When I think of the typical English Tea, I think of fine china, scones, clotted cream, cucumber sandwiches and the old English grandmother. Afternoon tea seemed to have dropped in popularity and isn’t quite the hip thing to do nowadays. However when I visited the quintessential English departmental store known for its teas, the queue to the Gallery Cafe in Fortnum and Mason’s proved that the Brits are still ‘hot’ for their cuppa. Fortunately, the wait for a table was a short one.
Fortnum and Mason’s is very ‘English’ – with the wait staff in starched white shirts and button up vests, the toilets are ‘cloakrooms’ and all guests are addressed as ‘Sir’ and ‘Madam’. It’s not just a tourist spot, many upper class locals are seen enjoying their afternoon with a pot of tea.
The tea menu is rather substantial, at £5 a pot, you get to pick from blends like Earl Grey, English Breakfast or the less common Queen Anne and Lapsang Souchong. The silver tea service gleams on the table and makes the experience of drinking a cup of tea more complete. I was a tad disappointed that the tea cups were not fine china, but at £5 a pot, I guess white porcelain will have to do.
Munchies-wise, you get the specials of the day which was Banana pancake with honey syrup and vanilla ice-cream, toasted crumpets with butter and honey, cake slices such as the Victoria sponge or Butterfly cupcakes. I decided to go for the ‘Reception Scones’ served with clotted cream and jam.
The best way to describe the scone set that I ordered was ‘dainty’. The two scones were smaller than I expected, one plain, one with fruit. The baby sized scones were light and fluffy, the round scoop of clotted cream was thick and rich and the jam, well, it was just jam. Not too impressed with this one I must say.
However, having afternoon tea is delightful with good company. A friend had just returned from a holiday in Greece and we were enjoying our tea with views of Santorini on the laptop. Fortnum and Mason’s is good for buying souvenirs and gifts. Their range of teas, chocolates, honeys and biscuits are to die for – all dressed in F&M’s signature classic styles and eye-catching colours. If I wanted afternoon tea again, I think I will be better off booking a table at The Wolseley.
Fortnum & Mason’s