On my trip to London this summer, there was one item on my must do list. Beyond checking out local shopping spots for the blog, I wanted to experience a proper English tea service. Growing up, tea was an important family tradition that continues today. Part of celebrating special occasions: birthdays, weddings, and baby showers always include a formal tea or high tea thrown by ladies of the family. Over the years, the number of tea varieties, tea sandwiches, and baked goods has gotten a little out of hand (food is love in my family) and I wanted to experience something authentic to return to the basics.
Chose a Location That Sets The Tone
I researched quite a few places and referenced several books to find the right spot that was traditional yet modern. I choose The Ham Yard after reading about it on another blog and seeing that they were awarded 'Best Afternoon Tea' at the prestigious Harden’s London Restaurant Awards 2016 (ahead of other nominees including The Ritz, The Goring and Ting). It was a bonus that the price of the afternoon tea was half of similar options. If you are in the mood for something a little more modern, trendy and PINK, I would recommend trying Sketch.
Enjoy High Tea with Locals
What I loved about the Ham Yard tea was that others in the dining room were locals, not tourists. I actually felt self-conscious pulling out my camera to document the tea. If you book online inquire about the different locations to have the tea, because there are plenty of intimate side rooms for hotel guests or a roof top to enjoy your service.
Pro tip: Explore the specialty tea offering! I got the Bourbon Vanilla that was rich and paired well with the savory menu items. Cocktail pre-tea or post? This was my first cocktail addition to tea. I vote for an arrival drink of champagne or a Cucumber Gimlet to start the party.
During my trip, the hotel was exclusively offering a "Wimbledon tea service". While it was a fun seasonal experience for the sport, the menu was a little cucumber forward for most American tastes. I can't speak to the Ham Yard's regular tea but, it's bound to be a culinary adventure. Don't miss the scones and passionfruit jam.
If you don't have time to enjoy a tea service, consider stopping into Rococo Chocolates and Yotam Ottolenghi's shop. Located on the other side of town in Belgravia, these novelty shops are perfect for an afternoon treat pretty enough to take home. I stopped by for tea and a pear tart after walking through Hyde Park. Both shops capture the inventive whimsy of British cuisine and artistry. Additionally, their preserves, seasonings, and chocolates make the perfect addition to your next tea time at home.