What? If spring signals the start of hayfever season, then fear not, we have a new way for you to enjoy the English countryside albeit in the form of cakes, because for its latest afternoon tea, the Four Seasons Hotel Park Lane has partnered with Chelsea Physic Garden to create a floral themed afternoon tea, inspired by the famous gardens and their primary benefactor, Sir Hans Sloane.
New? Yes, the tea launched on the 9th April, one of many new spring afternoon teas that we can add to our repertoire.
Where? The Garden tea is served in the Amaranto Lounge in the iconic Four Seasons Hotel Park Lane.
Four Seasons Hotel Park Lane: Hamilton Place, Park Lane, W1J 7DR www.fourseasons.com
On the Menu: The Garden Tea is based around flora and fauna found at the Chelsea Physic Garden and the cocoa that Sir Hans Sloane brought back from Jamaica. After sandwiches and scones, you’ll find pastries created by Executive Pastry Chef, David Oliver including a pastry of rose, orange blossom and jasmine mousse and a cinnamon and cocoa nib biscuit with spiced cream.
The Look: If there’s one thing Amaranto Lounge is not, then it’s subtle. Striking reds, black marble floors, contemporary art in bright colours, bold friezes and striking monochrome carpets make up the look – Amaranto Lounge is opulent and decadent.
What We Ate: We started with classic sandwiches that had been given a twist – cucumber sandwiches with lemon butter; Cornish Manuka smoked salmon with borage, sorrel, cream cheese and cumin bread; cocoa rye bread sandwiched Holden’s Farm Hafod Cheddar cheese and there was a particularly good curried egg sandwich with coriander salad and seeded Vadouvan bread.
Scones were erring on the side of being dry, having been brought out as the same time as the sandwiches. Where some teas excel, is in the fact that they bring out the scones warm after the sandwiches, I am aware that is a very lucky problem to have, but it’s a small point that can make all the difference. Although we particularly enjoyed the pink grapefuit jam made from citrus paradisi and assam tea.
Moving onto the pastries, highlights included a mini beehive complete with edible bees buzzing around the outside, beneath a layer of honey mousse was a honey and oat biscuit, blueberry jelly and honey. Long pepper cut through the dark chocolate tart, adding another layer to the bittersweet cocoa. There’s a very pretty hand painted macaron with wild strawberries and poppies to depict England’s native plants, but unfortunately it was a case of looking better than it tasted.
What We Drank: We started as any afternoon tea should, with glasses of crisp Veuve Clicquot before moving on to a small hot chocolate, which is made following the original hot chocolate recipe that was brought back by Sir Hans Sloane after he made amendments to the drink of cocoa and water that the women in Jamaica drank. You can then choose to have a whole cup of hot chocolate, it’s not as sweet as Cadburys’ hot chocolate (who went onto buy the recipe), but being the first sunny day of the year we chose instead to move onto a light, refreshing white, Silver Needle tea from JING.
Go With: Take a budding garden or your mum/grandma/sister to Chelsea Physic Garden first before heading to Park Lane for beehive cakes and chocolate and long pepper tart.
Final Word: I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon tea, besides the scones the tea hit all the right spots, excellent pastries, fresh bread for the sandwiches and a theme that was apparent without being gimmicky or overboard.
Like This? Try These: Check out our guide to the best afternoon teas this spring.
Four Seasons Hotel Park Lane:
Hamilton Place, Park Lane, W1J 7DR www.fourseasons.com