I adore afternoon tea, having been to a number in the past few years, which I’ve been meaning to blog about for some time in one of my Throwback Thursday posts. I mean, what’s not to love about Afternoon Tea? Lots of sandwiches with different fillings to try, fluffy scones with various toppings, and cakes galore! With the widest range of tea you could possibly ask for! So I was very excited when I was invited to an exclusive preview of ‘Le Tea en Rose’ Afternoon Tea at the Sofitel St James Hotel, marking the arrival of Spring and the Chelsea Flower Show.
The hotel, located at Waterloo Place, is beautifully decorated by French interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, and The Rose Lounge is a tea lover’s dream! As some of you will know, I’m a bit of a Francophile and studied Renaissance France at university, so I was certainly in my happy place!
We were introduced to the Afternoon Tea by Julie from Dammann Frères. The business was established in France in 1925 but has been present in the UK for the past couple of years. They are pioneers of the tea world – in the 1950’s, they created the first modern scented teas, and they invented the Crystal teabag design in the 1980’s, which most of you will recognise today. Dammann Frères now lists over 3,300 blends and original recipes, with more than 130 original teas and 140 flavoured teas available to buy.
The afternoon started with a quiz – we were given three different teas (Genmaicha, Passion de Fleurs and Coquelicot Gourmand) to smell, and try to guess which one was which, what type of tea it was (black, green, white or oolong) and what fruits (orange, cherry, apricot or passion fruit), flowers (rose, poppy or jasmine) and other characteristics (seaweed, grass, almond, rice, biscuit or cereals) it had. This was a lot of fun, even if it did expose my lack of apparent tea expertise!
When it came to choosing a tea to drink, we were each allowed to pick from the diverse range of teas available in The Rose Lounge. I went for the ‘Bulgare’ – a black tea blend of fruits from Europe and rose from Bulgaria, flavoured with raspberry and blood orange aromas, rose essential oil, and embellished with orange peel and flower petals.
We were treated to four different types of sandwiches – beetroot bread with ham and cheese, egg, beef and horseradish, and smoked salmon and cucumber. There were three types of scones; plain, with apricot and with sultanas, served with clotted cream, lemon curd and jam. This led to the age old debate amongst our group of whether you should put cream or jam onto your scone first. We ended up with mixed opinions, although it’s fairly easy for me, as I’m not a big jam lover. So it’s usually cream on cream for me! How do you eat yours? Let me know in the comments 🙂
And then there were pastries. Enormous pastries – just look at them!
There were four available; Mimosa (mimosa mousseline cream, vanilla sponge, grape compote, yellow sponge crumble), Rose Macaron (rose macaron, rose cream, raspberries), Hibiscus (raspberry jelly, mascarpone cream, rose jelly, hibiscus jelly, crystallised rose petals) and Poppy (poppy mousseline cream, vanilla sponge, strawberry compote, pink chocolate spray).
The icing on the cake (no pun intended!) was that we could have our tea leaves read by a psychic – I’ve always wanted to have something like this done, but I was a bit skeptical (despite really wanting it to be real!). I was asked to swill my cup around in front of me three times in a clockwise motion, and then she set about reading my leaves. I won’t go into the details of what she told me (as it was quite personal), but it was scarily accurate!
The staff at the hotel were incredibly friendly and knowledgeable, answering any questions that we had about the teas and food on offer. If you’re thinking of booking an Afternoon Tea for a special occasion, definitely take a look at the Sofitel St James. Le Tea en Rose Afternoon Tea will be served daily between 12-6pm throughout May, from £30 per person.
If you’re keen to learn more, the hotel has a feature on its website, telling you everything you could possibly need to know about Afternoon Tea.
I was invited to this event by Sofitel St James Hotel but did not receive any payment. All views are my own.