Afternoon teas with a twist

Loosen your belt for a whistle-stop tour of some of London’s newest and quirkiest afternoon teas.

The Tiger Who Came to Tea at The Savoy (pictured above)
If you’re visiting London with children in tow, this afternoon tea is a must-do. Launched last year to mark the 50th anniversary of the treasured children’s book of the same name, by the late Judith Kerr, the whimsical menu enchants kids and grown-ups alike. Little ones can dig into a feast of teatime treats, including sandwiches, tiger-striped scones and pastries that reference moments in the story, all of which are served up on chinaware inspired by the picture book.
www.thesavoylondon.com

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London Landmarks Afternoon Tea at Town House at The Kensington
Take a sugar-coated tour of the capital’s most iconic buildings with this new-for-2019 afternoon tea. Paying homage to London’s attractions, the tea is presented on a London Eye-inspired tea stand and is served alongside an illustrated map of London. Prepare to be seriously wowed by The Shard made of carrot cake, the ‘Gherkin’ crafted from dark and white chocolate ganache, a rhubarb mousse telephone box and a Big Ben lemon curd tart, as well as scones. The savoury selection features British classics such as steak and London Ale pie, Colston Bassett Stilton and broccoli quiche, crab cake and sandwiches. 
www.townhousekensington.com

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Prêt-à-Portea: The Dior Couture Collection at The Berkeley
Fashionistas will love this stylish afternoon tea, which sees legendary Dior designs creatively crafted into cakes. Inspired by the Victoria and Albert Museum’s exhibition Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, this afternoon tea transforms designer pieces into exquisite biscuits, bakes and fancies. The collection features a red velvet cake inspired by the Lady Dior handbag, while a bottle of Miss Dior eau de parfum is reimagined as a lychee and raspberry cake. Your tea includes a flavoursome collection of miniature savoury skewers, taster spoons, canapés and sandwiches, washed down with a choice of loose-leaf teas.
www.the-berkeley.co.uk

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Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at Sanderson London
Feel as though you’re hosting your own Mad Hatter’s tea party in London with this magical afternoon tea. You’ll thoroughly appreciate this trip down the rabbit hole, with clever touches including vintage-book menus and quirky delicacies, such as a King of Hearts croque-monsieur and a March Hare vanilla pocket watch macaron. Wash it all down with Alice’s exotic fruits ‘Drink Me’ potion and a glass of Champagne for good measure. For traditionalists, there are warm fluffy scones, clotted cream and fruit preserve, paired with Alice-inspired tea infusions. 
www.morganshotelgroup.com

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Afternoon tea aboard the Bustronome
Treat yourself to a sightseeing tour combined with a seasonal, French-inspired afternoon tea on the upper floor of a double-decker bus with Bustronome. Check out 16 landmarks through the bus’ glass roof and learn more about them while listening to an interactive guide, which is available in nine languages. Bon appétit!
www.bustronome.com

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Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium – High Tea for Two
For 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.
www.ladydinahs.com

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Mr. Fogg’s Tipsy Tea
Step 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.
www.mr-foggs.com/residence

 

Find more hidden gems with our guide to London’s hidden restaurant courtyards and secret dining terraces

 

Images courtesy of Town House at the Kensington; The Berkeley; Monsur Photography; Sanderson London; The Savoy

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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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