Legend has it that the High Tea tradition began in England in the late 1800s. At that time dinner was eaten late in the evening around 9pm, often leaving people hungry in the afternoon.
The Duchess of Bedford complained of a “sinking feeling” in her stomach during the day, and began taking tea and light snacks in the afternoon. She invited her friends to join her tea breaks, and the idea spread like wildfire through their social circles. Afternoon tea was the perfect way to enjoy a meal and socialize with friends.
While afternoon tea was characterized by lighter fare, high tea was traditionally a heavier meal served at the end of a work day on a high table (hence the name).