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Afternoon Teas With A Twist

So, you’ve ticked off the “to do” list of things on your London trip. You’ve seen Big Ben, the Tower of London, taken a ride on the London Eye…You’ve tucked in to the infamous pub lunch, fish and chips, bangers and mash. And of course, the traditional “afternoon tea”.

Though afternoon tea is regarded a quintessentially British middle-of-the-day treat, it actually only became a hit mid 19th century. This tradition is not only about drinking afternoon tea. It has become a finer ritual involving a light meal mid to late afternoon.

It all began with Anna Russell, seventh Duchess of Bedford who is said to have felt peckish during her lengthy afternoons of playing her role as duchess. She asked her retainers to serve her a pot of tea with bread and cakes. It slowly became a habit she was so fond of, she later invited her friends to join in. She continued the social invitations during her trips to London. The idea became so fashionable, it was picked up by other fine ladies who then proceeded to expand the social event into a mid-day snack with a dash of chit-chat, an array of anecdotes and a side of gossip.

Today, many hotels offer a ‘high tea’ experience in various forms and at different prices. Very often, there is an interesting selection of teas along with a three-tier platter of savoury sandwiches, cakes and scones, generally served with jam and clotted cream.The afternoon tea phenomenon has considerably expanded and many venues now propose what is called ‘afternoon tea with a twist’. Be it fun themes, tea sommelier services, pastry chefs outdoing themselves, it has certainly become a popular affair.Here are some fun facts about afternoon tea you may not know about, and some surprising treats you might like to try.

TEA-OLOGY:

  • Author C.S Lewis (who wrote The Chronicles of Narnia) was a big tea drinker. He famously said: “You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.
  • Darjeeling tea is so popular and in demand it has been knighted the “champagne of teas”. As its name suggests, it can only be found in the Darjeeling region in India.
  • Aside from drinking, tea can be used for lots of other purposes including gardening, beauty treatments, house cleaning and medicine.
  • Earl Grey tea is named after British Prime Minister Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey.
  • The art of reading tea leaves is called Tasseography. It is a form of fortune-telling in which one interprets the meaning in a pattern of tea leaves after the cup has been drained.

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Glam Rock Afternoon Tea
For another utterly unconventional treat, discover K West’s Glam Rock Afternoon Tea menu and its funky vinyl setting! Travel back in time to the 70s and 80s for yummy Rock ‘N’ Savoury Rolls which include Ham & Mustard Mini Clubs on Gingerbread, classic Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Sandwiches, and Charred Halloumi with Cured Tomato & Avocado Rainbow Sliders. Indulge in the Ohhhh Sweet Child of Mine selection of Marshmallow Chocolate & Nut Sprinkles Cones, Mini Chocolate-Topped Donuts, Sugar Confetti Mini Éclairs, Raspberry Chocolate Lollipops and Rainbow Macaroons. All to be satisfyingly accompanied by an almighty Tea Rex: a daring blend of black and green tea leaves, peony flowers and rose petals and a dash of peppercorn for a spicy twist.
K West Hotel & Spa
Richmond Way
London
W14 0AX
www.k-west.co.uk 

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Tea Total Afternoon Tea

For a tipsy twist on the traditional afternoon tea, W London’s mixologists take the cocktail experience to the next level by boldly pairing each cake with a crystallised version of one of their signature cocktails. With playful pairings such as an Apple & Avocado mousse spiked with Ristretto Martini or Carrot & Cardamom Cake matched with a zesty Lady Marmalade Mojito. Savouries include twists on the traditional tea-time sandwiches, including Egg with Watercress on Hazelnut & Apricot sourdough and Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese on Cranberry Bread.
W London
Leicester Square
10 Wardour Street
London
W1D 6QF
www.wlondon.co.uk

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Gravi-Tea
For an afternoon tea inspired by the solar system, head to Skylon on an edible journey through the galaxy. Immerse yourself in a Milky Way of sweet treats, including Jupiter cake, rocks of the universe and cosmos mini choux. Galaxy macaroons and galactic cupcakes add colour and vibrance to an interstellar performance. To bring you back down to earth, an elegant selection of sandwiches is served, including smoked salmon, avocado crème fraîche, cucumber and dill, grilled chicken Caesar, romaine lettuce and parmesan, and artichoke and egg mayonnaise with mustard cress.
Skylon
Royal Festival Hall
London
SE1 8XX
www.skylon-restaurant.co.uk

Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium – High Tea for Two

dinah_tea.jpgFor animal lovers (or more specifically cat lovers) this teatime treat is a meow of a time indeed. Enjoy a sweet selection of cupcakes, éclairs, tarts and macaroons (there are even some cute cat-shaped bikkies!) Savories include spinach and tomato muffins, red Leicester and chive scones, and Baguettini. Not to worry, the furry gang at Lady Dinah’s hasn’t forgotten a selection of warmed scones served with clotted cream, raspberry and strawberry jam to go along with their special drinks menu.
Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium East Ltd
152-154 Bethnal Green Road
Shoreditch
E2 6DG
www.ladydinahs.com

Mr. Fogg’s Tipsy Tea
mr_froggs.jpgStep into the world of the great adventurer Phileas Fogg. His elegant residence in Mayfair boasts a fascinating Victorian collection of items from across the globe. Sit back and enjoy a (cold but exquisite) teapot of the most intriguing concoction of Champagne and gin teas such as Ladies That Lapsang or The Drunken Duchess paired with a tasty selection of scrumptious sandwiches and a special pea, red pepper and roasted tomato Frittata. Sweets consist of floral Lemon Possets, Banoffee Pie and a scrumptious Pastel de Nata. With live entertainment from Mr. Fogg’s resident pianist, and an unexpected magical performance by a mysterious magician, get ready to be dazzled by an afternoon to remember.
Mr. Fogg’s Residence
15 Bruton Lane
Mayfair
London
W1J 6JD
www.mr-foggs.com/residence

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