AF­TER­NOON TEA 101

KEVIN UNG heads to Lon­don to learn how and where to tea like the Brits do

#Legend - - FOOD -

A REL­A­TIVELY BRIEF HIS­TORY OF AF­TER­NOON TEA

There are few things more quintessen­tially Bri­tish than af­ter­noon tea. For more than

150 years, the English have been par­tak­ing in this unique late-af­ter­noon meal meant to curb one’s ap­petite be­fore din­ner. Anna Maria Russell, a friend of Queen Vic­to­ria’s, is cred­ited with in­vent­ing the tra­di­tion due to the hunger pangs she fre­quently ex­pe­ri­enced.

Now a Bri­tish in­sti­tu­tion, the pop­u­lar­ity of af­ter­noon tea has spread around the world and is still par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar in for­mer Bri­tish colonies in­clud­ing Aus­tralia, Hong Kong and Sin­ga­pore. While it’s true that other Euro­pean coun­tries en­joyed sim­i­lar meals be­fore the Bri­tish, English af­ter­noon tea has emerged to de­fine the Western tea-drink­ing tra­di­tion in mod­ern times.

AF­TER­NOON TEA OR HIGH TEA?

One of the most con­fus­ing as­pects of af­ter­noon tea is the name it­self. Many mis­tak­enly call the meal “high tea”, which is a dif­fer­ent meal that’s sim­i­lar to din­ner. In places such as Hong Kong and Aus­tralia, “high tea” can re­fer to English af­ter­noon tea, and post­noon snack breaks are called “af­ter­noon teas”. As con­fus­ing as this is, it’s best to stick to the orig­i­nal English us­age and use the lat­ter.

WHERE TO GET THE BEST AF­TER­NOON TEA IN LON­DON Clar­idge’s: the quin­tes­sen­tial af­ter­noon tea

One of the most iconic ho­tels in Lon­don, Clar­idge’s has played host to roy­alty, heads of state, celebri­ties, fash­ion icons and the who’s who of the world. The ho­tel has held an im­por­tant place in Lon­don’s his­tory since it opened its doors in 1856 and, af­ter more than 150 years, its con­tin­ued longevity and rel­e­vancy is no sur­prise. Since the ho­tel’s early days, it has been famed for its world-class ser­vice.

As you would ex­pect from a ho­tel with such a sto­ried past, Clar­idge’s also has a famed af­ter­noon tea. Sit­u­ated in a 1930s art de­coin­spired din­ing room de­signed by Thierry De­spont, Clar­idge’s makes no at­tempt to hide the fact that you’re din­ing in lux­ury.

From cus­tomised sil­ver serv­ing trays be­side the ta­ble to knowl­edge­able tea som­me­liers, ev­ery­thing is pre­pared with pro­fes­sion­al­ism, care and ex­quis­ite at­ten­tion to de­tail.

The menu fea­tures a tra­di­tional se­lec­tion of del­i­cate fin­ger sand­wiches, scones and sweet pas­tries. Chef Mar­tyn Nail and his team of chefs change the pas­try menu every week ac­cord­ing to what’s in sea­son, en­sur­ing that guests will only be din­ing on the very best.

All this adds up to a pam­pered, tra­di­tional and lush ex­pe­ri­ence that stays true to Bri­tain’s time-hon­oured tea tra­di­tion.

Jean- Georges at The Con­naught: the art of mod­ern fu­sion

The Con­naught Ho­tel is the per­fect blend of old-meets-new, and you can see this in Jean-Georges’ af­ter­noon tea. For a more con­tem­po­rary ex­pe­ri­ence, the restau­rant of­fers a won­der­fully de­signed din­ing area with floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows, stained glass, ac­cents and stun­ning cir­cu­lar light fix­tures. The open­ness of the din­ing area also al­lows you to re­lax and en­joy peo­ple-watch­ing in the heart of May­fair.

The menu com­bines tra­di­tional English af­ter­noon tea with Jean-Georges’ unique Asian-fu­sion twists. For ex­am­ple, in­stead of a nor­mal cu­cum­ber sand­wich, you’ll taste a sur­pris­ing hint of mint and lime, and in­stead of ham and cheese, there’s the ad­di­tion of miso mus­tard. For a more present-day take on tea with the com­fort of sta­ples such as scones and fin­ger sand­wiches, Jean-Georges is the per­fect place to re­lax and spend your af­ter­noon.

Prêt-à-Portea at The Berke­ley: where fash­ion meets tea

The Berke­ley is the most mod­ern ho­tel among our rec­om­men­da­tions, with beau­ti­ful in­te­ri­ors and rooms cre­ated by renowned de­sign­ers. The ho­tel’s ap­pre­ci­a­tion for great de­sign lends it­self well to its Prêt-à-Portea, which is a for­ward-look­ing af­ter­noon tea that takes its in­spi­ra­tion from the lat­est fash­ion shows.

With an al­ter­na­tive twist on tra­di­tional English tea, the items on the menu are in­spired by the lat­est col­lec­tions from the sea­son’s cat­walks. Bis­cuits, cakes, mousses and a va­ri­ety of pas­tries are care­fully crafted based on the hottest cre­ations from the world’s most iconic fash­ion de­sign­ers. While the tea is quite un­con­ven­tional, with no scones and an Asian-in­spired starter plate, it’s def­i­nitely a must for fash­ion­istas who want to try one of the more creative takes on tea in Lon­don.

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Clock­wise from top left: Jean Georges’ af­ter­noon tea set; The Berke­ley’s Prêt-à-Portea is in­spired by the world of fash­ion; Clar­idge’s iconic 1930s art deco-in­spired din­ing room

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