For most of the United States, the morning or afternoon break is not often referred to as tea as the beverage has not traditionally been a widespread choice with Americans. The term coffee break is used instead to denote a morning or afternoon break from work, or social gathering for a snack and short downtime, where hot and cold beverages and cakes, breads, and pastries are sometimes consumed.
The term “high tea” is also used in the United States to refer to afternoon tea or the “tea party,” a very formal, ritualised gathering in which tea, thin sandwiches and little cakes are served on the best china. This usage is an analogical construction, the term “high” being associated with social formality (rather than a “high,” or main, table).
This afternoon tea is increasingly served in high-end American hotels, and at a rising number of big-city teahouses, where it is sometimes described as “afternoon tea.” The term “tea party” is still occasionally used in the U.S., either for a special occasion or in honor of a visiting celebrity or guest.
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