Friday, 14 December 2012

London’s Top 3 Festive Afternoon Teas


By Nathalie Bonney.

Mad Hatters afternoon tea with Luna And Curios, Sanderson Hotel
Although not strictly speaking a yuletide afternoon tea, there is more than enough magic and whimsy at the Sanderson’s Alice in Wonderland-themed tea (pictured above) to secure its place in our festive countdown. A riddle straight from the Cheshire cat’s mouth, is wrapped around each napkin and menus are vintage books with tea details in the middle.

This attention to detail is thanks to the hotel’s collaboration with Shoreditch based design collective Luna and Curious, where as much effort has been put into the crockery and tableware as the food and tea. Card deck king and queen teapots, trapeze artist, zebra and birdcage teacups, side plates, and carousel-design cake stands are all great fun. Sugar cubes are served in musical jewellery boxes, complete with a ballerina twirling to ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ when you open the lid.

All this wonder and we haven’t even got to the food. In keeping with the Alice theme, a miniature glass bottle, labelled ‘drink me’ serves up three layers of flavour: passion fruit jelly, coconut pana cotte and an exotic foam; marshmallow mushrooms, carrot meringue, mini clock face Victoria sponges and giant white chocolate encased mango mousse tear. Divine. Scones, sweet and savoury, exquisitely presented sandwiches, (thin strips of bread rolled up) and a jelly trolley, serving extremely fruity gelatinous delights round things out.

The tea is served at the Sanderson’s outdoor Courtyard Garden. Under cover with heaters, trees, fountains and candlelight when it gets dark, it’s a suitable wonderland.

Tea available from 11am-5,30pm. £35 or £45 with a glass of champagne.

Royal Horseguards hotel Festive Christmas afternoon tea
Fancy a Christmassy stroll along the Southbank? Time it so you either start or end your walk at Embankment and enjoy the Royal Horseguards hotel festive afternoon tea. Served up in its cosy lounge, complete with Christmas tree and festive garlands, afternoon tea at this hotel is the perfect way to thaw out after London shopping. Its Indian spiced chai tea, with Ceylon and aromatic spices, creates a "teatotal" mulled flavour and is the perfect winter warmer. For ultra relaxation, a harpist even plays some dates.

Pastry chef Joanne Todd is known for her creativity and willingness to change what’s on the menu and while scones and finger sandwiches will always figure, Todd is also adept at changing up the menu with seasonal afternoon teas covering everything from Halloween to Wimbledon and the Queen’s Jubilee.

Savoury mini bacon muffins with melted cheese on top and choux pastry filled with egg mayo are welcome savoury extras.

Delicate pastel–hued peppermint macaroons, shortbreads, cute-looking Christmas pudding cake pops, white chocolate, coconut and chili snowballs (my fave) and Valrhona chocolate baubles are all bitesize enough to balance out the heavier flavours of typical Christmas fare. Time for another mince pie then…

Limited edition menu available until 1 January 2013. £35

Festive afternoon tea and carol concert tea, The Dorchester
The daddy of Christmas-hued afternoon teas, the Dorchester doesn’t just serve up Christmas pastries and mince pies, but carols too. Its, admittedly pricey, weekend teas are served up to the accompaniment of a local school choir singing carols.

To cut the cost and Aled-Joneses in the making, go for a weekday tea. Start things off with the Dorchester champagne and turkey, cranberry and sausage meat stuffing sandwich. Among others.

Extra sweet treats (definitely not to eat) this year include a Gingerbread Hotel (pictured above), made out of 2000 individual pieces of gingerbread, constructed by the Dorchester’s pastry team and measuring 5.5” wide by 4.5” tall. It has nine floors, six replica balconies and even includes the hotels famous front doors.

A ‘sweets in the City’ emporium meanwhile is perfect for children and sweet tooths alike; chocca with giant lollipops and chocolate coins and retro sweets, such as flying saucers and dolly mixture.

Christmas carol afternoon tea on 15 and 16 December and 22 and 23 December at 2pm and 4.30pm. £64 per adult and £35 per child. Limited availability and can only reserve over the phone. Call 020 7319 7147.

Festive afternoon tea until 1 January 2012 at 1.15pm, 2.30pm, 3.15pm, 4.45pm and 5.15pm. £51.

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