Sometimes, you just have to do something really touristy. I’ve lived in London for well over three years now and I’d still not been anywhere really nice for tea. Well, actually I had been to Liberty, but Fortnum & Mason takes it up another notch.
Entering their tea room is like walking into another world. Comfortable armchairs and sofas, low tables, pastel colours everywhere and the most enormous floral arrangements I’ve ever seen.
We all opted for their High Tea menu, which for £36 includes a hot option, plain and fruit scones, madeleines, ginger cake, raspberry jam biscuits, and one cake from a selection they bring on a tray. If that sounds like a daunting amount, it’s ok because the portions are quite small. There is a very impressive range of teas to choose from, as you would expect. I chose a high-grown Darjeeling Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe. I like my tea leaves whole, in fact I was very disappointed when I finally got to visit a tea plantation on my Sri Lanka trip and it turned out they were tea dust merchants for Lipton. That’s a little harsh, but their best tea was a BOP (Broken Orange Pekoe) that I found far too bitter.
Anyway, of course the tea was wonderful. If I was to criticise, it’s that we only had one jug of hot water between three of us, so kept having to ask for refills. With a good quality tea, you can infuse the leaves several times, and I think the second and third infusions tend to be the best.
I had Welsh Rarebit as my hot option, as did Amy.
I translated this to “posh cheese on toast” but in Amy’s American it was “a bit like an open faced grilled cheese sandwich”.
Louise had the muffin – how good does this look?
The cakes were of course delicious.
For the first half hour or so we were entertained by a pianist. Apparently Fortnum & Mason is a good place to have your birthday party, because he played “Happy Birthday” at least twice.
So obviously it’s a very touristy thing to do, or a special occasion thing. But I think if I had guests who wanted to experience a proper afternoon tea, I wouldn’t hesitate to take them to Fortnum & Mason.