and which might be something like sausages, or eggs (or my personal favourite, pyttipanna, a type of Swedish potato hash which seemed very exotic), then "tea" would be eaten at 4pm, which would be sandwiches and cake, followed by "supper" at 7pm, which would be the main meal of the day.

At our rather less posh house, we would have dinner in the middle of the day, which might be soup, beans on toast or a sandwich, then tea at 6pm, which was the main meal of the day. We might also have a cup of tea in the middle of the afternoon with a biscuit or two. "Supper" happened just before bed and was a hot drink or a glass of milk with a bowl of cereal.

What you call your mealtimes is a legacy of your roots. The working classes, who would have been doing hard physical labour for five or six hours by the time "dinnertime" came around, would be ready for a substantial hot meal at noon. The upper classes on the other hand, would quite possibly have a hot "luncheon", but their main meal would not be taken before 7pm and would either be a formal "dinner" (often when guests were being entertained) or a less formal "supper".

I was walking near Rosedale with a friend recently when we passed a farm which he remembered used to sell "high tea" to passersby when he was a child. I immediately assumed he was referring to "afternoon tea", the kind of dainty fare we are accustomed to buying from quaint little tea shops, and which consist of delicate sandwiches, cakes and scones.

But he wasn’t. He meant a different meal entirely, and one that seems to have died out out in recent years, or at least to have evolved into simply "tea". "High tea" was a substantial hot meal featuring meat or fish, vegetables and bread, and was always accompanied by a pot of tea. It would be served after 5pm once the working day was done. You would sit on high-backed chairs at the dining table, hence "high" tea.

My friend remembered eating things like gammon and eggs or a meat pie with potatoes in the dining room of the farmhouse. My guess is that the owners probably had plenty of food that they produced themselves, and therefore decided to make a bit of extra cash by offering it to travellers passing their way. And why not? They would be making a large meal for themselves anyway, so they may as well sell the excess to those who would appreciate having a hearty meal cooked for them.

Interestingly, I am not the only one who has confused these two traditional teas. When I started to research this piece, many references to "afternoon tea" came up when what I was actually looking for was "high tea". Only a handful of websites went to the effort of describing the difference between the two.

"Afternoon tea" very definitely has its roots among the upper classes, with Anna Russell, 7th Duchess of Bedford and lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria, being given the credit of starting the trend in around 1840. The Duchess would find it difficult to last the long interval between luncheon at 1pm and dinner at 8pm without a light bite to eat. She asked for a tray of bread and cakes, along with a pot of tea, to be brought to her in her private quarters. It became a daily ritual, and soon she would ask her friends to come a share the tea with her. It was also referred to as "low tea" due to the fact it was served on a lower table than a formal dining table, and consisted of foods that could be eaten with the fingers from a small plate while sitting on more comfortable chairs. It quickly became a fashion trend, and soon wealthy ladies could be found gathering in smart hotels for a gossip over afternoon tea.

Do you have any recollections of "high tea", and what did you eat? Get in touch by contacting this paper, or at my contact page at www.countrymansdaughter.com.

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