No trip in London is complete with the enjoyment of tea. To be frank, I spend most of my life thinking about tea and consuming it, so I may be a bit biased. But one thing that is wonderful about England in general is that it is assumed that you want milk and sugar with your tea. In the US and other countries, it’s an additional step.
Anyway, I am particularly fond of the tea from one place in London: Fortnum and Mason. It’s a luxury department store where members of the royal family have traditionally shopped (it bears their seals). It’s a beautiful building with a special blue green trimming. There is a clock outside that has figures and chimes on the hour. The Christmas windows tend to be my favorites of the season. Inside, it’s filled with mirrors, gold molding and wondrously luxurious goods. The prices can be luxurious too. For instance, the hats are beautiful for several hundred pounds sterling. However, I find their teas (some teas) to be quite affordable. I’m quite fond of their fruit flavored black tea in flavors such as Peach, Apple, and Strawberry. They also have a lovely Duchess of Earl which is quite tasty.
Fortnum and Mason also has a lovely traditional high tea. It’s a little expensive but I think it is well worth it for the experience. It takes place in the Jubilee Diamond Tea room, which reopened in 2012. I haven’t done it in several rooms but what I remember was wonderful. It’s a beautiful room with white walls and pale blue china. The tea selection is quite refined; I recall teas that I’ve never heard of. You get a three tiered tray with little pastries, glorious scones and clotted cream.
Recently, we tried a more unconventional tea at the Sanderson Hotel near Oxford Circus. We tried their Mad Hatter’s Tea. The Sanderson hotel is a strange building with an brutalist exterior but the interior is delightfully bizarre. The chairs in the bar are white with black eyes on the backs. There is a sofa in the shape of lips, hanging chairs, and a sort of Japanese garden. The tea was incredibly charming. The menu is in a book and you have a choice of four teas. There were three of us so we all chose different teas: Strawberry and Cream, Chocolate, and Rhubarb (not my favorite).
The china was very quirky; it was white with pictures of circus performers. The teapots came with little crowns on top, which we wore through the meal. The sugar was kept in lovely music boxes that would chime when you opened them. There was a three tier tray with delightful treats. There was a little brown bottle with a tag “Drink Me.” When you sipped from its straw, you got different flavors. Extraordinary! There was a sponge cake with a clock face, carrot candies, and rolled up sandwiches. It’s pricey too but lots of fun. Reservations also required.