An eloquently presented mid-afternoon treat of tea, fizz, finger sandwiches, scones and cakes is just about as British as things get. Especially on a beautiful summers day in the city. The problem is, finding a good afternoon tea in London for under £50 per head is pretty hard these days. So unless it’s a very special occasion and an afternoon at the Ritz is what you’re after, why not invite everyone round and host your very own quintessentially British high tea this summer. What a way to impress your friends!
Most people take this part for granted, however, I believe that the tea choice is a significantly overlooked part of any afternoon tea (I mean, it’s in the name after all!). Of course, you should start with some good old English Breakfast, preferably served in a teapot (try Portobello Road Market if you don’t have one), however, don’t forget about other classics such as Lady Grey (Earl Grey with a hint of orange) or a nice fruity number such as Mango & Strawberry. These work particularly well if you’re hosting an al fresco summer event and it’s a little too warm to keep the milk outside.
If you want to take things one step further you could also combine the tea element with something a little stronger, and no I’m not talking whisky shots in your English breakfast. Harry Bromptons’ refreshingly sweet peach flavoured ice tea is a deceiving 4% alcohol! Perfect for a boozy afternoon tea in the sun.
In true British style, no afternoon tea is truly complete without a glass of something fizzy. Rather than opting for a classic French Champagne or an Italian Prosecco, switch things up a little and try a bottle of British fizz instead. Impress your friends with your impressive knowledge of the booming British sparkling wine industry and shock them with the fact a drink so delicious and luxurious could have been made no more than an hour outside of London!
Hattingley Valley Wines do a particularly lovely Rosé which has earned this Hampshire based winery several awards within the industry.
My favourite flavour combination at the moment has to be goats cheese and beetroot. Pair these two in your miniature sandwich triangles and you’re on to a winner. Smoked salmon and cream cheese is always a must-have, as well as brie, tomato and basil. Cucumber sandwiches may be slightly plain in my opinion but they’re very British so throw them in too for authenticity. And finally, always have a few ham and cheddar for the fussy eaters.
If there’s one thing you have to make from scratch it’s the scones. They’re simple, quick, cheap and satisfying. Plus there’s nothing better than a fresh warm scone direct from the oven.
As someone who enjoys a spot of baking every now and again, I’ve tried my hand at home-made macaroons on more than one occasion. However, I have never produced anything that even remotely resembled the delicious little French pastries! Out of protest, I shall not be attempting them again anytime soon. Instead, I’d recommend buying some and simply passing them off as your own. Your friends will never know, right!?
The best macaroons in London for me have to be these little beauties from Pierre Hermé, elected World’s Best Pastry Chef by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy 2016, who has stores in Belgravia and Covent Garden, as well as a stall in Selfridges Oxford Street.
Where do I start with this one? If you enjoy baking there’s plenty of amazing recipes out there for you to try, and if not, London is full of world-class patisseries for you to pick some up.
One of my favourite places to go for recipes is the lovely Emily Leary’s blog ‘A Mummy Too‘. She has plenty of mouth-watering cake recipes which are always simple and easy to recreate! (Click on pictures below).
If you don’t fancy whipping up the cakes yourself, pop down to Patisserie Valerie instead. Located all across London, these sweet little patisseries will supply you with everything you need, from lighter fruit tarts to thick dark chocolate sponge cake. The best part is that an assortment box of 4 large slices is just £9.95. Cut each piece into three and vola, you have a selection of cake bites for you and your guests.
(Click on photos to shop items)
Obviously, you’ll need a cake stand to be the centrepiece of the table. Either stay simple with a plain glass or china stand and let the cakes do the talking, or go for something a little more elaborate such as this adorable Alice in Wonderland cake tree.
Don’t forget a gingham tablecloth to give your party that real ‘Great British Bake Off’ feeling.
A little bit of bunting can go a long way in transforming your garden, balcony or even flat into the perfect place for a spot of afternoon tea.