Afternoon tea is one of the greatest and quaintest of British traditions, with a history stretching back almost two hundred years. Exactly where and when it originated is a matter of some debate, but the most common attribution goes to Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford, a close friend of Queen Victoria. It’s said that, sometime in the mid-1840s, the Duchess was feeling the effect of the contemporary fashion for dinner to be held later and later in the day. A new meal by the name of luncheon had been created to fill the gap, but it was light and didn’t stave off hunger for long enough, so she developed the habit of taking tea and sandwiches in the afternoon. She began to invite her friends to join her and word soon got around polite society in Britain, becoming widespread by the end of the nineteenth century.
Today, the pace of modern life dictates that afternoon tea is no longer a daily part of life for most British people. It’s a great treat, though, and a visit to London is a perfect opportunity to indulge – in fact, recent years have seen a surge in the popularity of afternoon teas in the capital. As you’d expect from such a renowned and refined British institution, Harrods is a great place to head for afternoon tea. Their Cream Tea for Two, in the mezzanine conservatory of the Harrods Terrace, is a delicious afternoon treat in an iconic environment with great views of London – the perfect refresher during a day taking in the most iconic London attractions. You’ll enjoy a selection of plain and fruit scones served with Harrods preserves and West Country clotted cream, and your choice of one of 14 Harrods fine teas.Harrods is in central London and is easily accessible from your hotel, Montcalm City Suites .
For a decadent afternoon tea with a continental twist, head to Raymond Blanc’s renowned Brasserie Blanc in the West End. With a range of teas from the renowned Tea Pigs range (or coffee, but that’s a possibility we’ll politely ignore, thank you), you can enjoy all the classic English afternoon tea accoutrements of scones, jams, cream and cakes, with a French twist provided by the addition of sparkling French wine and handmade chocolate truffles. If you’re after an interactive afternoon tea experience, get yourself down to the Smart School of Cookery in the beautiful St. Katharine Docks, where you can enjoy freshly made savoury treats with your tea, including home-smoked trout pâté and baked ham sandwiches. Then, you can watch your chef make dessert, in the form of a selection of mini sweet treats and patisserie, joining in yourself and – of course – enjoying the fruits of their and your labour. With a central London location and stunning views over St. Katharine Docks, this is a brilliant and interactive way to enjoy the British classic that is afternoon tea. The demonstration takes place inside, but if it’s a fine day and you’d like to enjoy your tea outside then you’re free to do so.