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High Tea - London

r
richmond3005 Mar 1, 2011 03:57 PM

Looking for suggestions for high tea in London in March - surprise for my mother.

  1. zuriga1 Mar 1, 2011 10:03 PM

    You can't go wrong with Brown's Hotel (very swanky) or a more 'laid-back' atmosphere at The Mandeville Hotel. Both have very nice high teas. There are so many choices... everyone has their favorite. Fortnum & Mason do one... Les Deux Salons near Trafalgar Square also has one, too.

    -----
    Fortnum & Mason
    181 Piccadilly, London, Greater London W1A 1ER, United Kingdom

    1. d
      DavidT Mar 2, 2011 09:40 AM

      This topic has been discussed a number of times over the past year or two. I suggest going up to the right hand corner of this page and doing a search for "high tea". You should be able to access many of the prior threads and find a number of helpful suggestions.

      1. t
        Theresa Mar 3, 2011 01:07 AM

        Also - "high tea" is different to "afternoon tea" ...

        11 Replies
        1. re: Theresa
          t
          t_g Mar 3, 2011 01:47 AM

          well... if yr being super traditional they are but i would say theyre used interchangeably in london?

          1. re: t_g
            Pedr0 Jan 5, 2012 12:47 PM

            No, they are not. There is a distinct class division between the two meals.

            High Tea = Fish and chips, shepherd's/cottage pie, kebab, etc. Eaten by working classes around 5-7pm before dinner or going to the pub. Middle class children often have "tea" around this time as well but it's typically something a bit lighter.

            Afternoon Tea = Tea, cakes, cucumber/watercress sandwiches etc. Eaten by the upper/middle classes 2-5pm in either a back garden or front room or tea shop.

            1. re: Pedr0
              PhilD Jan 5, 2012 01:36 PM

              Pedro - not certain I agree with your definition. High Tea is a meal with heavier dishes including meats etc and was a substantial meal that was eaten at an earlier time than dinner or supper but it wasn't just a working class term (and I suspect they just said Tea as they would never have afternoon tea). Many middle class families would eat it with the children before they went to bed, and in upper class houses the high tea was served by the nanny to the children without the parents present. That said it has really passed into history with no-one in the UK really using the term outside tea rooms and hotels. If it included F&C it would be called a "fish supper" and Kebabs are far too modern to be part of a high tea.

              However, these days the hotels in London pitch their teas at the tourist market so they use the terms interchangeably. If High Tea is what the tourists are used to asking for then that is what the hotel will call their afternoon tea.

              1. re: PhilD
                t
                Theresa Jan 6, 2012 03:44 AM

                It's interesting - I was brought up in London in a large, Irish, middle class family. We used to have evening meals in two shifts - the younger ones (up to about 10 years old I think) would have "high tea" at about 6pm, which was a light meal - something like beans on toast or herring roe on toast. Then we went to bed at about 7pm ish. After that, my older brothers and sisters had a larger evening meal with my parents, at about 7.30 after my Dad got in from work. I never saw high tea as being anything as substantial as fish and chips or shepherds pie - that was what the older people had after we had gone to bed - and that is/was called dinner, supper or tea, depending on what part of the country you are from.

                1. re: Theresa
                  h
                  Harters Jan 6, 2012 04:49 AM

                  Go back some years (my particular interest is Edwardian Britain) and you'll find that, at least in the north, folk had their main meal in the middle of the day and called it "dinner". In the early evening, there'd be a lighter meal - sandwiches and cake - which they called "tea". And just before going to bed there'd be a snack which was "supper".

                  I reckon that as working life changed "tea" became a more substantial meal - pie and chips, for example - and to distinguish iit from the fashionable "afternoon tea", which was always a middle and upper class thing, it started to be called "high tea", although, as Phil suggests, I suspect families really carried on calling it "tea" (something I still tend to do if we're having a pie and chips type meal at home).

                  I don't believe I've seen "high tea" being advertised by cafes or restaurants for some considerable time, except in Yorkshire where the tradition still seems to be alive and well.

                  I presume the "high tea" that London hotels offer is marketing it towards certain nationalities of foreign tourists. Perhaps another example of our food culture - there being London and there being the rest of the UK.

                  1. re: Harters
                    zuriga1 Jan 6, 2012 07:17 AM

                    And let's not forget the 'cream tea.' I had never heard of that one till moving here.

                    1. re: zuriga1
                      h
                      Harters Jan 6, 2012 07:22 AM

                      Very much your Cornwall & Devon affair - scones, jam, cream.

                      I have it mind that there's a county difference - in one, jam goes on first and is topped with cream; in the other the order is reversed. Or am I imagining that?

                      1. re: Harters
                        zuriga1 Jan 6, 2012 02:13 PM

                        DH says he's always put the jam on first, but of course he's not from Devon or Cornwall and is mostly an Oxfordshire lad. I do the same and think it tastes great either way.

                      2. re: zuriga1
                        Pedr0 Jan 6, 2012 01:10 PM

                        British Air used to serve tea, scones, clotted cream and jam on flights heading back to the states years ago. Certainly one of the better things I've had to eat in an aircraft.

                        1. re: Pedr0
                          zuriga1 Jan 6, 2012 02:13 PM

                          BA food (and Virgin's too) is always much better going to the States than in the opposite direction. One can only imagine why.

                    2. re: Theresa
                      PhilD Jan 6, 2012 02:54 PM

                      Theresa - I agree that the food at high teas was never very substantial. I recall cold meats and pork pies, but also trifles and other kids stuff. We always had it when we stayed with my dads brother in Birmingham, he was much older than my dad having been born in the 1800's so a bit more old fashioned. The adults then had their dinner later on.

            2. g
              gemuse Mar 4, 2011 06:43 AM

              For a one-time experience, I think I there's a lot to be said for the grander settings for afternoon tea at the posh hotels or the Orangery at Kensington Palace. However, I recently had tea at Cocomaya, and it was quite a decadent spread, so it is worth mentioning.
              http://cocomaya.co.uk/

              It's a small tea/chocolate shop near Marble Arch, and what it lacks in grand atmosphere of the traditional tea rooms, it makes up for with pretty antique place settings with mis-matched china and a dizzying array of sweets, all baked on the premises. There were easily eight different pastries and cakes provided (I lost count), in addition to the standard scones and sandwiches. I thought the sandwiches were just OK (interesting combination of fillings and breads, but a little bland and dry), but the other cakes and sweets were lovely, and it was visually over-the-top gorgeous in a kind of boho way. The room is very intimate and cottage-like, and has a bit of the feeling of being in an Alice-in-Wonderland setting, especially with the endless array of sweets. Depending on what kind of experience you and your mother are after, this might be an interesting option.

              Again, I do like the white tablecloth and silver service of the big hotels, and might prefer that if it was my one and only English tea experience, but this is something a little different and a little more intimate.

              -----
              Cocomaya
              35 Connaught St, Paddington, Greater London W2 2, GB

               
               
               
               
              5 Replies
              1. re: gemuse
                zuriga1 Mar 4, 2011 08:26 AM

                Beautiful pics. How much do they charge for their tea?

                1. re: zuriga1
                  g
                  gemuse Mar 4, 2011 09:37 AM

                  Zuriga1, if I recall, it was £25 per person. We were a group of 5 and could only finish 2/3 of what they served, so they boxed everything else up for us to take home.

                  1. re: gemuse
                    zuriga1 Mar 4, 2011 09:45 PM

                    Thanks. The portions did look sumptuous!! My niece works not far from there, so I'll have to take her along one afternoon.

                2. re: gemuse
                  r
                  richmond3005 Mar 8, 2011 09:45 AM

                  Looks delicious. Do you need reservations or can you just drop in?

                  1. re: richmond3005
                    g
                    gemuse Mar 9, 2011 03:57 AM

                    We made reservations. I'm not sure they are required, but I think I remember someone telling me that they prefer it because the baked goods are made on the premises each day, and they more or less bake to order. The place is small, and I wouldn't think they have a huge amount of turnover every day. My guess is that you are assured of a good spread if you book, and you might have fewer options if you don't, because you'd be competing with other walk-ins to the bakery.

                3. j
                  jbmhill Mar 4, 2011 09:09 AM

                  I'd recommend The Lanesborough Hotel for high tea. Certainly on the pricier side but it is well worth it. Wonderful food and tea, great atmosphere and service, and in a beautiful location.

                  You can view the menu here - http://www.lanesborough.com/pdfs/lanesborough_festive_afternoontea.pdf

                  The website is - http://www.lanesborough.com/#culinary...

                  Whenever I'm in London I try to stop by here for a relaxing afternoon escape. You won't regret it. Also, it's my mother's favourite.

                  1. s
                    sgetraer Mar 6, 2011 09:36 AM

                    Try the Goring Hotel, not far from Victoria Station. It is excellent, the way high Tea should be

                    1. s
                      solarlane Jan 5, 2012 08:51 AM

                      Whoever suggested Brown's for high tea, I was SORELY disappointed, as I went this week based on these recommendations. It was very disappointing! The service was crap, the servers were running around like chickens with their heads cut off, we had to ask for water (cold and hot) refills repeatedly, they left dirty dishes and glasses for a long time before we had to request moving, it took them 25 minutes to get us a check, after we asked 3 different people. The food: the egg salad bland and flavorless, the curry chicken was gross, the cucumbers in the cucumber sandwiches were rubbery, not fresh. The only redeeming thing to eat was the scones, with clotted cream and jam, so basically we paid 40 pound ($75) for 3 scones with cream and jam. The atmosphere was lovely, the piano player amazing, but is it too much to ask to have at least ONE British person serving the British tea? VERY DISAPPOINTING, don't go!!!

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: solarlane
                        zuriga1 Jan 5, 2012 12:15 PM

                        Don't expect to find a lot of British people serving much of anything in London these days - fine dining down to small cafes. I hope you complained to the management about the poor food.

                        1. re: solarlane
                          Dapuma Jan 6, 2012 08:10 PM

                          Sorry you had a bad experience at Brown's - I think you caught them on a bad day

                          I think that the place is really fantastic it was my wife's favorite stop of our trip there (honeymoon)

                          The sandwiches to me were just ok, but all the desserts and scones and jam cream tea etc were very good, i thought the egg sandwiches were decent, and the mrs loved the salmon ones

                          The atmosphere was great, and we had a memorable time

                          In regards to getting a check, no place in europe is in a hurry to move you out of your seat - 10/15 minute waits for a check were pretty normal

                          i would certainly recommend it to anyone looking for a very lux high tea

                          Hi Zurgia - its 75 and sunny here - just thought i would let you know :)

                          1. re: Dapuma
                            zuriga1 Jan 6, 2012 10:11 PM

                            My experience at Brown's was also very nice, but that was a long time ago. I don't think there are many high-end places in London that serve bad desserts/scones etc. for the big 'tourist' teas.

                            I'm a bit jealous of 75, Dapuma, but it's been about 45-50 most days here this winter so no complaints from me. I do miss the sun though. :-)

                            1. re: zuriga1
                              Dapuma Jan 7, 2012 06:56 AM

                              I miss Man Utd winning over xmas...makes me want to spike my tea!

                              1. re: Dapuma
                                zuriga1 Jan 7, 2012 08:06 AM

                                Pluses and minuses... for me, too!

                        2. m
                          meinNYC Jan 6, 2012 08:19 PM

                          There's always the Ritz....

                          1. h
                            Harters Jan 7, 2012 02:54 PM

                            Now here's a good example that I found while Googling for my own trip "dahn sarf".

                            The Swan at the Globe Theatre offers High Tea and Afternoon Tea. Both are instantly recognisable to me as good examples of their genres. The former including sausages, cake with cheese; the latter including sandwiches and "fancy" cakes.

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