Ask anyone where the home of afternoon tea is, and nine times out of ten, they’ll say it’s the UK. They’d be right, it was Anna, the wife of the Duke of Bedford, who first introduced it to the country, and since then, it has become a British institution. In this guide, we’re taking a look at some of the best places to enjoy this tasty British tradition.
National Afternoon Tea Week is rapidly approaching (August 9th-15th), and many will be wondering where to head to for the best afternoon teas. The good news is we’re doing the research for you, and in this guide, we’ll be showcasing everything from tea at the Langham to sipping on Mirabeau rosé at The Fish in the Cotswolds or how you can order one to enjoy in the comfort of your own home.
There’s something to suit all tastes in this guide. It doesn’t matter if you’re a cream before jam or jam before the cream person; you’ll find something to treat your palate to in the guide below.
A historic afternoon tea at the Langham
As mentioned above, it was Lady Anna Bedford, who was one of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting, that came up with the idea of afternoon tea, and before long, it was a huge hit with members of the high society. Coming up with the idea isn’t enough to turn something into a British institution. People also need somewhere to go to experience it, and it was the Langham who started the ball rolling by being the first hotel to have afternoon tea on its menu when it opened in 1865.
Why not embrace British history with an afternoon tea in the Langham’s Palm Court for this year’s Afternoon Tea Week? Not only will you enjoy a delicious treat, but you’ll also get the opportunity to enjoy the splendour of one of the world’s most renowned luxury hotels.
Tapping into the archives of Britain’s favourite biscuits and baked tarts, Chef Michel Roux Jr (above) and Executive Pastry Chef Andrew Gravet have reimagined the classics, which are designed to pair with a selection of JING teas. Although probably frowned upon in days gone by, things are a little less formal today, so you could always try giving them a dunk or two.
The new menu offers a modern yet luxurious spin on afternoon tea, and if you fancy something a little stronger than the selection of teas, you have the option of some English sparkling wine from Gusbourne.
Afternoon Tea at The Langham starts from £165 per person, and you can book from the link here.
Rick Stein’s Cornish Cream Tea Box – Delivered directly to your home from Cornwall with love
For those after a proper Cornish cream tea this Afternoon Tea Week, look no further than Rick Stein’s signature box – made in Padstow and delivered nationwide with love. The £35 Rick Stein Afternoon Tea Box is brimming with favourite teatime treats and ideal for sharing with both savoury and sweet-toothed friends and family. The bountiful cakes and bakes are neatly and carefully boxed and served alongside tea by Royal Warrant holders, Twinings.
Crafted by dessert maker extraordinaire and Head Pastry Chef at Rick Stein’s 1975 The Seafood Restaurant, Stuart Pate, each delicacy is made with quality ingredients from producers who have served the Rick Stein restaurants for years. Obviously, the set contains fruit-filled scones, which can be topped with Cornish clotted cream and jam. In addition to this, there are cakes including classic lemon drizzle, double chocolate cake and – Stuart’s favourite – Dundee fruit cake.
On the savoury side, there’s flaky cheese Palmiers, individual quiche Lorraine, and four chunky sausage rolls: classic or spiked with tangy tomato chutney. To make your spread look even more celebratory, add on a half-bottle or Rick Stein’s house Champagne for only £15.
The price is £35 (excl. delivery). Delivery is every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. You can order here.
Queen of Hearts at Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences
Visitors can enjoy a delicious and stunning Queen of Hearts afternoon tea this afternoon tea week at ‘Kona’ restaurant. This tea can be enjoyed stand-alone at Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences or as part of their ‘Spa in the City‘ package. Those looking for a full London day out can pair this perfectly with the ‘Curious and Curiouser’ Alice and Wonderland exhibition at the V&A.
Afternoon Tea at the Stafford
Afternoon tea at the Stafford is a decadent affair and takes you on a journey through the secluded and historic streets of St James’s. It comprises traditional finger sandwiches along with some moreish homemade sweet and savoury scones. In addition to this, some pastries and dainty cakes have been inspired by some of the areas oldest boutiques, such as Henry Poole & Co, James J. Fox, Floris, Foster & Son, and the world’s foremost hatmakers, Lock & Co.
Highlights on the menu include honey-roast Wiltshire ham and mustard, H Forman & Son smoked salmon, plain and raisin, whipped clotted cream, strawberry jam, Henry Poole & Co shortbread ‘Tuxedo’ and James. J. Fox chocolate cigar chocolate and hazelnut mousse.
No afternoon tea would be complete without a drink or a tipple, and the good news is you can choose from a fine range from Camellia’s Tea House, or if you want to add some extra fizz to the occasion, why not treat yourself to a chilled glass of champagne or wine from the extensive list.
Prices range from £15 to £58, and you can book a table on the link here.
Afternoon Tea at South Lodge in Sussex
Situated in the heart of the West Sussex countryside, South Lodge (above) offers a traditional and comforting afternoon tea experience overlooking the South Downs, and this delightful treat is available year-round.
In the spring, guests can sit in one of the lounges to enjoy the spring sunshine, while in summer, afternoon tea is served al fresco under the shaded outdoor terrace so as to make the most out of the warm weather.
In the autumn and winter, guests can snuggle up in The Drawing Room in one of the many inviting sofas to enjoy the changing colours of the surrounding foliage. Tea is served with an assortment of delicate finger sandwiches and savoury treats and, of course, scones with clotted cream, strawberry jam, orange marmalade, and lemon curd. There are also various teas to suit all guests taste, ranging from herbal and fruity to green teas and premium black tea.
The hotel also has two signature blends; Lady Godman Grey and South Lodge Blend. Lady Godman Grey is a black tea blend handmade exclusively for South Lodge with oil of bergamot, lavender and rose petals. South Lodge Blend is the perfect alternative to an English Breakfast and has a secret blend of unique tea leaves with rich flavours and floral undertones.
HOW: Rooms at South Lodge start from £285 a night based on B&B. Afternoon tea starts from £35 per person and more information can be found here.
Afternoon Tea at one of London’s ultimate addresses – The Biltmore Hotel
For a very special afternoon tea treat, why not head to The Biltmore Mayfair on Grosvenor Square for a mouthwatering experience overseen by Chef Jason Atherton, who also happens to be Michelin-starred.
The Biltmore Mayfair’s offering centres around fresh heritage foods from around the UK. It is a luxurious experience in the apt titled Tea Lounge and lets you indulge in expertly prepared savouries, scones and sweet delicacies, all of which are detailed on a beautiful map showing the origin of the components. Alongside the sweet and savouries, guests can enjoy a cup of freshly brewed tea from the tea trolley of a glass of Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Champagne.
The Biltmore Mayfair has stunning views across the Grosvenor Square gardens, and if you decide that one afternoon isn’t enough, it also boasts superb contemporary accommodation too! In a nutshell, it’s one of London’s ultimate addresses. Click here for more information.
Afternoon Tea at Grantley Hall
Grantley Hall – the family-owned, 17th-century manor house nestled in the Yorkshire Dales – takes the tradition of afternoon tea seriously indeed. It’s the finest in North Yorkshire, showcasing the highest quality produce that the region has to offer. Guests can enjoy the decadent delights in the sophisticated ambience and rich surroundings of the Main Hall.
An elevated take on the classic afternoon tea, diners can enjoy a selection of savoury delights, including Wensleydale Egg & Shallot Mayonnaise, Watercress, served on whole-grain bread, and Oak Smoked Salmon & Chive Cream Cheese, Caperberry, served in a brioche roll.
Sweet treats come in the form of Peach Melba ‘Rocher’- Yellow peach compote, vanilla crémeux, crunchy raspberry coating and Valrhona Blonde Chocolate & Pistachio – Pistachio sponge, apricot confit, caramel mousse.
The freshly baked Scones are served with Devon clotted cream & homemade Yorkshire strawberry & raspberry jam. An extensive tea selection includes the classics and special teas such as Gopaldhara 1st Flush Darjeeling White, Kenilworth Ceylon, and Pinhead Gunpowder.
Grantley Hall’s Signature Afternoon Tea is £45 per person, and their Sparkling Afternoon Tea is £59.50 per person. You can book to enjoy the experience here.
Maison Mirabeau ‘Tipsy Tea’ at the Fish Hotel in the Cotswolds
Award-winning rosé specialist Maison Mirabeau has partnered with luxury Cotswold hotel, The Fish, to launch the Mirabeau Tipsy Tea.
This limited-edition afternoon tea is set in the Lodge Restaurant and introduces your palate to a taste of the French Riviera. It features four expertly made cocktails that have been paired with a series of savoury and sweet treats, which although are a tad naughty, they’re at the same time delicious, so there’s your excuse! It’s a beautiful place to enjoy the bright summer days and will be an ideal excuse to celebrate the re-opening of the hotel.
The Mirabeau Tipsy Tea is available to enjoy for £32.50 per person and can be booked now through The Fish website.