What: Thinking of a theme? Chances are there is a tea for that. London’s restaurants have taken afternoon tea and have been running with it for years. ‘It’s summer? We’ll make a summer tea’; ‘Guy Fawkes night? Stick a firework in a scone’; ‘Let’s add in alcohol, let’s serve it at midnight, let’s make it historical, let’s make it breakfast themed.’ Yep you’ve got to hand it to them, they’re taking the idea and running with it. Anyway, Corinthia’s new afternoon tea is stripping it all back to offer a traditional afternoon tea with no gimmicks.
New? Relatively it only opened in April but with the amount of afternoon teas launching in London I know of at least two that have been announced since this one started.
On The Menu: Before you head to the Crystal Moon Lounge I suggest you go to some HIIT class or if sweating isn’t your thing then pace up and down the embankment for a bit because you’re going to leave this tea full. The menu doesn’t do it justice for just how much food there is. Sandwiches include the likes of cucumber, radish and cream cheese and egg mayo truffle and watercress on spinach bread whilst cakes include an Irish coffee éclair and a lemon and rose drizzle cake.
The Look: The tea is served in the Crystal Moon Lounge, a space that is dominated by a giant moon shaped chandelier, a giant glittering orb commanding attention. The rest of the room is pared back, although still decadent, in comparison. Cream, light green and brown tones and spiked with fuchsia flowers and tables are laid with hand-painted bone china by Richard Brendon. The mirror surfaces of the tea cups reflect the striped patterns on the saucer, giving a more contemporary feel. It’s the perfect place for an Instagram snap as the couple next to us demonstrated, rearranging furniture and draping themselves over the chairs as if they were shooting their own campaign. Great entertainment for the rest of us.
What We Ate: A better question would be what didn’t we eat? Highlights from the sandwich included a take on the Coronation chicken with tandoori chicken and sweet apple and raisins and the roast beef, caramelized onion and wholegrain mustard with rocket. We ordered more of both. If I’m honest we actually ordered more of all of them because who wouldn’t want to keep eating egg mayonnaise with woody truffle and spicy watercress sandwiches with a glass of Champagne?
Scones were excellent, not dry, not too stodgy with just enough crumble to them, perfect with the rhubarb and tonka bean jam. Then it came to the cakes which are inspired by the seasons ad are wheeled out ceremoniously on an ornate, gold cake trolley. Highlights included a chocolate peanut sphere and the wonderful combination of rhubarb and strawberry in a tart. They also wheel out a jar which is filled with sticky, sweet marshmallow curling round the jar like a sugary snake, marshmallows don’t make a regular appearance on the afternoon tea scene, but I liked the little nostalgic touch.
What We Drank: After a glass of Laurent-Perrier La Cuvée Brut we then went on to choose our tea. Alongside black blends, green teas, oolongs there are also the bespoke afternoon blends, blended from Assam, Oolong and Earl Grey exclusively for Corinthia London. The teas increase in strength and range from Aromatic, Mellow to Robust. Go for the Aromatic, it’s lightness and floral notes don’t over power the food. If tea isn’t your thing then you can also have hot chocolate, an extra decadent touch with marshmallows, whipped cream and chocolate splinters.
Go With: Someone who likes to eat and eat a lot. Afternoon tea is always a carb laden affair, so you need to choose someone who isn’t holding back on the carbs and get stuck in.
Final Word: Afternoon tea phases come go, but I’m hoping that the new tea at the Corinthia is here to stay, it’s a classic.
Where? Sitting between Victoria Embankment and Trafalgar Square you’ll find Corinthia at Whitehall Place, Westminster, SW1A 2BD www.corinthia.com