Peter Greenberg's Aug. 17 article on the resurgence of afternoon tea was informative of a new social pattern, but authenticated a common American misconception about a simple occasion called tea. High tea may sound better to someone who, quite properly, wants the best, but its only connection with tea, apart from the beverage, is that it occurs at about the same time of day, and is seldom followed by anything very substantial. It is what we would call a light supper and, in Great Britain at least, may be not that light.
You may be driving in the countryside and run into a little town which has a tea shop. You feel like (having) a cup of tea and perhaps some cakes, scones and so on. You will be served those cheerfully. But if you go in and announce that you want high tea you will be told with regret, politeness and much uneasiness that they don't provide such. With good tempers on both sides you'll probably wind up with what you wanted in the first place, but it won't be high tea.
DENNIS WHALEThousand Oaks