Revealed: The BEST afternoon teas in Britain named in prestigious awards – but is your favourite on the list of finalists?
- There are 16 finalists in the first ever Afternoon Tea of the Year competition
- The final will be held on June 20 where three awards will be handed out
- All bar one of the afternoon teas is served up in London, with one in Wirral
- Some are very traditional while others put a quirky spin on the British tradition
It’s a tradition that dates back almost 200 years and now almost every hotel, restaurant and cafe offers a version of a classic British afternoon tea.
Now prestigious awards have named the 16 best teas in the UK ahead of the live final of the first ever Afternoon Tea of the Year competition on June 20 in central London, hosted by Hotel F&B magazine, with F&B Managers Association of London.
A traditional British afternoon tea is served on a three-tiered stand, with finger sandwiches on the bottom layer, plain or fruit scones served with jam, clotted cream or butter in the middle, and a selection of patisserie on the top.
While some of the mostly high end locations on the list have stuck with the classic formula, others have put a quirky spin on the patriotic mid-afternoon tradition.
All bar one of the finalists are located at high end restaurants, cafes or hotels in London, but the Wirral’s Thornton Hall Hotel & Spa’s £23.50 afternoon tea – which is available as a sweet or savoury treat – has also made the list.
The awards up for grabs include Best Tasting Afternoon Tea, Best Presentation and the overall Afternoon Tea of the Year award with a £1,000 top prize.
So is your favourite afternoon tea one of the finalists?
1. Upcycled Afternoon Tea at Georgian House Hotel, Pimlico, London (£20pp)
The Georgian House Hotel’s afternoon tea uses up discarded and leftover ingredients from kitchen including cheese crumbs for the scones (middle layer); egg whites from Hollandaise sauce for the lemon meringue pies (top layer, left), and mushroom stalks for the open sandwiches (bottom layer)
At this upmarket boutique hotel just 900 yards from Victoria station, scones, savoury bites and sweet treats are all present on the Georgian House Hotel’s afternoon tea menu. So far, so traditional.
But what makes this particular mid-afternoon meal different is that everything is made using leftover and discarded ingredients from its kitchen.
Chefs wanted to highlight the issue of food waste and how often perfectly edible food is binned for no reason by making treats out of items such as mushroom stalks and cucumber ends, and even bruised avocados.
The hotel states: ‘Our aim is to give customers an insight into the possibilities of making the most of the produce they buy and how when it comes to food to think outside the box.’
Sample of Georgian House Hotel’s afternoon tea menu
Mushrooms & bacon on toast – Mushroom stems with smoky lardons, thyme and garlic cream on brown toast
Meat & cider terrine – Leftover ends from slicing and dicing packed into a terrine with capers, cornichons and cider
Baked Cheese & thyme scone – Leftover cheese from portioning cheese and thyme
Fruit scone – Leftover dried fruit
Sweet Lemon meringue pie – Egg whites and lemons left over from Hollandaise sauce, with a biscuit base
Tea & apple doughnut – Fresh doughnuts infused with tea and filled with apple jam
Re-vitalized Prosecco – Flat Prosecco from the bottle fortified with herbs, spices and East London Liquor Gin
Spiced pineapple, ginger and cinnamon iced tea – Infused with pineapple skin, ginger, cinnamon
2. Dry Mart-Tea-Ni Afternoon Tea at Dry Martini By Javier de Las Muelas at The Meliá White House, Regent’s Park, London (£30pp)
The top layer features plain and fruit scones; the middle layer contains Chocolate Martini Mousse Éclair, Mango Cheesecake, Chocolate and Vanilla Gateau, and a Raspberry Dome desserts, and the bottom layer features open sandwiches such as Pork and Pickle on White Sourdough and Lamb and Mint on Charcoal Toast
The only cocktail bar on the list of finalists, it’s no surprise that Dry Martini By Javier de Las Muelas at The Melia White House in Regent’s Park, London, themes its afternoon tea around the cocktail after which it is named.
Guests will still receive traditional scones as well as some unusual tea-infused varieties served with clotted cream and jam but instead of finger sandwiches, posh open sandwiches with fillings such as pork and pickle, and lamb with mint are on offer.
Desserts are decadent, with Chocolate Martini Mousse Éclair infused with alcohol, and there’s a wide selection of teas on offer.
For an extra £10 per person, you can choose from a tea-infused gin cocktail menu that complements the different teas on offer, or for £15, a glass of Champagne.
The bar writes of its afternoon tea: ‘Our talented chefs and mixologists go beyond the realms of their craft to bring you a delectable selection of sweats, treats and teas mixed with drops of our famous Martini.’
Sample of Dry Martini’s afternoon tea menu
Pork and Pickle on White Sourdough
Lamb and Mint on Charcoal Toast
A selection of Lavender, Green Tea Fruit and Plain Scones served with Clotted Cream and Berry Preserve
Chocolate Martini Mousse Éclair, Mango Cheesecake, Chocolate and Vanilla Gateau, and a Raspberry Dome
Teas or coffees
3. The Great Wirral Afternoon Tea at Thornton Hall Hotel & Spa, The Wirral, Merseyside (£23.50pp)
The sweet afternoon tea at Thornton Hall Hotel & Spa features fruit and plain scones (bottom layer), finger sandwiches, and desserts including a Cherry Bakewell Macaroon (top right), and a Key Lime Tartlet (top centre)
The focus at Thornton Hall Hotel & Spa in The Wirral – the only non-London restaurant on the list of finalists – is firmly on the tea.
The hotel writes: ‘Ranging from the classic English breakfast to the exotic mandarin rose petal, we have a tea to suit every mood and accompany your Great Wirral Afternoon Tea.’
There are 23 varieties to choose from, as well as a selection of coffees and even a hot chocolate option.
And for guests who don’t have a sweet tooth, there’s a savoury afternoon tea on offer featuring a cheese scone and savoury nibbles instead of desserts as an alternative to their classic sweet tea.
There are also 10 different types of homemade jams to choose from with flavours including raspberry and vanilla, and red grapefruit curd.
Sample of Thornton Hall Hotel & Spa’s afternoon tea menu
Sweet afternoon tea
Cherry Bakewell Macaroon, Key Lime Tartlet
Plain and fruit scones with clotted cream
Savoury afternoon tea
Plaice Goujons, Chunky Chip and Tartare Sauce, Chilli Dog
Cheese scones served with chilli jam and Abernathy butter
Finger sandwiches served with both, with flavours including Prawn and Lime Mayonnaise, and Honey Glazed Ham and Pommery Mustard
4. Tea Total, The Perception, W London, Leicester Square, London (£37pp)
Some of the desserts are cocktails served in shot glasses and the rest of the tea is themed around an English garden
The Perception’s Tea Total afternoon tea offers up a quirky, modern take on the classic British tradition.
The bar’s mixologists have taken the cocktail experience to the next level by creating dessert cocktails themed around classic English sweets.
It comes in a sleek black box where diners have to pull open doors to reveal some of the treats.
The tea is garden-themed, so one chocolate mousse is in a flower pot and is topped with micro cress while a dew drop dessert is served on a spoon and is literally an edible droplet.
The hotel states: ‘Remix the senses and indulge in a mixologists dream served-up as a patissier’s perfection. Because having tea for tea is just so normal.’
Sample of The Perception’s afternoon tea menu
Sweets and Shots
Mint-flavoured chocolate mousse-filled pot with popping candy dirt and micro cress herbs.
Sandwiches and Scones
Roast Beef with Dijon Mayo on Onion Bread
Scones with clotted cream and jam.
5. Travel Through Time Afternoon Tea, Chelsea Harbour Hotel, Chelsea, London (£28pp)
Finger sandwiches include cuucmber sandwiches invented in the 1700s, coronation chicken invented in the 1950s for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation and brie and piccalilli sandwiches
If you want a traditional afternoon tea, it doesn’t get more antiquated than at Chelsea Harbour Hotel in London which has created treats from bygone eras.
However there is a futuristic element as the stand itself is shaped like a time machine, bringing the tea firmly into the 21st century – and possibly beyond.
In partnership with Whittard of Chelsea, the hotel says its tea takes ‘guests on a culinary journey through the history of afternoon tea, from its advent in 1840 by the Duchess of Bedford through to the present day.’
Designed and created by Senior Head Chef Kuljit Singh, it includes a modern twist on the quintessential cucumber sandwich created in the 1700s and a coronation chicken sandwich created in 1953 specifically for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation.
There’s also dry ice to create the illusion of travelling through time.
Sample of Chelsea Harbour Hotel’s afternoon tea menu
Cucumber sandwiches, coronation chicken, brie and piccalilli
6. Beer Afternoon Tea at The Rosebery Lounge at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London (£70pp)
Three beers have been paired with the afternoon tea at The Rosebery Lounge at Mandarin Oriental, which also features desserts such as battenberg cake (centre), freshly baked scones (left), and finger sandwiches (right)
If a cup of tea isn’t really your vibe, then The Rosebery Lounge at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London offers something a bit different in the way of a beer-themed afternoon tea.
Guests will be served three beers that have been chosen to perfectly pair with the treats on offer from quality breweries across the globe such as Thornbridge, Lambiek and Rogue.
This sumptuous menu features delicious savoury items such as a slow braised beef short rib, horseradish and watercress sandwich that can be enjoyed before sweet treats such as a maple syrup and pear jam ball – all in luxurious surroundings at one of the most exclusive hotels in the capital.
Sample of The Rosebery Lounge’s afternoon tea menu
Slow Braised Beef Short Rib, Horseradish and Watercress
Finest Cotswold Eggs Mixed with Black Truffle
Freshly baked raisins & plain scones
Accompanied by Devonshire Clotted Cream, Strawberry Jam, Rose Petal Jelly and Homemade Lemon Curd
Chocolate and Mandarin Eclair
Pina Colada Finger
7. Tale As Old As Time, Town House at The Kensington, South Kensington, London (£38.50pp)
Disney fans will love this Beauty and the Beast-themed afternoon tea at Town House at The Kensington, which features desserts shaped like some of the adorable characters
Beauty and the Beast fans should rush to Town House at The Kensington as its afternoon takes inspiration from the beloved 1991 Disney film.
Complete with charming Mrs. Potts and Chip Potts dishware, all the dishes are inspired by characters and scenes from the film.
There’s a ‘try the grey stuff’ mousse from the famous Be Our Guest musical number to a chocolate clock tart made with chocolate ganache.
Sample of Town House’s afternoon tea menu
Bite size venison pie
‘Try the grey stuff’ white chocolate mousse
Chocolate clock tart, made with chocolate ganache
Potted Argyll smoked salmon and creme fraiche
Roast Devon red chicken with cranberry
Marie’s sweet brioche baguette with apricot preserve and chocolate pot
8. Il Pampero Napolitea at The Hari Hotel, Belgravia, London (£35pp)
No scones here: Il Pampero offers savoury Italian treats such as bruschetta and burrata, as well as Italian desserts
The Hari’s luxurious Italian restaurant Il Pampero has put a Italian twist straight from Naples on its afternoon tea.
With bold vespa-green lacquers combining soft leathers and heritage fabrics, the setting is luxurious as guests dive into traditional Italian dishes such as burrata, and parma ham with melon.
Tradition goes out of the window here as there’s no scones – instead Italian pastries and desserts are on offer.
Sample of Il Pampero’s afternoon tea menu
Arrancini with mushroom and truffle
Burrata and avocado
9. British Summer Season Afternoon Tea at Chinoiserie, Jumeirah Carlton Tower, Belgravia, London (£45pp)
A musical note-themed dessert (centre) nods to the resident harpist who plays in the background as you tuck into a large number of treats including scones, sandwiches and petit fours, as well as savoury ‘cones’ (right)
A resident harpist serenades you at Chinoiserie as you indulge in afternoon tea at Jumerirah Carlton Tower Hotel in Belgravia, making this one of the most luxurious and opulent teas on the list of finalists.
The tea is strictly traditional, but there are fine dining influences here with savoury treats served in cones, and a musical note-themed desserts nods to the music in the background.
The hotel wants to invoke ‘the Victoria era’ and the ‘English tradition’ with this tea.
Sample of Chinoiserie’s afternoon tea menu
Tomato cone filled with barrel aged feta, tomato and olive
Sesame cone filled with guacamole and red onion salsa
Mini bagel with pickled cucumber, kiln roasted salmon and lemon cream cheese
Spinach bread with asparagus, basil and rosary goats cheese
A Wimbledon white chocolate crema tart with apricot compote and a lemon truffle tennis ball
Sweet pineapple bavarois cream with brown sugar and mango compote, based on The Proms
Raspberry and hibiscus sorbet
10. ‘Birdcage’ Afternoon Tea, The Sheraton Grand Park Lane London (£37pp)
The Sheraton Grand Park Lane London Hotel’s afternoon tea comes in a birdcage in a nod to the architect who built the hotel in 1927 who named the internal steel structure of the building the birdcage
Stepping into The Sheraton Grand Park London Hotel is like stepping back into the glamorous 1920s with its art deco features and luxurious style.
The afternoon tea reflects all that glitz and glamour and is inspired by the hotel’s architect Sir Bracewell Smith, who built the Park Lane Hotel in 1927.
It is served in a birdcage-like structure because Sir Bracewell oversaw the building of the groundbreaking internal steel structure of the hotel, nicknamed ‘the birdcage’.
There are 27 types of tea as well as the traditional scones, pastries and very posh finger sandwiches.
Sample of The Sheraton Grand’s afternoon tea menu
John Ross Smoked Salmon, Caper Cream, Dill & Seaweed Scone
Smoked Trout and Pickled Cucumber, Horseradish Mayonnaise
Plain and Sultana Scones
Variety of Fine Pastries
11. Garden Afternoon Tea, St Ermin’s Hotel, Westminster, London (£29pp)
St Ermin’s Hotel offers up a garden-themed afternoon tea including a chocolate and caramel pot that comes in a miniature flower pot
St Ermin’s Hotel in the heart of central London offers up a charming garden-themed afternoon tea, featuring a dessert that comes in a minature flower pot.
Other than the theme, the tea is very traditional but carried off expertly.
The hotel caters for all its guests, offering a special gluten-free tea and a Mini Gardener’s Tea for little ones.
Sample of St Ermin’s Hotel afternoon tea menu
Freshly baked scones
Honey roast ham with wholegrain mustard
Scottish smoked salmon with cream cheese & chives
Chocolate and salted caramel pot
Apple and cinnamon mousse
12. The Stafford Afternoon Tea, The Stafford London hotel, St James’s, London (£36pp)
The Stafford’s afternoon tea is truly traditional, with finger sandwiches on the bottom, scones in the middle and seasonal pastries on top
The Stafford Afternoon Tea is served in the hotel’s recently refurbished lounge spaces, which has interconnected drawing rooms.
They are luxurious rooms in which to indulge in a truly traditional afternoon tea.
There’s plenty of treats to tuck into including little cakes, pastries, dainty finger sandwiches and delicious homemade scones with lashings of clotted cream and jam.
Tea is served in fine china and you can also watch a tea ceremony with teas from Camellia’s Tea House.
Sample of The Stafford’s afternoon tea menu
Your choice of tea and coffee
Selection of finger sandwiches
Homemade plain and raisin scones Seasonal jams and Cornish clotted cream
13. East of Meridian Afternoon Tea, InterContinental London – The O2, North Greenwich, London (£35pp)
The InterContinental’s afternoon tea is quite traditional but features exotic ingredients as it’s inspired by Greenwich’s rich trading history
This afternoon tea at the InterContinental at London’s O2 arena is inspired by the city’s rich trading history, drawn from its location near the docks.
Featuring exotic ingredients that would have arrived into London’s docks in the 18th Century, the tea is a partnership with the historic East India Company.
It’s served in the Meridian Lounge, which takes its name from the hotels location within Greenwich, a destination marking the starting point of every time zone in the world.
Sample of InterContinental’s afternoon tea menu
Chicken coronation with mango chutney on pain de lie
Mature Cheddar cheese and pickle on carrot bread
Alphonso mango and cardamom sphere
English rhubarb and spiced custard verrine
Traditional scones served with homemade strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream
14. Royal Afternoon Tea, Park Terrace, Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington, London (£41pp)
Freshly baked raisin and cinnamon scones on top, delicate cakes including battenberg on the middle, and more cake slices on bottom. You’re served unlimited finger sandwiches
Situated adjacent to Kensington Palace – home to the Dukes and Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex – this afternoon is truly royal.
There’s live music from a resident pianist in the background, as well as unlimited sandwiches, raisin and cinnamon scones, delicate cakes and fine loose leaf tea.
The royal tea also features strawberries drizzled with a balsamic glaze and a glass of bubbles.
Sample of The Royal Garden Hotel’s afternoon tea menu
Raisin and cinnamon scones
Unlimited finger sandwiches
Strawberries with balsamic glaze
Glass of Champagne
15. The Royal Afternoon Tea, Emmeline’s Lounge, Conrad London St James Hotel, St James’s, London (£35pp)
Not only can guests enjoy scones, sweets and sandwiches, but the tea also comes with a pea and goat’s cheese veloute, and a quail’s scotch egg (pictured)
Named after the 19th century British political activist Emmeline Pankhurst, Emmeline’s Lounge is a luxurious space in which to enjoy a traditional afternoon tea.
Its latest Royal Afternoon Tea is inspired by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s royal wedding, and was created by Executive Pastry Chef Diana Sedlakova and her team.
It features sweets including a hazelnut and banana ‘veil’, a Tonka bean and strawberry diamond ring and of course freshly baked plain and fruit scones.
There’s also some savouries to nibble on too.
There are also finger sandwiches served on a delicious selection of breads.
Sample of Emmeline’s Lounge afternoon tea menu
Hereford Roast Beef, Creamed Horseradish and Watercress on Pain de Mie
Cucumber cream cheese and chive on black rye bread
Cakes and Pastries
Hazelnut and banana ‘veil’
Tonka bean and strawberry diamond ring
Freshly baked scones
16. Honey Bee Afternoon Tea, Dalloway Terrace at The Bloomsbury Hotel, Soho, London (£35pp)
The treats mostly contain honey as the tea is themed around the honey bee, and some even feature mini bees made out of sugar
With its gorgeous flowery walls and decorations, it’s easy to see why Dalloway Terrace is one of the most Instagrammed restaurants in London.
Now it is up for the award of Afternoon Tea of the Year for its teatime treat that has taken inspiration from the honey bee to raise awareness of the insect’s declining population and its value to the environment.
Created by new head pastry chef Chris Dodd, the sweet elements of the menu are based on four key habitats which are crucial to the continued existence of the honey bee.
There is honey in almost every dish, including a honey roast ham sandwich and a vanille scone served with raw honey.
There are also gluten free, vegetarian and vegan options available.
Sample of Dalloway Terrace’s afternoon tea menu
‘Field’ – Lemon shortbread, lavender honey and blueberry cream and blueberry glaze
‘Garden’ – Sweet potato and cashew cake, cashew milk glaze, honey cashew nuts
Morello Cherry scone
Both served with raw honey, homemade jam, and clotted cream
Honey Roast Ham and English Mustard Mayonnaise, Wholemeal Bread
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