Afternoon Tea


After 7 months of working in London, I finally did an afternoon tea today. And it was AMAZING. I actually tried to do it a Sunday last month, but had no reservation – big mistake! I walked over to The Langham hoping they had some walk-in availability, but no luck… then I called The Wolseley, who said they did walk-ins, but when I was already seated it was 2:30, I realized they start serving afternoon tea at 3:30.

This time, I decided to do it with a little more advance planning (the day before). It was still hard to find a reservation for the time I wanted, and I even got this email from The Sanderson, which has a pretty cool afternoon tea based on Alice in Wonderland:

Hi Jessica,

The first available Saturday is the 19th of December and the first available Sunday is the 8th of November. Weekdays are less busy.

It’s OCTOBER 10TH. Crazy. Anyway, I was able to get a spot at 12:30 pm at The Rosebery in the Mandarin Orange Hotel – I figured if I was going to be paying so much, I’d stuff my face for lunch.


The inside is very nice; the room has a lot of natural light and there are pillows on every chair, which are very comfy. I was seated and then it was explained that there was a list of teas I could try from, and I could switch between any of the teas I wanted. The sandwiches and pastries would come out come out first, and then the scones, and everything was all you can eat. YES!


I started out with a darjeeling second flush tea – apparently “second flush” means it’s harvested in June. It tasted like tea. Later on, I switched to a lychee strawberry green tea, which was kind of interesting. I couldn’t really taste the lychee but I could definitely taste the strawberry.


First the sandwiches came out – these were really good (although they were basically just regular sandwiches). Here’s what they were:

– slow roasted organic chicken and buttered corn
– smoked salmon tartar with creme fraiche and dill
– cotswold egg and mustard cress
– cucumber and cream cheese
– Portland crab and crayfish with asparagus on nori bread
– Wildshire cured ham and heritage tomatoes

My favorite was probably the ham one, and my least favorite was definitely the cucumber and cream cheese – too cream cheesy.


The pastries were pretty good although I decided to prioritize the sandwiches over the pastries. From left to right:

– The Pan Charm – green tea and lemon choux bun
– Imagination Pie – strawberry mousse and clotted cream cremeux
– In the Clouds – blackberry, lemon, and vanilla entremet
– Blackbeard’s Cannonball – milk chocolate mousse with caramelized banana
– Mermaid Macaron – vanilla yogurt ganache

I found it hilarious that these desserts had proper names. I finished the green tea thing and the macaron, and they were all good enough to finish eating if I weren’t so full at this point.


The black velvet cake (chocolate and ginger) and The Jolly Rodger (pineapple and coconut) were just ok – I actually preferred the black velvet one without the icing (it was really easy to take off).

I was so full by the time the scones came out, so I only ate half of one. I don’t think I really missed out much though, they were basically just dense biscuits (like American biscuits, not British cookie “biscuits”). One was plain and one had golden raisins.

In the end, I ate 14 tiny sandwiches, two pastries, half of three pastries, two cakes, and half a scone. I’d say it’s definitely worth it for the experience, but not for the food, since it was £48 plus a service charge – it’s almost embarrassing to admit that I paid this much for this. Sitting next to me was a group of 6 posh, attractive 30-something Londoners; I can only hope that at that point in my life I’d be ok with doing the occasional afternoon tea to catch up with my friends!


One response to “Afternoon Tea

  1. Yeah… I don’t understand the whole cucumber sandwich thing either! I don’t know if the English started it or what, but it’s a common thing now for tea parties.

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