The first time I visited London I was 17, but I had already been in love with it since the age of 11, when Princess Diana was married, which had catapulted me into a dream dimension (but unfortunately, as we all know, it was anything but) and led me to intensely desire to visit the British capital.
On that occasion I was on a study holiday with a language school, which had organised various activities to help us discover the English way of life, including afernoon tea.
Whether you visit London for the first time or for the hundredth time, you cannot leave without participating in the afternoon tea ritual.
Whether you visit London for the first time or for the hundredth time, you cannot leave without participating in the afternoon tea ritual. Now, if for you the concept of tea simply recalls that of a cup full of steaming amber liquid, at most accompanied by a few biscuits, get ready to discover a new world.
Yes, because afternoon tea in London does not simply mean drinking tea, but it is a real ritual accompanied by whole trays of sweet and savoury food, many of which will be unusual for Italian palates. And, surprise, often instead of tea in London, drinks of various alcoholic strengths are served, not least champagne. Follow me to discover the most original afternoon teas in London!
Let’s start with a very special place that I visited with my daughter and some friends in October 2017: I have already mentioned it in another article, but now I will go into more detail:
Lady Dinah’s cat emporium
Do you love cats? Do you love tea in London? This is the place for you! Lady Dinah’s cat emporium is located in the heart of Shoreditch, a district of London that has become very trendy and teems with a wide range of different kinds of places. You have to book well in advance on their website, but the wait will be rewarded by a very pleasant afternoon in the company of the hotel’s friendly guests, as well as various delicacies.
For 25 pounds, in fact, you will get mini baguettes and soft stuffed sandwiches, canapés, scones (they look like sandwiches, but they are neither sweet nor salty and have a decidedly buttery texture) accompanied by different types of jams and thick cream, plus slices of cake, pastries and even macaroons.
To drink you can order the classic tea (which comes in different blends), but also coffee and soft drinks. Obviously everyone is free to choose what they prefer, but I beg you: order the tea, not a coke! Otherwise you will not be able to fully enjoy the ritual.
Cats are not intrusive: you can caress and play with them but don’t bother them while they are sleeping or if they don’t want to interact. Also for this reason the entrance is forbidden to children under twelve years of age, so if you have children organize yourself.
If you are interested in something equally unusual, but want to treat yourself to a real luxury, try the afternoon tea inspired by
Charlie and the chocolate factory
Chocolate lovers will love it! Served in the beautiful lobby bar of the One Aldwich hotel, the menu offers homemade candyfloss, caramel milk and traditional dishes. You can choose from classic sandwiches, savoury pies, quiches and the inevitable scones, but there are also many desserts: in addition to those already mentioned you will find chocolate in all the sauces, cheesecakes and pastries.
If you want you can have their Charlie cocktail served: whisky, Merlet Sœurs Cerises Cherry, grapefruit and chocolate pieces with champagne. Here the price goes up a bit, as expected: £45. Also in this case you can book through the website.
What if you want to admire London while enjoying tea and pastries? Choose the
B Bakery Gin Bus
The classic red double-decker bus, which belongs to Brigit’s Bakery, will take you on a splendid tour of the capital with a selection of your choice: Gin afternoon tea, also with typical sweet and savoury snacks, but with the characteristic of being watered by abundant doses of Hayman’s, or other themed teas: Mother’s day, Pink Ribbon, St. Patrick’s, Easter, Halloween and Christmas. All with a choice of tea or spirits.
Also available are afternoon teas for special diets: vegan, intolerances, etc.. Cost from £45 each, reservations on their website.
A pleasant variation is represented by the
Afternoon tea cruises
In other words, an afternoon tea with all the crispies enjoyed while travelling by boat on the Thames! There are several organisations offering it, but one of the best is without doubt the Bateaux London Cruises, which has elegant boats with all the comforts, including, hear hear, a pianist who plays live during mini-cruises!
Let’s have a look at the menu: sandwich with smoked salmon and cream cheese, egg and cress, cucumber and mint yoghurt, roast beef and rocket. Sweets: donuts, brownies, macarons, lemon tart, scones, sultana bread, all accompanied by the classic thick cream and jams. To drink they offer various blends of tea, coffee and the inevitable spirits. Booking on the site, the cost varies from £36 to £42 each.
Finally, an even more daring proposal: a tea taken while admiring London from above:
Afternoon tea at the Aqua Shard
It is impossible not to know the Shard, the splendid multi-point skyscraper designed by Renzo Piano. One of the restaurants inside, the Aqua, offers the best view ever. It is located on the thirty-first floor and its large windows offer a breathtaking view. Imagine what it means to enjoy tea and various delicacies from such a height! Chef Anthony Garlando has given a modern touch to British tradition, with an afternoon tea served in the tea wing and atrium of the restaurant.
Sandwich choices include lobster with lobster mayonnaise on black bread and aged smoked salmon with dill cream and sour cream, while other savoury options include goat cheese and spinach mini quiche and Yorkshire chutney. Freshly baked scones are flavoured with vanilla and white chocolate chips and served with homemade jam, toffee and cream from Cornwall. Of course, there is no shortage of bubbles, which are very well represented by Veuve Clicquot champagne. Prices vary from 45 to 69 euros depending on the choice and reservations can be made directly on the restaurant’s website.
Afternoon tea is the quintessence of the British spirit and although it’s not particularly cheap, it’s worth indulging in a little luxury in wonderful London!