MY FIRST AFTERNOON TEA IN LONDON! I chose it because I thought the festive afternoon tea was still going on, which it wasn’t, but it was still delicious, and really made me feel very English.
For starters, I decided to walk there, taking a shortcut through Hyde Park, and getting my first glimpses of Big Ben, the London Eye and Buckingham Palace. As soon as you walk in, you are surrounded with teas and treats that you can buy and take home, but I was in the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, so I had to go up to the fourth floor, where you are greeted by a reception desk as well as a piano player. This would be the first glaring indication that F&M is fancy 🙂
I was brought to my table, and felt kind of out of place, being alone at one of the most social traditions there is, but then I looked around the room and couldn’t help but smile. I was in London, having Afternoon Tea at a fancy Tea Salon.
You might think Afternoon Tea is a little snack to tide you over before supper, but it has evolved into quite the meal, where I needed to take breaks and still couldn’t finish all of it.
For my tea, the waiter asked which teas I normally drink at home, then recommended the Countess Grey, which is kind of a one up to the Lady Grey I’ve had back home. He told me to take the first sip without milk, which I did, and although I still poured milk in my first cup, all subsequent ones were just tea 😉
I started from the bottom and worked my way up, so the sandwiches were the first things I savored. There were 2 smoked turkey, which were delicious, an egg salad one which was exquisite, a smoked salmon one that I think you might like even if you don’t like smoked salmon, and finally the traditional cucumber and cream cheese. Each had their own special bread, and when the waiter asked if I wanted more, I only said no because I knew I wouldn’t have room for the rest of it.
I had two scones, one plain and one with raisins. Both were melt in your mouth delicious, crispy on the outside, but warm and soft on the inside. I also used the clotted cream, lemon curd and strawberry preserve, and got to take what was left of the last two home 🙂
For the dessert platter, the pink one tasted like roses. Or, you know, what roses smell like, and therefore what I think they would taste like, although I have never eaten a rose. The big yellow ball was kind of like cheesecake wrapped in lemon on a graham cracker, so tasted a bit like heaven. The creme brulee one had tiny pieces of fruit, and I think it is brilliant to put it in an almond tasting cookie instead of a bowl, because you get to enjoy every last drop. The pink and yellow cake is actually wrapped in possibly almond paste, when I had been expecting fondant, so absolutely delectable.
Finally, you get to choose a slice from one of the cakes on the cake cart. I believe I was the first one to go for this, because all of the cakes were hole when I went to take mine. I knew I didn’t have room for more than a bite or so, and he said the Fruit Cake was the traditional English kind, so I went for that. It was very good, especially the icing on top, and the nuts, but my grandmother’s is better 😉
I plan to be an expert on Afternoon Teas in London by the time I leave, but for now, Fortnum & Mason will be hard to beat. And a special thank you to Michelle and Brenda, who gave me lots of tourist advice and made sure I wasn’t completely alone 🙂
As for the rest of my time here so far, I have subconsciously decided that the best way to discover a new city is to get lost in it, which I have been doing repeatedly. Sometimes I discovered things that could be useful later on, other times I just walked a lot longer than I had intended (like going to Buckingham Palace to get to Picadilly), but it was in London, so I am not going to complain.
I got to explore Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, did some shopping and saw the Christmas lights on Bond Street and Oxford Street.
Now I am off to work on the homework we were given, and get ready for my first day of school tomorrow!
“Not all who wander are lost.”
-J. R. R. Tolkien