Getting Set for Afternoon Tea Week:
We Brits are well-known for our love of a nice cup of tea; whilst the high streets have filled with coffee shops in recent years (remember how we used to laugh a Niles in the TV series Frasier about his precise ordering?), there has been rather a resurgence of interest in the tradition of Afternoon Tea. Not to be mistaken with a High Tea which is more substantial offering, and with a very different history.
Afternoon tea become fashionable for upper class ladies in the 19th century in order to fill the long gap between lunch and dinner, and is usually served around 4 p.m. A High tea was eaten by workers after a hard day of labour, so was likely to be hot and filling and be accompanied by a pot of strong tea to perk up the worker. It may have got its name from the fact that it would have been served at the table whilst seated on dining chairs, whilst afternoon tea was served on low parlour chairs or in the garden.
Afternoon tea has now become something of a treat, with many places offering champagne as well as tea. It takes us back to a bygone age where ladies had time on their hands to sip tea and chat with friends and family.
We were invited to St. Ermin’s hotel near St. James’ for the launch of Afternoon Tea Week to sample their version. A beautifully renovated hotel, we couldn’t help thinking how wonderful to be a bride on those stairs!
As you can see, it followed a classic format of savory bites, followed by freshly made still-warm scones with jam and cream, and a variety of cakes and sweet treats. It was served on the balcony, which was just perfect for a summer afternoon.
The one essential ingredient is a really good tea. We were fortunate to be treated to teas by Newby Teas, which were beautiful. My smoky Lapsang Souchong paired well with the smoked salmon sandwiches.
I’ve been a fan of English Provender for a while, but hadn’t tried their curds. I’m intrigued by the ginger curd and really looking forward to getting creative.
A whole week to celebrate this wonderful institution seems to me to be either the perfect excuse to go out and spoil yourself by having someone else make it and serve it, or to get busy with your baking and invite friends around to share news, sandwiches, scones and cake – and champagne if you want the extra touch of decadence!
These are some of the highlights of Afternoon Tea Week
- Step back in time with Ms Marmite Lover as she hosts a Historical Afternoon Tea at Dennis Severs House, an 18thcentury-inspired afternoon tea in the beautiful time capsule
- The Bakewell Baking Festival welcomes a whole host of top baking stars including Edd Kimber and Fabulous Baker Brother Tom Herbert to the Bakewell Showground
- L’atelier des Chefs offers a 10% discount on their Champagne Afternoon Tea cookery classes
- The Ritz London has created a new cake in honour of the week; the Milk Chocolate and Almond Afternoon Tea Cake will be available in the Palm Court as part of The Ritz Afternoon Tea
- Join the Conrad London St James for a Literary Afternoon Tea with Rosie Millard. Enjoy a Summer in the City-themed afternoon tea as Rosie discusses her new book The Square
- Floris Scents of Summer Afternoon Tea at The Intercontinental Park Lane. Executive Chef Ashley Wells and perfumers Floris will talk about how they collaborated to create an afternoon tea inspired by scent
- Renowned artisan chocolatier a.young fine chocolates launches the Afternoon Tea Week Collection, a specially curated selection of afternoon tea-themed chocolates
- Indulge in a Champagne Tasting at the Radisson Blu Edwardian The Berkshire, a four-star deluxe boutique hotel located in the very heart of London
- Premium tea brand Newby of London is hosting a 5-day Flash Sale, offering up to 30% discount on selected items, plus special competition prizes with Newby’s teaware partner Ali Miller
- Tea Tasting & Afternoon Tea at Harrods Georgian Restaurant
The dedicated Afternoon Tea Week site – afternoonteaweek.com – will provide a full directory of events and offers, making it easier than ever to find out what’s happening.
With many thanks to St Ermin’s Hotel for their hospitality and to Newby Teas and English Provender for making the tea so special.