These days nearly every week seems to be dedicated to some kind of food stuff. From potatoes to sausages, there’s a chance to celebrate your favourite foods. Yes, many of these are driven by marketing, but it can also be a perfect excuse to enjoy good food and great flavours. One of my favourites is coming up next week: Afternoon Tea Week. From 8th to 14th August, there are lots of opportunities to take part in a tea time experience.
One of my favourites is coming up next week: Afternoon Tea Week. From 8th to 14th August, there are lots of opportunities to take part in a relaxing tea time experience.
Afternoon tea: the history
The genteel tradition of afternoon tea has its roots in the 19th Century as a light refreshment to cover the gap between breakfast and late dinner. What started with tea and sandwiches, gradually became more grand, particularly when Queen Victoria took up the afternoon tea ritual. Scones were also a 20th Century addition.
I love a simple afternoon tea break as it can be an opportunity to take a little breathe in a busy day. The at-home variety is a great way to split up an afternoon when you’ve got lots going on. If you’re out and about, it’s a nice way to catch up with friends. It’s the same reason that the Swedish tradition of fika (coffee, cake and chat) is so appealing.
That said, I do also love the treat of a special ‘high tea’ in a luxurious setting. My all time favourite experience was at the beautiful Cliveden restaurant in Berkshire. We had a very relaxed champagne afternoon tea while looking out over the grand manicured gardens that dip down to the Thames. The food was indeed tasty, but the setting definitely enhanced the experience.
Afternoon Tea Week Highlights
This is the fifth year of Afternoon Tea Week and there are many events happening across the seven days. Last year my favourite afternoon tea tribute was the limited edition range of Paul A Young afternoon tea inspired chocolates. The cream tea truffle was delicious with its cream and jam filling, and crunchy scone crumbs on the outside.
This year many venues are offering discounts on their afternoon team offerings and there are competitions galore. I’ve selected my favourites among the Afternoon Tea Week events.
Handel & Hendrix Afternoon Tea Event at Handel House
The Handel & Hendrix house in Mayfair is worth a visit in its own right. Two musical greats lived at the address, many years apart. It’s one of London’s hidden gems tucked away in the centre of a busy retail area. During the afternoon of 8th August, the house is hosting a special event for Afternoon Tea Week. It includes a guided tour of the house, a harpsichord music recital and a Handel & Hendrix Afternoon Tea designed by Mews of Mayfair. The afternoon tea includes bagels, wraps, scones, sweet treats and a glass of champagne.
Handel & Hendrix Afternoon Tea, Monday 8th August, 3pm – 5pm. Tickets are £65 per person.
Tea Tasting Workshop at The Countess of York
If you fancy something a little lighter, the tea tasting workshop at The Countess of York is a good alternative to a full afternoon tea. What’s even better is that the sessions are free. You can drop in on the 9th or 10th during 11am to 3pm. The tastings will take place outside The Countess of York, which is a restored 1956 Pullman-style railway carriage set in the grounds of York’s National Railway Museum. You’ll get to try a range of teas along with some macarons. You can also book yourself in for an afternoon tea if you want the full experience.
Tea Tasting Workshop, Tuesday 9th August / Wednesday 10th August, between 11am – 3pm. Tickets are free.
Tea Masterclass with Vegan Afternoon Tea at La Suite West
Fortunately these days it’s much easier to find afternoon teas to suit special dietary requirements. Many places now provide a gluten free option if you book ahead. Vegan afternoon teas, however, are not always so common. La Suite West has remedied this, offering vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free and Halal options. For Afternoon Tea Week, it is running a special tasting session in partnership with TeaTime. TeaTime is an online subscription service offering organic, perfume-free and low-to-zero caffeine blends. You’ll be guided through a tea presentation and tasting, accompanied by tasty mouthfuls of sandwiches, scones and cake.
Tea Masterclass, Thursday 11th August, 3pm. Tickets are £35 per person.
Afternoon Tea Masterclass at Cookery School
If you want to get more hands on, Cookery School at Little Portland Street is offering a special discount on their Afternoon Tea Masterclass during Afternoon Tea Week. Bookings of 2 or more tickets will be able to take advantage of a 15% discount. The class covers all the afternoon tea essentials: finger rolls, sandwiches, mini Scotch eggs, scones, Devonshire cream cake and lemon curd tartlets. You’ll get to enjoy the fruits of your hard work at the end of the class, along with a glass of sparkling wine and cup of Cornish tea.
The Ultimate Afternoon Tea, Saturday 13th August, 2pm – 5pm. Standard tickets are £115 per person.
DIY Afternoon Tea Break – at your home
Okay, so this one isn’t a special event, but I thought why not take advantage of the week and create your own special moment? Plan ahead so you have everything to hand. You could invite some friends, get the kids to sit around the dining table with some nice napkins or set aside 30 minutes just for yourself.
Here are my suggestions for setting up your own DIY afternoon tea experience:
– whip up a batch of homemade cookies, scones or chocolate truffles depending on what you most like. If you need some inspiration, check out my chocolate olive rosemary cookies, cardamom Anzac cookies or chocolate truffle recipes
– select one or two delicious teas (maybe treat yourself to something special, including teas you haven’t tried before)
– put out your nicest cutlery, plates and tea cups
– put on some gentle music, sip slowly, chew with focus and truly enjoy your at-home afternoon tea experience.
Visit the Afternoon Tea Week site for details of all the discounts and events