Time for High Tea: and some recipes for you

Time for High Tea: and some recipes for you

Article and recipes from Evolve Autumn 2018

It is said that the tradition of tea in the afternoon was established by Anne, Duchess of Bedford. She requested that light sandwiches be brought to her in the late afternoon because she had a "sinking feeling" during that time because of the long gap between meals.

In the 21st Century, a special afternoon tea is often referred to as High Tea, conjuring an idea of elegance and finesse. 

However, it wasn't always so. Originally, High Tea was an evening meal, most often enjoyed around 6 pm as labourers and miners returned home. High Tea consisted of meat and potatoes as well as other foods and tea. It was not exclusively a working-class meal but was adopted by all social groups.

A genteel festivity

So, while Afternoon Tea was largely a social event for their upper class counterparts, High Tea was a necessary meal for the working class in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. 

Traditional High Tea still exists in some parts of Northern England and Scotland. 

The origin of the name stems from the fact that 'high tea' was taken standing up or sitting on tall stools, thus 'high'.

In comparison, Low or Afternoon Tea was taken whilst seating in low, comfortable chairs or sofas. 

The upper classes developed their own variation – a meal that could be eaten when their servants were away or not available, so it was easy to prepare. The upper class 'high tea' involved the amalgamation of Afternoon Tea and High Tea, with the addition of pigeon, veal, salmon and fruit.

Today, High Tea is synonymous with genteel festivities and special occasions.

Here are some recipes for you to host your own high tea!

Salmon Devilled Eggs

Salmon Devilled Eggs.JPG

Salmon Devilled Eggs


Makes 12 individual serves

•6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and halved lengthwise • 2 tbsp cream cheese • 2 tbsp mayonnaise • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds, plus more for garnish • 1 tsp toasted dehydrated minced onion, plus more for garnish • ¼ tsp toasted caraway seeds, plus more  for garnish • Smoked salmon slices to garnish • Chives – thinly sliced


Place all of the yolks in a medium bowl. Select 8 of the most perfect egg white halves and set aside. Reserve the remaining whites for another use. Add cream cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, sesame seeds, and caraway seeds to yolks and, mash and stir together until thoroughly combined. Add chopped chives and season with salt.

Transfer yolk filling to zipperlock bag. Filling and egg white halves can be stored covered in the refrigerator overnight before filling and serving (lay egg white halves cut-side-down on a large plate and cover with plastic wrap). Cut off corner of zipper-lock bag and pipe filling mixture into egg white halves, overstuffing each hole.

Garnish deviled eggs with sesame seeds, caraway seeds, smoked salmon, and extra chives.

Serve immediately.

Goat's cheese and fig tarts

Goats cheese and fig tarts.JPG

Goat's cheese and fig tarts


Makes 24 mini tartlets

• Puff pastry (frozen) • 3 tbsp of olive oil • 3 red onions, very finely sliced • 2 tspns of balsamic vinegar • Salt & pepper • 12 to 15 very ripe figs (about 320g) • 150g of goats cheese (preferably in a log shape) • A few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed • A little more extra virgin olive oil for drizzling


Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC. Heat the oil in a saucepan on a gentle heat. Add the finely sliced onions and cook slowly for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring regularly, until very soft. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and a pinch each of salt and ground black pepper. Allow to bubble for a minute or two before setting aside to cool.

Meanwhile cut each of the figs into 6 segments and cut the goats cheese into 24 thin rounds. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface as thinly as you can, to a 1 - 2 millimetre thickness. Cut into rounds with a 8 cm diameter pastry cutter glass until you have 24 pastry rounds. Lay the rounds in the two tart or cake tins and press down lightly. Place a small teaspoon of the red onions at the bottom of each, followed by a slice of the goats cheese, a scattering of thyme leaves.

Finally place three fig segments on the top of each, plus a fine grinding of black pepper and the merest drizzle of olive oil.

Place in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the pastry’s golden brown and crisp.

Mini Victorian Sponges

Mini Victorian Sponges.JPG

Mini Victorian Sponge


Makes 12 mini sponges

• 110g softened butter • 110g caster sugar • 2 eggs • 1 tsp vanilla extract • 120g self raising flour • 1 tsp baking powder • 2 tbsp milk • 6 tbsp jam of your choice • 300ml double cream • 2 tbsp icing sugar • 1 tsp icing sugar to dust


Line 12 muffin cases with silicon paper, and preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. To make the cakes, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until well combined. 

Add the flour, baking powder and milk and whisk by hand or electric whisk slowly until the mixture is smooth with no lumps. Separate the mixture equally into the 12 muffin cases then bake in the oven for 15 minutes. A skewer should come out clean when the cakes are ready to come out of the oven. Transfer the cakes onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Whip the cream. Once the cakes have completely cooled, use a sharp knife to cut the cakes in half horizontally. Spread over a generous amount of jam on one side of each of the cakes. Put the whipped cream in a piping bag and pipe a generous amount on the opposite side of the cakes. Sandwich the two halves together.

Dust the tops of the cakes with icing sugar and serve.

Main image photo by Lucas Alexander on Unsplash

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