Afternoon tea is always a deliciously indulgent, yet frightfully formal affair. This spring, however, some of London’s finest purveyors of the quintessentially English tradition have gotten their pâtissiers to flex their pastry-making pecs and put a quirky spin on their afternoon teas with new, imaginative menus. From the W London’s punk-inspired Anarch-Tea, to the London Edition’s Scandal Water, here’s our round-up of the 5 best London afternoon teas for spring 2016. One lump or two?
1) The Savoy
The good folk at The Savoy know what they’re doing when it comes to tea—and so they should. They’ve been serving afternoon teas in their grand atrium for 125 years, after all. Their afternoon tea offers classic favourites, including loose leaf teas served with finger sandwiches, and homemade scones on tiered cake stands, but it’s their delicate and imaginative pastries that really stand out, like their Macaron Interpretation, made of a vanilla custard and fresh strawberries, with an almond macaron, or the Savoy Eclair, a twist on the classic with a mango-passion fruit creme, and a chocolate ganache.
The Savoy’s afternoon tea is served in their Thames Foyer, and starts at £50 per head.
2) The Kensington Hotel
The Kensington Hotel is celebrating the launch of their new afternoon tea by offering up complimentary tickets to the V&A’s Botticelli exhibition for an experience that’s as cultured as it is classy. Alongside sandwiches and scones, they’re offering up savoury pastries including a smoked salmon gougère with horseradish crème fraîche, and wild mushroom and leek tarts. On the sweeter side of things, there’s carrot and walnut cake, vanilla and raspberry macarons, and a dark chocolate and cherry panna cotta served with sea salt caramel. For those of us looking for a lighter treat, there is a gluten-free option on offer which sounds every bit as tantalising as their classic menu—how do gluten free flatbreads with red pepper hummus and feta sound?
The Kensington’s Afternoon Tea is priced at £35.00 per person, or £45.00 per person with a glass of Champagne. Afternoon Tea is served from 12noon to 6pm daily. There are a limited number of tickets for Botticelli Reimagined at the V&A, allocated on a first-come first-served basis.
3) Scandal Water at the London Edition
The brains behind London Edition want to take the formality out of afternoon tea. In the 19th century, the hours between lunch and dinner were the perfect time to revive the spirits with a cup of afternoon tea and engage in the real focus of the afternoon—a solid couple of hours of salacious gossip, that led tea to be dubbed ‘scandal water’. The Victorians took tea pretty seriously—it wasn’t just something to wash down cake with. London Edition is living up to this legacy by designing a flight of special teas to pair with their food—think homemade iced gems, or miso-cured salmon with caviar with Japanese sencha or silver tip jasmine. For an even more scandalous time, the bar team at the London Edition have created a punch from each of their teas.
Scandal Water is available every Friday and Saturday with seatings between 3PM and 4PM at £35 for the choice of three pairings.
4) Anarch-Tea at W London
Celebrate 40 years of punk at the most rebellious afternoon tea in town. Part of the Punk London season that highlights the city’s punk legacy, the Anarch-Tea takes essentially British flavours and outrageous punk design, mixes them together, and serves them on a platter made out of records. Each dish references a classic punk anthem—try a colourful take on a classic Battenberg with the God Save the Queen, or relive Vivienne Westwood’s shocking take on bondage gear with Going Round in Circles, a silver-studded swiss roll. Show off your Lust for Life with a punchy cocktail that blends Cachaça with zesty limes, cane sugar and passion fruit.
Anarch-Tea will be served daily in the W Library from 2pm-5pm, launching on 28 April, at a price of £30.
5) The Arch London
This round-up ends with something far less shocking, but no less delicious. Enjoy royal treatment this summer at The Arch London, as you’re treated to a meal fit for a queen. Enjoy classic British savoury delights including delicate finger sandwiches of chicken liver parfait with spiced fig chutney, and rare roast beef. The sweet side of things takes its cue from Wimbledon with a classic strawberry tart, as well other quintessentially British delights such as Victoria sponge and Eton Mess.
Royal Afternoon Tea, priced at £25 per person or £38 with a glass of Tattinger Brut Reserve, will be available from 1 May until 31 July 2016 throughout this summer’s Royal events