To tell the Afternoon Tea/High Tea story properly, one must begin with the invention of the sandwich: The British 4th Earl of Sandwich (1718-1792) was a gambler, who didn’t have time to leave the room to eat when stakes were high, so he asked his butler to bring him a steak between two pieces of bread (easier to hold, no mess). The Earl won the next few rounds and his cogamblers were mesmerized!
Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford invented Afternoon Tea in 1840, when she experienced a blood-sugar-low around 4 pm and couldn’t wait for dinner at 9 pm…so she had her butlers bring her some sandwiches & cake. This became a habit, and soon Anna let her friends in on the secret, who quickly took up the custom in their afternoon schedules. It became quite fashionable to invite friends to have tea and dress up nicely in long gowns. In Edwardian times, tea hour was at 5pm, and had become a big social event. The silver, porcelain and tea pots were of great importance, rules & etiquette were established around the whole tea drinking procedure. It was a very light affair, where small-talk was appropriate. Those who didn’t have the means to host an Afternoon Tea would meet in teashops. You get to come here instead!