Tea isn’t just a drink here, it’s a meal and a marker of class. (You’ll find lots of those if you know how to look.) If you’re working class, tea is the evening meal and dinner is lunch. If you’re upper class, the evening meal is supper. Are you still with me? You won’t be for long, because A. adds, “But we all say supper now.”
Sorry, you’re on your own there.
And in case this isn’t confusing enough, I’ve read that all this turns into its opposite in other parts of the country, so you have to know where someone’s from to know what they’re eating. Or drinking. Or talking about.
Wild thing was on the phone with H. and invited her to stop by for tea after something they were doing together. H. told us later that she hung up the phone and thought, I wonder what I just got invited for? Because Wild Thing and I don’t play by the same rules as anyone else does, so who knows what we mean when we say “tea”?
We sure as hell don’t.
Everyone seems to agree that afternoon tea (as opposed to just plain old tea) is afternoon tea—you know: a cup of tea and a little something—but if you want that little something in the morning it’s either morning coffee or elevensies. Morning tea? Sorry, there is no such thing. It’s morning coffee. And if you don’t drink coffee? No problem. You can get tea. But it’s still not called tea.