An invitation that indicates the tea will start anywhere between 3 and 5 o'clock will most assuredly be an afternoon low tea, cream tea, or a light tea.
A tea that starts at 5:30 or later, will be a traditional high tea.
Especially nowadays, you will even find tea rooms and Bed and Breakfasts in jolly old England offering 'high afternoon tea' in the middle of the afternoon, so, if you are still not sure, you can tactfully ask your hostess.
A Traditional High Tea Menu:
For your high tea menu, it will consist of several courses. Similar to any other more formal sit down dinners, it can consist of the following courses:
• Rolls/Bread (Different types can be served throughout the meal)
• And several nice hot pots of tea!
This meal can be served in a few different ways.
The most formal is 'Served', by a butler or other wait staff who bring out each course and offers it to each guest.
The next is 'Plated', which means each plate is prepared in the kitchen and then served to the guest. This also usually requires waiters, and it is only recommended if the guests were given an opportunity to choose what they wanted to eat ahead of time. (i.e. in the invitation)
The other choice is 'Family' style, where each course is brought out in bowls or on platters and placed on the table. Each dish is then passed one to another by the guests. This is the most common way and does not require extra help for the hostess, although asking your best friend who of course is in attendance to assist ahead of time will be of immense value to you.
Also of note, is that it is a dinner, therefore it would be appropriate to serve cocktails before dinner, wine with dinner, and sherry or a dessert wine after. This, of