Guest Feature: Demystifying the Different Types of Teatime With Spencer’s Jolly Posh


Elevenses, a cheeky cuppa, high tea, cream tea, proper tea, builder’s tea, afternoon tea… With so many terms attached to the act of drinking tea, it can get confusing for an Anglophile to navigate! Here’s how to enjoy your tea like the British and Irish, no matter what time of day:

Builder’s tea:  This is a colloquial term for a cup of tea, brewed strongly, served in a mug, and milky with sugar. It’s one of my favorite ways to drink tea! Jolly Posh even carries a brand of English tea called “Make Mine A Builder’s!” Brilliant.

Elevenses: A midmorning snack, usually tea with a slice of cake.  As the name belies, it is often served on or around 11AM.

Afternoon tea: Afternoon tea is a wide category that can take on many forms.  Most commonly it’s a snack served between 4-6pm, with plenty of tea, sometimes sandwiches, and usually a pastry or at least some biscuits!  Afternoon tea can range from the humble biscuit alongside a cuppa, to an elaborate affair with fancy silver and china.

Cream tea: A type of afternoon tea that consists of tea, scones, clotted cream and jam.  Clotted cream is thick and delicious and essential to a proper cream tea.  We like this brand; straight from Devon.

Jolly Posh’s Proper Afternoon Tea: Can we be a bit biased and say that Jolly Posh’s Proper Afternoon Tea is our favourite? Cozy and friendly without being stuffy, a Jolly Posh Proper Afternoon Tea consists of clotted cream, jam, delicious finger sandwiches, gorgeous hot raisin scones, French pastries, and of course all the tea you can drink! We like to think it’s a real bit of British and Irish culture, tucked away in the middle of Chicago.  Come by our new location starting June 3 for an elevenses or a proper tea.  We can guarantee you’ll be well chuffed!

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  1. avatarJanine Seaver says

    Nobody serves French pastries at afternoon tea, except perhaps the French. There are plenty of delicious English cakes, tarts, breads and biscuits, either home-made or bought at the local bakery. Also elevenses is usually coffee.

  2. avatarMinerva says

    Afternoon Tea must never, NEVER be served beyond 5 o’clock…………by 5.30 one is edging perilously close to ‘Evening’.
    The optimum time for serving Afternoon Tea is from 3 – 5 o’clock, with the earliest Dinner starting at 7pm, one wouldn’t want to indulge too late & risk offending the hostess with a poor effort at her table.

  3. avatarSylvia Skinner says

    You didn’t describe High tea. So many Americans think it means an elaborate occasion, when to my understanding, high tea is just an early evening meal that many people have instead of dinner, or supper. I’ve heard my friends in Cheshire ask, What’s for tea? Am I correct, or is it Tea With the Queen?

  4. avatarLOU says

    What gets me is the American pronunciation of “scone” – the proper (English) way to say scone rhymes with “gone”, not “phone”.

    Another good topic would be the differences between “supper” and “dinner”.

    • avatarSylvia Skinner says

      Thanks, I’ve never been sure exactly how to pronounce it, I knew like ‘phone’ wasn’t correct. So it’s more like ‘skawn’?

    • avatarAnon says

      I find the two pronunciations useful.
      “Scone” (as in rhymes with “own”) would be those rock-hard things you get in American coffee shops.
      “Scone” (as in rhymes with “on”) would be what you’d have with your cream tea (which, oddly enough, I’m in the middle of consuming).

  5. avatarSylvia Skinner says

    I think the formal definition would be that dinner is the main meal of the day, usually evening,or a special meal with guests, possibly.. Supper is a later, lighter meal, such as supper after the theater. In actual usage, it depends a lot on who is speaking. I grew up in the South, dinner was always midday, and was the biggest meal, supper was evening, and usually lighter. Regional terms are not as fixed as they used to be, so it’s usually lunch and dinner now, except for older people like me. I do usually say lunch, but it’s still supper. So, the difference would be, I guess, whatever you think it is !

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