London has no shortage of afternoon tea offerings. It’s a city that seems to run on tea and cake.
When visiting London it’s an almost impossible task to decide where to partake in afternoon tea. If you’re going to splurge, you want a quintessentially English experience with exquisite food and an elegant setting.
Some of the famous hotels, such as The Ritz, might spring to mind. However, they tend to be booked out weeks in advance. If a visit to London has you fancying an afternoon tea in the true English tradition, I would thoroughly recommend stopping by at Fortnum and Mason who have been serving their afternoon tea since the roaring twenties.
FORTNUM & MASON
The impressive department store is located in Piccadilly, along a street boasting old-worldly institutions and high-end shopping. Fortnum and Mason is an iconic British brand that has been a purveyor of fine goods and tea from as early as 1707. The store is tastefully extravagant, it’s a place where wealthy locals shop in style and a known favourite of the royal family. The façade is a striking display of art deco glamour and pale green signage.
THE DIAMOND JUBILEE TEA SALON
The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon was opened by none other than her Majesty the Queen. Its location on the store’s 5th Floor is a peaceful retreat from the crowds around central London. As we entered the room the sound of a pianist tinkling away at the keys added another element to the grand affair. The polite and attentive staff lead us to our seats in the sumptuous tearoom with bright airy windows, crisp white tablecloths and settings of pale green fine china and polished silverware. The 12.15pm sitting was ideal as we almost had the teahouse to ourselves. The venue becomes a little busier into the afternoon.
Having sold tea for over 300 years, F&M has an extensive selection to choose from. I opted for the signature Royal Tea, a delicate blend that accompanied the food nicely. There are three varieties of afternoon tea; a High Tea (which is al la carte), the classic afternoon tea and the savoury afternoon tea.
You cannot go wrong with traditional afternoon tea as you are presented with a three-tiered stand brimming with tempting treats. There’s a delightful selection of traditional finger sandwiches with favourites such as the cucumber or smoked salmon with cream cheese.
The scones are served with generous lashings of preserves (choose the classic strawberry jam and apply liberally) and an unashamedly thick, clotted cream. Then brace yourself for a selection of exquisite patisseries so delicate you hardly dare to eat them. Standouts were the rose petal éclairs and subtle rosemary cream puffs.
Just as you think you couldn’t possibly devour any more, they offer a slice of cake of your choice from the enticing carriage. I couldn’t resist the typically English Victoria Sponge cake; a soft vanilla sponge filled with dollops of cream and fresh raspberries.
If you don’t have much of a sweet tooth or items like caviar or lobster take your fancy, then the savoury afternoon tea is optimal. The pastries are replaced with savoury canapés and the scones take on rich flavours such as cheddar.
F&M are incredibly generous with the servings so be prepared to indulge. We were asked several times if we wished to have more sandwiches, scones or even another piece of cake. Tea is seemingly bottomless as they provide fresh refills throughout the afternoon.
The Fortnum’s afternoon tea was executed with effortless class, elegant surroundings and impeccable service. Most importantly of all, the whole experience was quintessentially English.
The Afternoon Tea begins at £40 per person. For more information or to book an Afternoon Tea please visit Fortnum and Mason.
Explore the F&M Department Store
Make sure you leave time to wander around the gorgeous department store. The food emporium and the fragrance department are two of my favourite levels. It’s the perfect place to pick up a luxurious souvenir or something special for a loved one back home.
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