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afternoon tea (countable and uncountable, plural afternoon teas)

  1. (Britain) A formal afternoon meal comprising light snacks, accompanied by tea.
    • 2007, Andrea Broomfield, Food and Cooking in Victorian England: A History[1], page 59:
      As with luncheon, afternoon tea was often a women's gathering for reasons that take us back to the reign of Charles II.
    • 2010, Darwin Porter, Danforth Prince, Frommer's England 2011: With Wales, page 165,
      Everyone should indulge in a formal afternoon tea at least once while in London. This relaxing, drawn-out, civilized affair consists of three courses, all elegantly served on fine china: dainty finger sandwiches (with the crusts cut off, of course); then fresh-baked scones served with jam and deliciously decadent clotted cream (the rich, thick cream is also known as Devonshire cream); and lastly, an array of bite-size sweets. All the while, an indulgent server keeps the pot of your choice fresh at hand.
    • 2010, Rick Steves, Rick Steves′ England 2011[2], page 179:
      At all the places listed below, it's perfectly acceptable to order one afternoon tea and one cream tea (at about £5) and split the afternoon tea goodies.
    • 2011, Darwin Porter, Frommer's Bahamas 2012[3], page 67:
      The British tradition of afternoon tea is still observed on the last Friday of each month, from January to August, at the hilltop mansion of the governor-general in Nassau.
  2. (Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong) A small meal or snack eaten between lunch and dinner (supper); a period of time set aside for this purpose, taken as a break from work or from a conference.
    • 1993 December, AUUGN, page 53,
      After afternoon tea we all combine again for a plenary session, followed by the UniForum NZ AGM.
    • 1995, David Marshall, Food Choice and the Consumer[4], page 270:
      In looking at meal structures, Douglas (1972) made a clear distinction between the afternoon tea which is a snack and the high tea which is classified as a light meal.

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