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View Full Version : Mighty Is Rich: Is there such a thing as a teashop (restaurant) in England?


Spectre of Pithecanthropus
02-24-2010, 11:46 PM
Possibly I should have put this in CS, because the question is inspired by a very funny novel I'm reading, A Year In The Merde by Stephen Clarke. The first person narrator, Paul, is a twenty-seven year old food company consultant who spends a year in Paris (well, he's supposed to anyway, so don't tell me if it doesn't work out).

His job in Paris is to help a local food processing company to launch a chain of English-style tea shops (where you would sit down and be served tea, not buy it in bulk and take it home). But I'm beginning to wonder if that, in itself, isn't the big underlying joke of the novel. In the UK, isn't tea something you have wherever you happen to be? Paul makes the point that it's a very basic component of English culture, saying at one point that nothing would get built if the builders didn't have tea, soldiers won't fight if they don't get it, and so on. It seems so basic that the idea of going to a special place to have it isn't something that wouldn't occur to you. In the U.S., high tea is often served in hotels and cruise ships waiting to depart in the evening. You can sit in the ship's salon and accept more hot water and another cucumber sandwich from the stewards while you look out at your car in the parking lot ashore, and notice that you've left your lights on. To us it's somewhat exotic. But I would have thought that any open restaurant, pub, or hotel in England will serve you a high tea in the afternoon if you walk in and order it.

Would such a tea-shop make any kind of sense in the real world?

The first part of my thread title comes from the book. When Paul is introduced to his French team, it turns out they already have a name for the enterprise in mind: My Tea Is Rich. Or, that's the best we can figure out from their pronunciation, "Mah Tee Is Rich". I'm expecting that, on the last page, I'll learn that this was a regrettable misunderstanding, and it was meant to be something else that got entirely lost in "translation". Paul tries heroically to explain that My Tea Is Rich makes very little sense in any variety of English, but is assured that it does make sense to the French.

I highly recommend the book.

njtt
02-25-2010, 02:10 AM
Well, I have not lived in England for 20 years, but I grew up there, and there were teashops all over the place. You should understand that, as American Coffee Shops do not only serve coffee, English teashops do not only serve tea. Indeed, they are much the same sort of thing, and you can probably get either tea or coffee in either.

BobC
02-25-2010, 02:27 AM
They are particularly prevalent in quaint tourist areas , they usually serve tea with buttered scones and jam . Old ladies love them .

mhendo
02-25-2010, 02:36 AM
In the U.S., high tea is often served in hotels and cruise ships waiting to depart in the evening. You can sit in the ship's salon and accept more hot water and another cucumber sandwich from the stewards while you look out at your car in the parking lot ashore, and notice that you've left your lights on. To us it's somewhat exotic. But I would have thought that any open restaurant, pub, or hotel in England will serve you a high tea in the afternoon if you walk in and order it. As the other respondents have noted, there are plenty of tea shops in England.

Also, it's worth noting that "high tea" in England is NOT the same as the sort of afternoon tea that you describe here. High tea isn't just a pot of tea and cucumber sandwiches; it is actually a term for a relatively light, early evening meal. While the term "high tea" has become common in the US to refer to posh afternoon tea in fancy hotels, this is not how the English use the term.

I worked at an upscale country house hotel in England for a couple of years, and we would sometimes serve high tea at about 5.00 or 6.00 to children, who would then be left in their rooms to watch TV while their parents came down to the dining room later for a formal meal.

Quartz
02-25-2010, 02:50 AM
The first part of my thread title comes from the book. When Paul is introduced to his French team, it turns out they already have a name for the enterprise in mind: My Tea Is Rich. Or, that's the best we can figure out from their pronunciation, "Mah Tee Is Rich". I'm expecting that, on the last page, I'll learn that this was a regrettable misunderstanding, and it was meant to be something else that got entirely lost in "translation". Paul tries heroically to explain that My Tea Is Rich makes very little sense in any variety of English, but is assured that it does make sense to the French.

Concerning that brand name, something that would be known to an English reader...

Rich Tea is a brand of biscuit in the U.K.

Mangetout
02-25-2010, 03:09 AM
They are most often called 'Tea Rooms', at least everywhere I have seen them (typically villages popular with tourists)

One And Only Wanderers
02-25-2010, 03:30 AM
Betty's tea room in York were always packed when I was at Uni there, but then, York is awash in tourists.

Wallenstein
02-25-2010, 03:43 AM
Our local tea shop is pretty much the quintessential english olde worlde tea shoppe:

http://www.thomasokentearooms.com/

Typical order is a pot of tea with a piece of cake or a scone and jam - very genteel and lovely.

Builders and labourers etc would more likely have their tea break in a more rough-n-ready cafe, perhaps with a bacon sandwich or fried all-day breakfast (hence the name "greasy spoon" for this type of establishment).

sinical brit
02-25-2010, 04:35 AM
Joe average isnt going into a tea shop at all. Although he may drink a lot of cups of tea during the day. Old ladies may frequent such an establishment, but i wouldn't call it common.

You can go into most food establishments and get a cuppa, but you arnt going to get 'high tea'.

GuanoLad
02-25-2010, 04:40 AM
When I was a kid, all cafes were called "tea rooms" and had all sorts of snacks available alongside the tea.

But these days they are all very different, and aren't even slightly appealing to me anymore. The "improvements" in food quality and variety have taken all the charm out of them.

sinical brit
02-25-2010, 05:15 AM
True Guanolad. My idea of tea room is the one in Withnail. ' I want cake and fine wine' !

aldiboronti
02-25-2010, 06:18 AM
Also, it's worth noting that "high tea" in England is NOT the same as the sort of afternoon tea that you describe here. High tea isn't just a pot of tea and cucumber sandwiches; it is actually a term for a relatively light, early evening meal. While the term "high tea" has become common in the US to refer to posh afternoon tea in fancy hotels, this is not how the English use the term.

I worked at an upscale country house hotel in England for a couple of years, and we would sometimes serve high tea at about 5.00 or 6.00 to children, who would then be left in their rooms to watch TV while their parents came down to the dining room later for a formal meal.

Yes. The strict definition of high tea is (from the Oxford English Dictionary), "a tea at which meat is served."

1831 F. A. KEMBLE Rec. Girlhood 14 June (1878) III. 49 We did not return home till near nine, and so, instead of dinner, all sat down to high tea.

1922 W. S. MAUGHAM Chinese Screen xlix. 193 He thought of the high tea to which he sat down when he came home from school.., a slice of cold meat, a great deal of bread and butter and plenty of milk in his tea.

Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party
02-25-2010, 06:37 AM
There's plenty of tea rooms in Edinburgh.

Nava
02-25-2010, 06:48 AM
The first part of my thread title comes from the book. When Paul is introduced to his French team, it turns out they already have a name for the enterprise in mind: My Tea Is Rich. Or, that's the best we can figure out from their pronunciation, "Mah Tee Is Rich". I'm expecting that, on the last page, I'll learn that this was a regrettable misunderstanding, and it was meant to be something else that got entirely lost in "translation". Paul tries heroically to explain that My Tea Is Rich makes very little sense in any variety of English, but is assured that it does make sense to the French.

Maybe they studied English from the same book as my mother, who, fifty years later, remembers only the first line:

My father is rich and my taylor in the kitchen.


Why did the book's writers think that made sense, I have no idea, but I have seen the book and that really is its first sentence.

Wendell Wagner
02-25-2010, 07:04 AM
This entry explains the difference between afternoon tea and high tea. (Look at the section labeled "United Kingdom"):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_(meal)

As it explains, the term "afternoon tea" is the one that applies to the mid-afternoon meal, the one that you would expect old ladies to eat in a tea shop on a day when they had been out shopping as a break before going back out for another couple of hours. It's not a full meal in general. Later that evening they might expect to eat a full meal at home.

The term "high tea" refers to something completely different. A high tea is a full meal. It's roughly an early supper. I presume that the reason that Americans tend to confuse these two meals is the use of the term "high." They assume that a high tea must be something high-minded and elegant. It's actually just the opposite. A high tea is more of a working-class thing, while an afternoon tea is more of an upper-class thing.

(If any Brits want to correct me on this, go ahead. I haven't lived in the U.K. for nineteen years and haven't been back on vacation for four years, so my memories might not be correct.)

Quartz
02-25-2010, 07:07 AM
Paul tries heroically to explain that My Tea Is Rich makes very little sense in any variety of English, but is assured that it does make sense to the French.

Mon thé est riche does indeed make sense in French. Plug the words into an online translator if you want to be spoiled.

psychonaut
02-25-2010, 07:10 AM
I've never seen a tea room in London. If there are any they're hiding themselves very well. However, I do often see them in villages and small tourist towns. They seem to be run and frequented by little old ladies.

Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party
02-25-2010, 07:19 AM
The term "high tea" refers to something completely different. A high tea is a full meal. It's roughly an early supper. I presume that the reason that Americans tend to confuse these two meals is the use of the term "high." They assume that a high tea must be something high-minded and elegant. It's actually just the opposite. A high tea is more of a working-class thing, while an afternoon tea is more of an upper-class thing.

(If any Brits want to correct me on this, go ahead. I haven't lived in the U.K. for nineteen years and haven't been back on vacation for four years, so my memories might not be correct.)

It's more a regional thing now than a class one. In Northern England and parts of Scotland "tea" is the evening meal and "dinner" is what you eat at midday. In the rest of the country the two meals are called "dinner" and "lunch". Nobody calls it "high tea", just "tea".

Sigmagirl
02-25-2010, 07:22 AM
Judith Martin, aka Miss Manners, says that the "high" in "high tea" means that "It's high time we had something to eat."

Mangetout
02-25-2010, 07:42 AM
I've never seen a tea room in London. If there are any they're hiding themselves very well. There are some businesses named 'tea room' in London, but I expect a lot of them are actually general-purpose cafe/coffee shop establishments, simply because restricting themselves to traditional tea room fare would just be turning away a big chunk of the potential trade (and I imagine that's business suicide in a big city)

Wendell Wagner
02-25-2010, 07:53 AM
Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party, the interesting thing is that I grew up on a farm (in northwest Ohio) and learned to say "breakfast - dinner - supper" for the three meals. From college on, though, I heard other people saying "breakfast - lunch - dinner" for the three meals and eventually changed over to saying that.

SanVito
02-25-2010, 07:59 AM
Tea Rooms used to be everywhere and were the equivalent of a modern day coffee shop (like Starbucks). There used to be a famous chain of tea rooms in London called 'Lyons Corner Houses (http://www.kzwp.com/lyons/cornerhouses.htm)'. You can often see them in old films or period dramas as a place for genteel women to rest their feet during a shopping trip (see Brief Encounter for an example).

There's a famous English tea rooms by the Spanish Steps in Rome called Babbingtons (http://www.babingtons.net/) which was started by a pair of English women in the nineteenth century to cater to English tourists desperate for a taste of home. It's still going strong and is very popular with Roman politicians and intelligentsia. It's a weird place, liking stepping through a timewarp into Victorian England right in the heart of Rome.

Tea Rooms have fallen out of fashion with the growing coffee shop industry and the cultural shift which means women can now go to pubs instead without attracting abuse. As others have said, they're still popular in tourist spots (with both foreigners and British alike). Sometimes a sit down with a nice pot of tea (NEVER a limp bag in a luke warm mug of water ::shudder::) and a cake is just the ticket after a hard day's sightseeing.

Colophon
02-25-2010, 08:12 AM
I've read the book and I'm sure the "My Tea Is Rich" name was explained as a pun on "My Tailor Is Rich", which is said to be a stock phrase in English textbooks at French schools. Like "le singe est dans l'arbre" in French textbooks in England (see Eddie Izzard).

So, similar to what Nava said, but the phrase seems subtly different.

Colophon
02-25-2010, 08:18 AM
Too late for the edit, but this Amazon review (http://www.amazon.co.uk/review/R344I63JA0T5IQ/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm) backs up what I said about the name:
For those other reviewers who don't understand "My Tea Is Rich", it comes from an old English language course where a phrase remembered by almost all French persons over a certain age is "My tailor is rich" (very useful, n'est-ce pas?).
I lived in Paris for 4 years, and unfortunately for me over there my name is Mike Taylor, so inevitably I got "Mike Taylor is rich" almost every other day ... if only I were.

runcible spoon
02-25-2010, 10:16 AM
Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party, the interesting thing is that I grew up on a farm (in northwest Ohio) and learned to say "breakfast - dinner - supper" for the three meals. From college on, though, I heard other people saying "breakfast - lunch - dinner" for the three meals and eventually changed over to saying that.

As an aside, my work schedule has caused me to start eating four meals a day, which I call breakfast, lunch, supper (around 4:30) and dinner (8:00 or 9:00). I'm American, though, so the only tea I have is with breakfast.

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
02-25-2010, 11:54 AM
The term "high tea" refers to something completely different. A high tea is a full meal. It's roughly an early supper. I presume that the reason that Americans tend to confuse these two meals is the use of the term "high." They assume that a high tea must be something high-minded and elegant. It's actually just the opposite. A high tea is more of a working-class thing, while an afternoon tea is more of an upper-class thing.
Correct, I don't think many people here are aware of this distinction. When you say "afternoon tea", you mean just tea, possibly with toast or biscuits, right? And "full tea" is tea with with the above but also various small kinds of sandwiches, eggs, and so on?" If so, most Americans probably think the reverse is true. I'm pretty sure there's a scene in Brideshead Revisited where an elaborate full tea is served to the guests, buffet style, when they return from the hunt. There's also a Wodehouse story where Bertie serves a full tea to the local Marxist revolutionary cell, although IIRC Bingo Little dictated the menu, possibly in an effort to reach their working class hearts.

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
02-25-2010, 11:57 AM
Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party, the interesting thing is that I grew up on a farm (in northwest Ohio) and learned to say "breakfast - dinner - supper" for the three meals. From college on, though, I heard other people saying "breakfast - lunch .- dinner" for the three meals and eventually changed over to saying that.I think this is common in farm areas here. Was "dinner" the biggest meal of the day?

salinqmind
02-25-2010, 11:57 AM
A sit-down with a nice pot of tea and a cake after a hard day sounds heavenly. Doing so in a quaint old-lady tea room sounds doubly heavenly. That would be my dream job in my retirement, running a nice tea room , cranking out the lemon-berry mini-muffins, the cinnamon scones.... Booze, Prozac, pot, coke, ecstasy, and speed are probably more hip. Let us oldsters have our nice sit-down with tea and cake! (actually, the last time I was at a tea room, it was a Starbucks, and I had chai tea and poppyseed cake, and it was a very nice experience).

SanVito
02-25-2010, 12:02 PM
A sit-down with a nice pot of tea and a cake after a hard day sounds heavenly. Doing so in a quaint old-lady tea room sounds doubly heavenly. That would be my dream job in my retirement, running a nice tea room , cranking out the lemon-berry mini-muffins, the cinnamon scones.... Booze, Prozac, pot, coke, ecstasy, and speed are probably more hip. Let us oldsters have our nice sit-down with tea and cake!

Then you're going to love this (http://www.nicecupofteaandasitdown.com/mission.php3)

Ludovic
02-25-2010, 12:06 PM
They are most often called 'Tea Rooms', at least everywhere I have seen them (typically villages popular with tourists)
We have Tea Rooms in America, in Britain I understand they are called "Cottages" :)

SanVito
02-25-2010, 12:08 PM
Correct, I don't think many people here are aware of this distinction. When you say "afternoon tea", you mean just tea, possibly with toast or biscuits, right? And "full tea" is tea with with the above but also various small kinds of sandwiches, eggs, and so on?" If so, most Americans probably think the reverse is true. I'm pretty sure there's a scene in Brideshead Revisited where an elaborate full tea is served to the guests, buffet style, when they return from the hunt. There's also a Wodehouse story where Bertie serves a full tea to the local Marxist revolutionary cell, although IIRC Bingo Little dictated the menu, possibly in an effort to reach their working class hearts.

You're getting a bit confused. There's no such thing as 'full tea'. There's:

Afternoon tea: this is the full-on posh meal you've seen in Brideshead: cucumber sandwiches, cakes, variety of teas, served around 4pm, invented by some Duchess I believe, who thought there was too big a gap between lunch at 1pm and dinner at 8pm. Historically associated with the upper classes (who else could stop for a meal at 4pm?), now the preserve of big hotels.

High tea: Usually just going by the name of 'tea', served around 6pm as an early dinner, commonly (historically) associated with the working classes. Might not even include an actual cup of tea.

Neither of these terms should be confused with a cup of tea, which is just a cup of tea.

I'm parched, put the kettle on luv.

Hello Again
02-25-2010, 12:13 PM
I seem to be the first to mention Cream Tea which is tea with scones that come with devonshire/clotted cream, and jam. It isn't as involved or expensive as Afternoon Tea. Is this a regionalism? I've only ever been to tea shops in Yorkshire.

SanVito
02-25-2010, 12:19 PM
I seem to be the first to mention Cream Tea which is tea with scones that come with devonshire/clotted cream, and jam. It isn't as involved or expensive as Afternoon Tea. Is this a regionalism? I've only ever been to tea shops in Yorkshire.

No, it's universal. Particularly great in Devon or Cornwall, obviously.

TruCelt
02-25-2010, 12:34 PM
. . . But I'm beginning to wonder if that, in itself, isn't the big underlying joke of the novel. In the UK, isn't tea something you have wherever you happen to be? Paul makes the point that it's a very basic component of English culture, saying at one point that nothing would get built if the builders didn't have tea, soldiers won't fight if they don't get it, and so on. It seems so basic that the idea of going to a special place to have it isn't something that wouldn't occur to you.

As ridiculous an idea as Starbucks here in the US.

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
02-25-2010, 02:18 PM
Mon thé est riche does indeed make sense in French. Plug the words into an online translator if you want to be spoiled.I tried that and it didn't make any more sense. I know what the words mean, but it doesn't make sense (to me) to call tea "rich".

Chronos
02-25-2010, 02:33 PM
Quoth Wallenstein:Builders and labourers etc would more likely have their tea break in a more rough-n-ready cafe, perhaps with a bacon sandwich or fried all-day breakfast (hence the name "greasy spoon" for this type of establishment).Greasy spoons aren't unique to England. We have much the same sort of establishments here in the US, and call them by the same name. Except, of course, blue-collar workers would get a cup of coffee in ours, not tea.

Seems kind of odd to have a food-related term that actually means the same thing on both sides of the pond, doesn't it?

salinqmind
02-25-2010, 02:48 PM
Then you're going to love this (http://www.nicecupofteaandasitdown.com/mission.php3)

EEEE! The preciousness! I have some PG Tips Tea in my pantry!... OK, I'm throwing a tea party for me and the cat while we're snowed in here!... Do have another potted pilchard on a scone, Fluffy!

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
02-25-2010, 05:56 PM
Quoth Wallenstein:Greasy spoons aren't unique to England. We have much the same sort of establishments here in the US, and call them by the same name. Except, of course, blue-collar workers would get a cup of coffee in ours, not tea.

You can order tea just about anywhere in the U.S., but what you'll get is a cup, full of hot water and a teabag on the side. Most people here don't understand the importance of pouring the boiling water directly on the leaves and letting them steep before it goes into the cup. Moreover, the cup you are given is very apt to be paper, unless you are at a sit-down restaurant, and IMO the subtle flavors of good tea don't stand up well to that.

Mangetout
02-25-2010, 07:30 PM
We have Tea Rooms in America, in Britain I understand they are called "Cottages" :)

Dunno if you're whooshing me here, but I know of only two common usages of the term 'cottage':

A small house, often with a thatched roof
A public toilet frequented by homosexuals

Ludovic
02-25-2010, 07:49 PM
Dunno if you're whooshing me here, but I know of only two common usages of the term 'cottage':

A small house, often with a thatched roof
A public toilet frequented by homosexuals
Didn't mean to intentionally whoosh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tearoom_(disambiguation)), although the thought did enter the back of my mind that some might be whooshed.

ETA: thus the smiley :o

Fake Tales of San Francisco
02-25-2010, 08:38 PM
Moreover, the cup you are given is very apt to be paper, unless you are at a sit-down restaurant, and IMO the subtle flavors of good tea don't stand up well to that.

:eek:

You drink tea from paper cups? That's positively barbaric. And here I thought a coffee shop was dodgy if they served it in a stainless steel teapot.

Chronos
02-25-2010, 09:31 PM
You can order tea just about anywhere in the U.S., but what you'll get is a cup, full of hot water and a teabag on the side.What's more, the teabag will be Lipton's at best, in most places. Which makes worrying about the "subtle flavors" kind of moot. And if you're really unlucky, you'll get something like United Food Services, which I'm convinced is made up not only of sweepings, but of oak leaf sweepings.

mhendo
02-25-2010, 09:42 PM
What's more, the teabag will be Lipton's at best, in most places. Which makes worrying about the "subtle flavors" kind of moot. And if you're really unlucky, you'll get something like United Food Services, which I'm convinced is made up not only of sweepings, but of oak leaf sweepings.
While i love a cup of high quality tea, i can live with Liptons. But the practice of placing a tea-bag alongside a cup of (often merely luke-warm) water is an abomination.

As for drinking tea from paper cups: it's less that ideal, but sometimes i want a cup of tea to go, and the china cup just won't stay on the saucer while i'm driving.

Quartz
02-26-2010, 03:14 AM
I tried that and it didn't make any more sense. I know what the words mean, but it doesn't make sense (to me) to call tea "rich".

Riche doesn't always mean rich.

TruCelt
02-26-2010, 09:56 AM
While i love a cup of high quality tea, i can live with Liptons. But the practice of placing a tea-bag alongside a cup of (often merely luke-warm) water is an abomination.

As for drinking tea from paper cups: it's less that ideal, but sometimes i want a cup of tea to go, and the china cup just won't stay on the saucer while i'm driving.


No matter what the quality of the tea was at the time it was purchased by the restaurant, be assured that it's been sitting on a shelf in the back of the pantry since the place opened. Never order tea in a US restaurant that has been open more than two years.

LOL!

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
02-26-2010, 12:37 PM
:eek:

You drink tea from paper cups? That's positively barbaric. And here I thought a coffee shop was dodgy if they served it in a stainless steel teapot.Well I don't; that's why we only drink hot tea at home.

Mk VII
02-26-2010, 02:19 PM
'High tea' as a phrase is very old-fashioned. I don't think I've heard anyone refer to it since one occasion in the 1970s and even then I'd never heard of it before.

Elendil's Heir
02-26-2010, 02:30 PM
As an aside, my work schedule has caused me to start eating four meals a day, which I call breakfast, lunch, supper (around 4:30) and dinner (8:00 or 9:00). I'm American, though, so the only tea I have is with breakfast.

What, no second breakfast? Horrors!

Polycarp
02-26-2010, 02:54 PM
Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party, the interesting thing is that I grew up on a farm (in northwest Ohio) and learned to say "breakfast - dinner - supper" for the three meals. From college on, though, I heard other people saying "breakfast - lunch - dinner" for the three meals and eventually changed over to saying that.

What I was told as a young child when I questioned what "dinner" meant in such contexts, was that dinner was the main meal of the day, the one on which the person(s) cooking would devote the most effort. It could be in early afternoon, as in "The parson is coming after church for Sunday dinner" or in the evening. An evening dinner was preceded at noon by "lunch", which if a full cooked meal was "luncheon"; an early dinner was followed by an evening "supper". Others' usage may vary, of course, but that's Upstate New York 1950s usage.

runcible spoon
02-26-2010, 03:34 PM
What, no second breakfast? Horrors!

Only on weekends. I do sometimes sneak in a muffin for elevenses, though.

Chronos
02-26-2010, 03:47 PM
I've always understood "dinner" to mean the main meal of the day regardless of time, as well. Most of the regional variation I've seen has just been in which meal the main meal is, not what that meal is called. That is, in the places (mostly rural) where the noon meal is usually the biggest, they refer to breakfast-dinner-supper, and in the places where the evening meal is biggest, it's breakfast-lunch-dinner.

Peter Morris
02-26-2010, 04:29 PM
I've read the book and I'm sure the "My Tea Is Rich" name was explained as a pun on "My Tailor Is Rich", which is said to be a stock phrase in English textbooks at French schools.

There's a bit in one of the Asterix books, where Asterix asks his English cousin how much his tweed suit cost. The reply was "My taylor is rich." I always thought that was a strange line but now I finally understand it.

Peter Morris
02-26-2010, 04:55 PM
It's more a regional thing now than a class one. In Northern England and parts of Scotland "tea" is the evening meal and "dinner" is what you eat at midday. In the rest of the country the two meals are called "dinner" and "lunch". Nobody calls it "high tea", just "tea".

Actually, plenty of people do. I'm one.

So is Terry Pratchett (http://www.lspace.org/books/apf/wyrd-sisters.html)

- [p. 25/25] "'How many times have you thrown a magic ring into the deepest depths of the ocean and then, when you get home and have a nice bit of turbot for your tea, there it is?'"

Nanny's ring story is a well-known folk tale that goes back as least as far as Herodotus, but has also been used by e.g. Tolkien and Jack Vance.

More interesting is that at least one non-Brit over on alt.fan.pratchett had some trouble making sense of the implied connection between the concepts of 'turbot' and 'tea'. What he did not realise was that 'tea' is the term the British tend to use for any meal taken between 4.30 and 7 pm, which may therefore include a nice, juicy turbot.

Colophon
02-27-2010, 05:09 AM
Actually, plenty of people do. I'm one.

So is Terry Pratchett (http://www.lspace.org/books/apf/wyrd-sisters.html)

But that quote calls it "tea", not "high tea", which is exactly what C R's S P said.

I grew up (and still live) in Hampshire, southern England, and we always called our evening meal "tea". You'd be out playing football in the street and your mum would call you in for tea.

For some reason I call it dinner now, though. I think it's the influence of what everyone else called it when I moved away to university and lived in London for a time.

Peter Morris
02-27-2010, 05:17 AM
But that quote calls it "tea", not "high tea", which is exactly what C R's S P said.

D'oh. Posting while tired, I misread what C R's S P said as Nobody calls "high tea", just "tea". I missed the "it."

Wendell Wagner
02-27-2010, 09:17 AM
Although I grew up saying "breakfast-dinner-supper," dinner was not the main meal. Supper was. I lived on a farm, but that wasn't our main income. My grandfather could make a living off our farm. My father couldn't. My father worked at a factory from early morning to mid-afternoon. Sometimes he would then do work on our farm late in the afternoon. Sometimes he work at it on the weekends. Sometimes he would work on it on vacations from the factory. In any case, when I grew up, supper was the main meal. I don't know, but it's possible that when my father was growing up, dinner (i.e., at noontime) was the main meal.

SanVito
02-27-2010, 10:44 AM
I interchangeably refer to my evening meal as dinner or tea, and often in the same sentence. I think it comes from the culture clash of having working class parents and going to a 'posh' private school. Or maybe it's being brought up in Birmingham but living in London.

Either way, I'd never call it supper, because that would make me sound like a nob.