London’s best afternoon teas

From classic cakes to experimental brews

The Langham’s SeasonaliTea

Afternoon tea here is a total delight, but don’t just take my word for it. It recently won Best Tea Service at the Afternoon Tea Awards (yes, this exists). It’s thoroughly deserved, not least for The Langham’s recent innovation: the SeasonaliTea, served in its stunning Palm Court, which is constructed from pastries, scones and savouries all made from ingredients in season. Menus dictated by seasonal produce is one of food’s biggest emergent trends, with our taste buds catching up with our growing ethical consumerism. Pastry chef Andrew Gravett’s decision to forge his afternoon tea this way is inspired, and also places the emphasis on flavour, not just artful, Instagramable presentation. It also means that because the menu changes according to the season, return visits provide a surprise every time. www.langhamhotels.com

The Hari’s Truffle Tea

This newly-launched tea is the ideal creation for anyone with more of a savoury leaning than a sweet tooth, or for anyone who, frankly, wants to gorge themselves on a mouth-watering selection of treats. Served in the Belgravia hotel’s Italian restaurant, il Pampero, it is the brainchild of chefs Claudio Covino and Riccardo Zanetti and boasts a menu of arancini truffle, truffle pears, truffle bruschetta, caramel salted truffle, macaroons and chocolate doughnuts. It runs from August 16 – September 16 2018. We’ll race you there. www.thehari.com

Millie’s Afternoon Tea at The Ned

A relatively new player in the capital, converted bank The Ned has nevertheless fast made its stamp on London’s dining scene. Afternoon tea here is at Millie’s, the brasserie within the lofty-ceilinged Grand Banking Hall. Though it’s a vast space, Millie’s still manages to create a sense of cosiness, with its kitsch tea pots and snug sofas. The menu here is streamlined, simple and traditional, but also one of the most reasonably priced in the capital. Sit back, enjoy the atmosphere with a tea that, no pun intended, won’t break the bank. www.thened.com

Brown’s Hotel’s Tea Tox

Strictly speaking, afternoon tea should be an indulgence, but the svelte-waisted health nuts out there are not to be denied their own version. Chief among these is the Tea Tox at Brown’s Hotel. Served in its wood-panelled tea room, it is a feast for the health conscious, with traditional scones and pastries replaced seamlessly with beetroot crêpes, passion fruit and coconut rice condé and matcha raspberry cheesecake. You can, of course, derail all of these good intentions, by adding champagne. www.roccofortehotels.com

Dominique Ansel Bakery’s Splendid Tea

If you’re going to gorge yourself on pastries, why not head straight to the source, and dine with pastry masters? This critically-acclaimed bakery in Pimlico is replete with a stunning selection of unusual creations, such as lavender meringue with coconut ganache and vanilla mousse with lemon marmalade. For a true assault on your taste buds, try the aptly-named Splendid Tea which is, let’s face it, just showing off when it adds butter-poached Canadian lobster roll and Sevruga caviar. dominiqueansellondon.com

Fortnum and Mason’s High Tea

True tea fans could do worse than head to the place Her Majesty gets her cuppas from. Served in the Diamond Jubilee Salon, it has a quaint feel with predictably beautiful crockery. The menu is traditional, so newbies should head here for an old school experience, and it has the added benefit of, of course, being made from all of Fortnum’s own majestic ingredients. Handily, if you like what you eat, you can just pop downstairs and buy some more to take home! www.fortnumandmason.com

Sketch’s Classic Tea

It’s all about the environment here. Millennial pink everywhere, David Shrigley’s artwork on the walls and, yes, more pink. Sketch has always been on of the  quirkiest venues in London, with immersive and unusual artwork and famous egg-shaped loo pods. Tea here is, therefore, just as much about the experience as the food. Yet it is still a strong contender on the taste front, with a delectable selection of cakes and pastries and inventive sandwich choices, including caviar and quail egg. sketch.london

Ting’s British Summertime Afternoon Tea at The Shard

Tea with a view? Yes please. This one is served at a dizzying height over London, on the 35th floor of the Shangri-La Hotel, in The Shard. For those who don’t have a head for heights Ting’s plush interiors are a just as worthy a glance and the menu isn’t too shabby either. The summertime title is a hint, and this boasts lighter fare than some of the capital’s other tea offerings. Cakes are delicate offerings, including lemon lavender tarts, cherry blossom roulade and peach melba macaroons. The sandwiches are a sterling mix of traditional and imaginative, such as mango and chicken mayonnaise and salted cucumber with pink peppercorn cream cheese filling. www.ting-shangri-la.com

Tipsy Tea at Mr Fogg’s Residence

Typical of the Mr Fogg brand, this afternoon tea is not quite a sit down quaint affair but more an exploration of imaginative and experimental constructions, all served by staff that are more Victorian-costume-clad actors in an immersive theatre production than actual waiters. Served every Saturday and Sunday, these ‘tipsy teas’ take place in the Mayfair residence, on low velvet seats surrounded by eccentric bric-a-brac. The teas on offer here are largely champagne and gin based, called ‘Tea Leaf You Wanting More’ and ‘Ladies That Lapsang’, and are paired with a traditional mix of cakes and sandwiches and a quintessential dose of quirk. www.mr-foggs.com

Claridge’s Traditional Afternoon Tea

For traditional afternoon tea, there is nowhere better than Claridge’s. It comes with an unapparelled sense of glamour that still manages to makes you feel utterly comfortable. Those squishy, art-deco armchairs help too. Dining at Claridge’s has always been noted for its excellence; simple food made with a marvellous flourish, so much so that the hotel recently released its own cook book, detailing the stringent recipes passed down throughout its 200-year history. Yet Claridge’s calling card has to be the afternoon tea, perhaps the most quintessential in the capital for class and quality. Never-ending food, a novel-length list of teas, scrupulous service and a tranquil, old-school atmosphere. As one Canadian friend of mine said, when I took her here for tea; ‘I think I’m British now.’ www.claridges.co.uk

Art tea at The Rosewood

For those who want their afternoon of scoffing to come with a cultural flavour, The Rosewood, in High Holborn, is the place for you. The latest incarnation of its award-winning Art Afternoon Tea, created by executive pastry chef Mark Perkins, is inspired by pop art and Cubism. The menu includes a banana cake in tribute to Roy Lichtenstein and a cherry jelly and white chocolate mousse that’s a play on Andy Warhol’s famous Campbell’s Soup Can.  www.rosewoodhotels.com

Parisian Afternoon Tea at Maison Assouline

Fancy tea surrounded by gorgeous books? Then nestle in to the newly-launched Parisian tea at cult publisher Assouline’s first flagship store in Mayfair, housed in a former banking hall constructed in 1922. The standard selection of sweet and savoury treats are supplemented with luxury French flavours; L’Ami Louis foie gras, chocolate, hazelnut and apricot cakes and house champagne – and you can enjoy it all with a sumptuous book on your lap. www.assouline.com


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