View Full Version : Good Tea....well.... Expensive Tea

3rd Jul 2010, 01:45
The English Tea Room, Brown's Hotel

This is the archetypal English tearoom and winner of the Tea Guild's 2009 top London tea place. The rooms are wood-panelled, the tables and chairs low and the piano plays in the background. It feels intimate and the rest of the world fades away. Enjoy the beautiful table linen and specially commissioned white-and-green china. The sandwiches - chicken and chives, smoked salmon, cheese and pickle, cucumber, egg and mayo - are continually restocked so, of course, we eat too many. The second tier of the stand holds macaroons and other little pastries. Warm scones are placed at the top when requested. We also tuck into traditional English cakes from the cake trolley, offered only at Brown's. Service is good despite a crowd. I select two teas from the menu of 17 and I'm given a small sachet to take home. Avoid the first room if possible as it's the entrance and exit. Tipping here is genuinely discretionary and you can stay as long as you want. I did.

Address: Albemarle Street, W1. See Brown's Luxury Hotel London: A Rocco Forte Collection Luxury Hotel (http://www.brownshotel.com/dining/english-tea-room).

Price: Traditional afternoon tea, £37.

Tube: Green Park.

In the area: Ormonde Jayne's perfumes in the Royal Arcade.

The Mandeville Hotel

My father and son (88 and 18 respectively) try the men's afternoon tea in the hotel's chic deVille restaurant. What separates the gentlemen from the ladies? Well, Tiffany Blue china for the men, pink floral Royal Doulton by Zandra Rhodes for the women. There's a champagne cocktail option for one team while the other can choose the whisky afternoon tea, with extra savouries and meat for the cavemen. Reports from the men are of gourmet sandwiches (crab and shrimp, with alternatives for the seafood-intolerant grandfather), sirloin on focaccia, beef satays, substantial chocolate brownies, good fruit cake, cheesecake and chocolate beignet bites. There is a limited number of good black (including Earl Grey and vanilla), white and herbal teas from the upmarket supplier Jing. What better way to bridge a 70-year age gap?

Address: Mandeville Place, W1. See Afternoon Tea (http://www.mandeville.co.uk/Afternoon-Tea.hotel).

Price: £23.50; whisky/champagne tea, £31.

Tube: Bond Street.

In the area: Selfridges, one of London's best department stores.

The Lanesborough, Hyde Park Corner

We sit at a high table on the mezzanine of a large, light room with a 1920s chandelier and conservatory-style ceiling. The tea list is superb and advice from England's first tea sommelier is judicious and wide-ranging; for example, London water is so hard it is triple-filtered by this tea room. After the fruit mousse appetiser comes a cake stand of exquisite food. Each sandwich is made on a different bread - brown, granary, brioche and white - with smoked salmon, egg, chicken, tomato and coriander. The bite-sized quichelets are excellent. Next come delicious little cakes: banana and walnut, chocolate, lemon and a passionfruit chou. Tea cakes are brought in hot when requested, followed by scones - jams, lemon curd and cream. The Lanesborough was the 2008 top London tea place. The service is excellent, the afternoon perfect.

Address: Hyde Park Corner, SW1. Phone +44 (0)20 7259 5599, see The Lanesborough, London | Luxury 5 Star Hotel London | Hotels London | St. Regis Hotel (http://www.lanesborough.com).

Price: The Lanesborough tea is £35 plus 12.5 per cent service.

Tube: Hyde Park Corner.

In the area: The Australian war memorial wall is in the middle of Hyde Park Corner.

Palm Court at The Langham

As you enter the recently refurbished Langham, awarded this year's top London afternoon tea venue, the hotel's ginger-lily scent whets the appetite. The Palm Court, which has been serving afternoon tea since 1865, is large and light, the ceiling high, the walls silver art deco. The atmosphere is elegant, not intimidating, and low round tables and comfortable chairs are well spaced for privacy. The waiters are knowledgeable about their impressive tea list and will help you choose.

We share two menu choices: the standard afternoon tea (named Wonderland) and the Bijoux afternoon tea. Berry compote is served as an appetiser for both. The Bijoux is a foodie treat with unusual savouries - I'll go back for the foie gras and the salmon and caviar tartlets. Delicious little cakes evoke jewellers: Asprey daisy, Chanel purse, Delices de Cartier, Bulgari Opera. Then come chocolate, raisin and plain scones. The Wonderland is excellent, too - perfect finger sandwiches, raspberry and pistachio cake, chocolate eclair, passionfruit meringue, bakewell tart, then scones. The waiters offer you more to eat and continually refresh the teapot. I leave reluctantly with my elegant doggie box when the high-tea crowd arrives at 5pm.

Address: 1C Portland Place, Regent Street, W1. Phone +44 (0)20 7965 0195, see London luxury hotels - The Langham Hotel London Official Site (http://www.london.langhamhotels.co.uk/en/restaurants/palm-court.htm).

Price: Wonderland tea, £35; Bijoux tea, £42.50, plus 12.5 per cent service.

Tube: Oxford Circus.

In the area: On a fine afternoon, walk off your tea in Regent's Park, 10 minutes up Portland Place.

Tea at Liberty

If you're shopping in the area, try this pretty little tea room on the ground floor at any time of day. It gets crowded and you can't book. It's not as elegant as the hotels but then it's in a different price range. Share one full afternoon tea between two. There are no gourmet nibbles but sensible sandwiches and big helpings of traditional cakes.

Address: Great Marlborough Street, W1. Phone +44 (0)20 7734 1234. Open Mon-Sat, 10am-8.30pm; Sun, noon-5.30pm.

Price: £18.95, plus 12.5 per cent service.

Tube: Oxford Circus.

In the area: Liberty itself.


Set in the heart of historic Spitalfields on the edge of the city, this is an oriental tea house, not an English tea room. There are no sandwiches, cake or scones but exceptional teas with matched biscuits and chocolates from patissier-chocolatier William Curley. The atmosphere in the long Japanese-inspired room is peaceful, the tone hushed. We sit on high chairs at a long tea bar where our tea expert gives advice and infuses our teas. Come here to sample choice white, green, oolong and puer tea. I have walnut and miso biscuits with my green tea, shortbread with the oolong and a jasmine truffle for greed. Or try the new tasting menu of three teas with matched biscuits and chocolates. Watching the tea-making process is an education. Tea is infused in small bowls and the temperature and infusion time are critical, hence the thermometer and timer. One set of leaves yields several infusions, stronger towards the end but never bitter. If you're really keen, come to a masterclass on Thursday evenings.

Address: 6 Lamb Street, E1. Phone +44 (0)20 7247 1333; see TeaSmith (http://www.teasmith.co.uk).

Price: Teas about £5; biscuits £1.50-£2; chocolates £2-£3. Tasting menu £25.

Tube: Liverpool Street, Aldgate.

In the area: Spitalfields is redolent with history and Brick Lane is nearby

3rd Jul 2010, 02:42
Unsurpassed civilisation at its finest.

On the beach
3rd Jul 2010, 07:56
Mmm, afternoon tea, that English indulgence. Thanks Rollingthunder for reminding me of some half-forgotten, past pleasures.

The Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh does a passable "tea and stickies", served in the Palm Court aka The "Bolly" Bar with the occasional accompaniment of a harpist or the more traditional pianist. There is a choice of about 20 loose leaf teas and a reasonable, if somewhat limited, choice in the sandwich and cake department. As you would expect they do have rather nice shortbread, though. Being located in the "Bolly" Bar, there is always the option of a glass or two of fizzy. My advice would be to get there early if you haven't reserved a table.


If you are still feeling a bit peckish later on then I can thoroughly recommend going downstairs to Number One restaurant and trying the tasting menu. They also do a veggie tasting menu, which suits Mrs. OTB. The ambiance is redolent of the colonial Far East glory days with plenty of dark wood and a subdued colour scheme together with louvred window shutters. Speaking of the Far East reminds me of the High Tea Buffet at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong with it's rose petal jam, but therein lies another tale.

3rd Jul 2010, 08:10
Chez Torque:

Chuck an Aldi Diplomat teabag in a favourite chipped mug, you know, the one with an NGK sparkplug advert on the side.

Add a dash of semi skimmed, one sugar and choose a ginger biscuit or whatever else is left in the bottom of the biscuit jar.

Retreat to drink in the garage, sit on an old bit of bedroom carpet whilst pondering how best to fix the latest problem with the car or motorbike.

Cost: About 10 pence. Crackin'!

3rd Jul 2010, 09:05
Preferred the now sadly closed-down cafe in the doctors' surgery in Newbury ... open Sunday mornings where you could get a huge mug of tea and a fried-egg sandwich, all for a £1.



3rd Jul 2010, 09:23
Remember going to afternoon tea with my parents in the dining car of The Royal Scot en route from London to Glasgow, c 1956. Cost about 3/6 a head IFRC, and remember being impressed by my normally pretty tight father pushing the boat out like that. Seemed like the height of luxury to me at the time, and sadly it's not an experience that can be repeated on a British train these days.

3rd Jul 2010, 09:25
'Afternoon tea' - what a strange expression; nobody actually says it in normal conversation. It's just 'tea'. 'Tea' of course means different things to different people and in different circumstances, from Shy Torque's mug and ginger biscuit, to 'tea at the ritz' and everything in between. It also includes 'high tea' or early evening meal, especially in Scotland.
I suspect 'afternoon' tea was invented by hotels and olde tea shoppes to help tourists and other 'outsiders' negotiate the layers of meaning, class, geography and occasion inherent in this little word.
Drop the 'afternoon', reclaim 'tea' and confuse the foreigner!

3rd Jul 2010, 09:33
early evening meal, especially in Scotland.

And those of us in England who are irredeemably common and can't bring ourselves to call our evening meal "supper"!

Just re-read Rolling Thunder's thread and just realised that some people live in a world where they can spend not far short of £100 for tea for two.


Ancient Observer
3rd Jul 2010, 09:34
thanks for bringing that up. Very nice.

My sister in law who likes to think she is posh (she lives in Tx) does all that tea stuff in London.

ShyTorque, however, describes my main choice more accurately. However, at least I've got an old chair, (placed on top of an old carpet to keep feet less cold in winter).
AND - it has to be either PG tips, or Sainsbury's best, with NO sugar..

Metro man
3rd Jul 2010, 09:38
TWG Tea Company (http://www.twgtea.com/)

Located in Singapore but expanding. Has tea from every country in the world which produces it. Also a nice looking tea room attached, usually has a queue waiting.

Better value can generally be obtained by purchasing a good quality tea, visiting the bakers/deli and consuming at home.

3rd Jul 2010, 09:38
Tea for me was Sunday evening tea. An old black Tea trolley with barleysugar legs, never used for anything else. A large pot of tea, with cups and saucers, on the top shelf. Three or four varieties of sandwiches on the next shelf down. Cream slices, angel cakes, chocolate cake, cheese and biscuits on the next shelf. All home made by Mum. Hancock's Half Hour on the radio. No television. Not every Sunday, but often enough to stick in the memory.


3rd Jul 2010, 10:10
Afternoon tea was the description used to distinguish it from "High Tea", the latter icluding hot cooked food of your choice and you could have ham and eggs without anyone blinking an eyelid. Whereas afternoon tea probably meant the pot, hot water and something fattening. My father understood tea to be the evening meal at 6pm and supper to be a light bite just before "retiring" for the night. Tea by itself for him was stewed thick black and strong. It was "masked", i.e. left on the stove or a hot stone to bring the flavour out. For me tea still is the most refreshing drink, though I like it weaker than Dad, hot in a pot, while sat in the shade with the sun overhead. With a slice of banana cake and always a ritual when "Reflections" was open. And oh the smell when the lid of the caddy comes off. My grandfather drank tea by the gallon that was fit to tar a ship and smoked Ogden's Plug that was also fit to tar a ship but was so hard it had to be cut by a wicked knife into chips that smouldered. He had little perforated silver lids to fit to his pipes so that on damp days on the vegetable plot he could smoke with the bowl of the pipe upside down without his baccy falling out. His pipes always sat stem uppermost on a little rack just to one side of the fireplace with a brass cone hanging from a nail filled with tapers. Funny that just the mention of "tea" brings all sorts of memories flooding back!

3rd Jul 2010, 10:16
The Courtyard at the Fullerton Hotel. They serve the TWG teas referred to earlier. SGD38++ IIRC with endless top ups of little cucumber sarnies, scones and cakey things.

If you are in HK and feel like playing at being a tourist, queue for the one at the Peninsula.

3rd Jul 2010, 12:47
Reflect on whether you would approach any of the above experiences as a one-off treat or would you consider it to be an everyday event?

Apparently, sushi served at Wimbledon is £11 per serving.
Sounds cheap compared to some of the prices of the above.

3rd Jul 2010, 12:48
Slight drift sorry, but talking of tea, if anyone comes accross Twinings Voyage Brazilian Baia tea, anywhere in the world, please let me know where. Thanks!


Lon More
3rd Jul 2010, 13:03
Summer afternoons, early 1950s, mum and aunts would listen to bands, usually Royal Corps of Signals, or similar in the Bandstand whilst I'd play in the paddling pool then to the Pavilion for High Tea followed by the Five Mile walk home.

The Pavilion, the Glen, Dunfermline

3rd Jul 2010, 15:46
Would be interested to know if this thread has inspired anyone to indulge in a tea afternoon at a nice place. not necessarily out in shed pondering motorcycle engine fix over Twinings mug

3rd Jul 2010, 15:48
I bought tea at the Ritz for mum & dad for Christmas a few years ago. They enjoyed it, but said the place was full of tourists. Like them.:)

3rd Jul 2010, 16:42
Shy and Whirly.:ok::)

3rd Jul 2010, 16:58
It used to be quite the "Thing" to have had "Tea" in the three 'R's.
The Ritz in London,
Reids in Madiera,
and Raffles in Singapore.
Been it, seen it, done it.

3rd Jul 2010, 17:20
I don't think that you quite get the point of it all, GobonaStick.
My favourite was Reids in Madiera. Lovely afternoon Tea, and
a fantastic view out to sea from the balcony.

Ancient Observer
3rd Jul 2010, 17:38
I've done the Raffles and the Peninsula "Teas", but I find that the one in the garage in full contemplation of the jobs list is perfectly OK, too.
They are just different experiences.

(There was also a nice place in KL - up in the hills somewhere - the sort of place that Chas and Di would go to - can't remember it's name)

I'm not sure I'm old enough yet to go to Madeira.

3rd Jul 2010, 17:45
I'm not sure I'm old enough yet to go to Madeira.
Long way to go for a pot of char . . .

What about 'street char' somewhere in India?

Wouldn't that be the real experience?

Edited to add:-
Yunnan Province has also been identified as "the birthplace of tea . . . the first area where humans figured out that eating tea leaves or brewing a cup could be pleasant."
(this is south-western China bordering Burma, Laos and Vietnam)

3rd Jul 2010, 17:49
Lots to be said for the street char in India.
Funnily enough, never had any side effects from the
brews offered from the Char Walhas.
(Or should it be Chai?)
Some of it can be quite spicy IIRC?

3rd Jul 2010, 22:37
Baia - available on Dutch eBay

Twinings Voyage Brazilian Baía Tee / Tea 20x2gr - eBay, Thee, Dranken en gastronomie, Al het andere .... (Eindtijd 27-jul-10 16:21:50 CEST) (http://cgi.ebay.nl/Twinings-Voyage-Brazilian-Baia-Tee-Tea-20x2gr-/390213830923?cmd=ViewItem&pt=LH_DefaultDomain_146&hash=item5ada8e890b)

3rd Jul 2010, 22:50
Any body ever heard of 'Red Rose Tea', or know where it can be obtained?

Metro man
4th Jul 2010, 00:31
Red Rose Shopping Cart - All Products (http://www.redrosetea.com/allproducts.aspx)

4th Jul 2010, 00:38
Polly Tea Rooms, Marlborough, Wiltshire.

4th Jul 2010, 02:22
Reflect on whether you would approach any of the above experiences as a one-off treat or would you consider it to be an everyday event?

Somewhere in between. We do the Fullerton every 3 or 4 months, or when we have people staying with us.

Equally we enjoy a S$1.20 teh tarik sat outside Cafe Kampung Glam in Arab St watching the world go by.

4th Jul 2010, 13:05
Metroman - many thanks

Ancient Observer
4th Jul 2010, 13:21
The Tea Museum up near the Botanic gardens in HKG Island is a "must" for anyone with an interest in tea.

Windy Militant
4th Jul 2010, 18:47
A friend of mine rated airfields by how good the cakes were and planned her flying accordingly.
Posh tea is an experience, but a Mug of hot sweet NAAFI or builders tea is a divine ecstatic experience if you've been freezing your bits off for several hours.:ok:

5th Jul 2010, 08:57
I have a perchant for Twinings breakfast tea any time any day and drunk from any good bone china drinking vessel, be it cup or mug.

The making of tea is an art not a science.

flying lid
5th Jul 2010, 10:46

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