My friend KC and I had a conversation (via email) last week about the meaning and use of the phrases High Tea and Afternoon Tea.
KC is a knowledgeable lady - at school we used to call her "The Oracle" - and she had these words of wisdom to clarify:
"FYI, High Tea isn't the right term at all! High Tea is what working class English families called dinner - typically served "high" (or early) in the day. The correct posh term is Afternoon Tea. That came from the nobility."
When I invite my girlfriends around it is for Afternoon Tea. If we go out to eat then here in Perth the meal is usually referred to on the menu as High Tea, as illustrated by the photo above.
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet..." W. Shakespeare
So for me, the phrase Afternoon Tea conjures up the image of a relaxed afternoon at home with my girlfriends, drinking tea and eating sweet things. The phrase High Tea makes me think of going out to eat a large selection of tasty treats, presented on tiers. Same outcome, just a different location.