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Of all the English traditions, afternoon tea is one of my favourites; I don’t drink tea, don’t like tea, don’t think I ever will, but there is something resplendent about afternoon tea that I find refreshing. Its the coming together, friends, family, chatting over a brew, perfectly cut, crust free rectangle sandwiches, scones, oh the scones, and decadent dessert, complete with fine bone china tea set. Depending on the occasion and company I’d opt for champagne or lemonade.
My friend was getting married and she wanted to do something different from the bog standard boozy hen night, so I booked us a table for afternoon tea at what has now become my favourite shop in London, Fortnum & Mason. Walking through the oak doors is like walking back in time, into the old world of glamour and prestige, I love it. For the time that you’re in there, you are lost in this perfect world of your dreams, whizzing through the ground floor for sweet and biscuits, enamoured by the amount of tea on sale, A LOT. Hoping on the little rickety lift, which I am convinced has been there since 1707, up to the tea salon. You are greeted by a concierge with the most charming of smiles, (there must be a smile school for that) upon getting out, who, after confirming your reservation, walks you through the Tiffany- esque salon to your table. A pianist in tails serenades on the grand piano, the lobby, with a tune you don’t quite know but are enchanted by in this perfect world. Its perfect, its perfect, its so, so perfect.
Once you are settled in your table, a waiter comes over, talks you through the different types of tea, leaf grades, strength, origin, taste, etc. taking care to cover every detail without boring you senseless. You are enveloped in the melody all around you. The waiters and waitresses are attentive without being pushy, once they serve you your tea, they know when to replenish, when to approach, and are happy to cater to your every whim, or will. My friend had the Wedding Breakfast Tea, a brew created to celebrate the wedding of William and Catherine- large leaf TGFOP Assam and Eastern Kenyan (the country chosen for the Royal Proposal) orange pekoe, combine to create a rich refreshing brew. She attests to its delightful taste and aroma; three cups so that is saying something. The sandwiches and cakes fresh to taste, but what really does it for me during afternoon tea is the scone. If you get the scone wrong then everything else is a fail, regardless. The scones were warm, fresh out of the oven, served with the most delicious devon cream and mini pots of jam.
Its the holiday season, treat your mom or sister or best friend to a divine afternoon out because why not.
Go here for details of Afternoon Tea at the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon.