I spotted an interesting piece of news this week. The Houses of Parliament is entering the world of Afternoon Tea. I know, sounds like a gripping movie trailer doesn’t it. Stick with me. Afternoon Tea is not as simple as it sounds. You might be thinking it’s about having a cup of tea in the afternoon. It isn’t.
This ritual is just as complex, long winded and intricate as a Japanese tea ceremony. Although there’s less bowing involved and you don’t have to sit on the floor.
To give you a clue to the complexity here is an extract from the House of Commons press release:
“The chefs have created a tempting array of savouries such as citrus marinated Scottish salmon with cream cheese, lemon curd and chive on a mini bagel, and free range egg mayonnaise with watercress on wholemeal bread. Room should be saved for the sweet course which includes sultana scones with strawberry jam and Devonshire clotted cream, and Valronha chocolate delice. Beverages are a selection of teas or freshly brewed coffee.”
And this is for a tea that costs £19.95 which makes it the budget airline of the Afternoon Tea world. Cheap as chips. To give you an idea of the lengths hotels go to to give their Afternoon Tea the edge I discovered a 24 Karat Gold one recently. During which you drink Champagne with gold in it and eat gold leaf jelly and gold leaf and strawberry tart. Guess what’s sprinkled on top… you guessed it, gold flakes.
Did those brave frontier Americans really push west into uncharted territory risking life and scalp to find gold just so that Brits could eat it? Yes, it turns out.
If staff from top hotels ever gather in Trafalgar Square and have a massive brawl it’ll be who has the best Afternoon Tea that they’ll be fighting about.
Thankfully the Tea Guild (yes tea has a guild) created an awards ceremony 28 years ago to stave off the requirement for fisty cuffs.
The judges follow very strict guidelines, I’m told, covering the décor, the appropriateness of the crockery, staff attitude, tea knowledge, efficiency of service, overall ambience and how the tea itself is served.
Guess who received an Award of Excellence, you’ll be pleased to hear, a Small Luxury Hotel of the World -The Capital Hotel & Apartments.
So there you have it. If you want the very best Afternoon Tea in London don’t go to the House Of Commons, head to The Capital Hotel. Hmm, I’m feeling a little peckish. See you next week!