The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea at the InterContinental London Park Lane

Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane. Wellington Lounge.Musical note On the first day of Christmas Musical notemy true love gave to me Musical note a partridge in a pear tree ~ in the form of a partridge pie, washed down with a whiskey/pear/Champagne cocktail. Intrigued? I hope so, because I am about to tell you about a most fantastic Christmas Afternoon Tea in London.

In the past week alone, both Mr. Tea and I have been approached by people seeking a recommendation for Afternoon Tea in London. Without hesitation, we suggested (as we always do) the InterContinental London Park Lane. No surprise there, for readers of this blog already know how impressed I am with the service and tea food at the InterContinental, and I was very excited recently to be invited in to try their Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. And, once again, the experience was flawless.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea

The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea at the InterContinental London Park Lane is the perfect holiday indulgence. The only non-indulgent thing about it is the price.

Executive Chef Paul Bates is a master at creating and crafting a sophisticated themed Afternoon Tea (check out the Wellington Afternoon Tea) and his Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea, based on the English Christmas carol, is an absolute delight!

Eleven Pipers Piping
It is, after all, the season to be merry, so what better way to start a Christmas Afternoon Tea in London than with a tall, elegant flute filled with good cheer and topped with a sprig of decorative winter holly.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea begins with a festive cocktail of Champagne very subtly flavoured with Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or Highland Single Malt Scotch Whiskey and Xanta Pear Liqueur (a nod to the pear tree where that partridge is hiding).

You may be asking yourself, as Mr. Tea and I did, “Whiskey and Champagne?” Trust me, it works and it works fabulously well. Splendid!

P.S. I like to think of the effervescent Champers bubbles as Nine Ladies Dancing:

Festive Champagne Cocktail. The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane Wellington Lounge.

Partridge in a Pear Tree
Once all those pipers and dancing ladies have left the tea table, it is time for some of the rest of the pressies from your true love, and they arrive on a 3-tier server. The gift giving begins with a Mountbatten Estate partridge and morel mushroom pie. The melt-in-your mouth pastry was flaky and buttery, and the warm filling was rich and savory. A starter like this is perfect for a winter’s day Afternoon Tea:

Mountbatten Estate partridge and morel mushroom pie.The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane. Wellington Lounge.

Tea Sandwiches

The tea sandwiches in The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea have been cleverly devised.  To make the most of all those lovely flavours found in tea sandwiches, it is best to eat them in order from mildest to strongest, and it did not escape me that the tea sandwiches here were plated in just that order. It is precisely little things like this that set Afternoon Tea at the InterContinental London Park Lane apart:

Tea Sandwiches. The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane. Wellington Lounge.
Three French Hens
The sandwich course begins with a French hens egg mayonnaise and cucumber in wholemeal bread sandwich. The light, delicate egg mayonnaise was a nice contrast to the crunch of the thinly sliced (but not too thin) cucumber.
Two Turtle Doves
A squab and wood pigeon white bread sandwich is next. I had never eaten squab or wood pigeon before, and found it reminiscent of chicken – but with much more complexity and flavour. It was really, really good and now I wish I had ordered seconds! (Seconds are encouraged by the Intercontinental at teatime.)
Ten Lords a-Leaping
No Afternoon Tea is complete without a salmon sandwich, and The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea version is a Speyside Scottish salmon with ‘Lord of the Hundreds’ cheese in granary bread sandwich. The combination is lovely, the salmon being nicely lifted by the strong, almost Parmesan-tasting cheese. (The unusual name of this cheese, which is made in a village dairy in Sussex, refers to tax collectors who worked on behalf of the local Lords who, during Saxon times, would oversee a region consisting of 100 Shires.)

 

Desserts

Your true love has definitely saved the best gifts for last:

Desserts. The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane. Wellington Lounge.Twelve Drummers Drumming
Dark chocolate torte drum, rolled in crushed walnuts and complete with mini drumsticks:
Dark Chocolate Torte Drum. The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane. Wellington Lounge.Eight Maids a-Milking
A three-milk flan, cranberry and mandarin compote:
Three-Milk Cranberry and Mandarin Flan. The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane. Wellington Lounge.Seven Swans a-Swimming
Swan shaped choux bun filled with Strawberry Chantilly and sprinkled with air dried raspberry:
Strawberry-filled Swan-shaped Choux Buns with air-dried Raspberry. The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane. Wellington Lounge
Five Golden Rings
Treacle tart decorated with gold leaf and topped with a sugar-spun spiral of five rings:

Treacle Tart with Gold Leaf and Five Gold Rings.The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane. Wellington Lounge.

Tea and Scones

We did of course also have [numerous!] pots of tea, and scones.

The tea menu at InterContinental London Park Lane is extensive, but we opted for their Wellington Blend tea because we fell in love with it during our last visit and, well, there was just no question about not having it again. It’s a delicious blend of Assam, China Black, and Earl Grey tea, softened by English cornflowers and mallow blossoms.

The scones, warm and homemade, are served with Devonshire clotted cream and Chef Bates’ renowned Kentish strawberry jam. I am so glad that they continue to use this particular scone recipe. These scones are flawless, the best I have ever had. Anywhere. You can read why I think these are the best scones in London.

 

Service with a smile

As with the last time we visited, the service we received throughout the tea was impeccable. This time, it was the lovely Indre taking care of us. She was warm, friendly and super-efficient and not only explained the nuances of the food to us, but also kept us updated on what was coming up next. She kept us happy with fresh pots of tea, and provided clean plates between some of the courses. She knew the details of everything, from beverage to the food, and although she had other patrons to look after, managed to make us feel as if we were the only ones in the room. Thank you, Indre – it was lovely meeting and speaking with you!

Team leader Linesh also stopped by our table to say hello and check on us. He, too, was so nice and took time out to explain the creative process behind the crafting of this themed tea. It was very interesting. Pleasure to meet you, Linesh.

 

Conclusion

The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea at InterContinental London Park Lane is an exceptionally superior Christmas Afternoon Tea. Food presentation, taste and quality; service; value for money; atmosphere – it simply cannot be beat.

I highly recommend this tea during the holiday season, and urge you to make a reservation as soon as you can. (You could even make it an extra special holiday afternoon by walking over to the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park after you finish with tea, which is what we did.)

 

Booking details

The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea InterContinental London Park Lane is available 1pm to 5pm, seven days a week between 29th November 2013 to 6th January 2014. The price is £38 per person. It could be the best £38 you will spend this Christmas.

Denise LeCroy. The Tea in England blog. The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane. Wellington Lounge

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Succumb to the Crumb [Afternoon Tea Party Box]

Crumb Tea Party in a Box

Crumb, a “cake experience” company in Leeds founded just over a year ago by two young mums, make afternoon tea parties that can be delivered not only to your door, but through your letterbox. Alice down a rabbit hole? Sure. A tea party delivered through my letterbox? I was skeptical, but Crumb have convinced me that they are no Mad Hatter.

 

Crumb Tea Party in a Box

The parcel did indeed fit through the letterbox,
but once opened, what did I find?

 

Five varieties of freshly baked goodies, Crumb Tea Party in a Box

Inside were 20 slices (4 each) of exquisite home baked goodies:
Yogurt Topped Cranberry Tiffin
Chocolate Rocky Road
Nut Granola with Belgian Chocolate
Caramel Shortbread
Strawberry Sandwich Shortbread

 

12 individual sachets of tea, doilies, little flags, and napkins, Crumb Tea Party in a Box

Also included were 12 individually wrapped sachets of fine Taylors of Harrogate Tea, and decorative cake topper flags, plate doilies, and napkins.

 

It's so easy to set up Crumb's Tea Party in a Box

Denise’s Tea-for-Two party, courtesy of Crumb

 

After opening the Afternoon Tea Party Box by Crumb, I set up the little Tea-for-Two pictured above in about 10 minutes – with enough leftover food, tea, and extras to host a second tea party. (There’s plenty of time to plan; the baked goods have a 3-week expiration date.) The sheer convenience of it all makes entertaining effortless!

We work closely with one of the finest bakeries in the region who hand make all of our products to the highest possible standard. ~ Crumb

The slices were fresh, very tasty, and of noteworthy size. I was worried that the generously topped Nut Granola would be too crunchy for me, but it wasn’t – it was very easy to eat. My favourite was the Yogurt Topped Cranberry Tiffin. Superb! (Note: All food ingredients are listed in full detail on the back of the box.)

The Taylors of Harrogate tea selection in Crumb’s Afternoon Tea Party Box is spot on – there is something for everyone: Earl Grey, Yorkshire Gold, Afternoon Darjeeling, Delicate Green Tea, Blackberry & Elderflower (caffeine free), and Orange & Lemon.

 

Detail, Crumb's Tea Party in a Box

Eat me!

 

What would a tea party be without a bit of merriment, and the cute cake topper flags with sayings like Exquisite! Absolutely Scrumptious! Delectable! and Take One!  add just that.  (Can be saved to use on your own treats.)

If there is one thing I think Crumb has neglected in their Afternoon Tea Party Box it is this: their name. Everyone who leaves a tea party fashioned by Crumb will want to remember where it came from so they can order one of their own. A subtle, stylish tone-on-tone rendering of the word Crumb on the little white napkins that come in the box might be lovely.

Not long ago I wrote about another fabulous Afternoon Tea Party Box that can be delivered to your home, but the Crumb Afternoon Tea Party Box is an excellent alternative as – and this is my favourite thing about it – it can be delivered through a standard letterbox.

An Afternoon Tea Party Box by Crumb delivered through their letterbox would be a great way to surprise your mum, your nan, your sister, or your bestie.  Delivered through your own letterbox, it’s a simple way to host an engagement celebration, book club meeting, or chick flick get-together.  And as far as mad tea parties go, the convenience of an Afternoon Tea Party Box by Crumb eliminates all the madness, leaving you and your guests to enjoy teatime in wonderland.

 

 It’s easy to order and pay online from the Crumb websiteCrumb currently have 15 different food boxes (including a Christmas range) varying in price from £15.00-£32.00.  Delivery is free via Royal Mail, first class.

 

I am curious if there are any companies in the United States that offer a quality Afternoon Tea home delivery service?

 

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Bettys is an English tea tradition

Bettys Tea Rooms

You simply cannot  talk about tea in England without talking about Bettys. The story of Bettys began more than 90 years ago with Frederick Belmont, a young Swiss orphan who trained in baking and confectionery in Switzerland and France before travelling to England to seek his fortune. Settling in Yorkshire, he opened the first Bettys Tea Room in Harrogate in 1919 and the combination of mouth-watering Swiss confectionery and Yorkshire warmth in such an elegant setting proved irresistible. Bettys was an instant success and was soon able to boast of ‘Royal and Distinguished Patronage’ on its letterhead.

With six Bettys Tea Rooms across Yorkshire, their own Cookery School (on my Bucket List!), and  now a home delivery service, Bettys has certainly grown over the years but amazingly, it is still run by Frederick Belmont’s family.

I have been a customer of  Bettys for a long time and over the years have probably ordered, among other things, at least a dozen of their adorable Birthday Cakes for delivery to family and friends. These little cakes are real gems, but my favourite Bettys products are those that come available just before the holidays, so I wanted to share with you a few of the ones I like best from this year’s Christmas collection, courtesy of Bettys.

 

Bettys Tea Room Blend

Bettys Tea Room Blend Tea

The boxes and tins of Bettys Tea Room Blend Tea have been updated with a charming new design created by Yorkshire artist Emily Sutton. The illustration was inspired by the Bettys Tea Rooms. The tea is a blend of East Africa and Assam black teas and is served in their tea rooms. It is a lovely, full tea – so lovely that I am already over halfway through a box received only a few days ago. Highly addictive. In a good way.

 

 

Bettys Mug

 

Bettys Mug

Finally! A Bettys mug! I don’t know about you, but I love ‘branded’ tea mugs and this is one of the prettiest I’ve seen. Emily Sutton is the artist and even Mr. Tea likes the design; he said it works for a man or a woman. It’s a nice size (not too large, not too small) and has a thin rim and generously sized handle. Fine bone china, and made in England.

 

 

Bettys Spiced Christmas Tea

 

Bettys Spiced Christmas Tea

I think I’ve tried just about every Christmas tea blend out there, but this one ranks high on my list. Why? Because it’s not so darn overpowering! It is so easy to overdo it with spiced holiday tea but the tea-to-spice ratio with this one is just right. Bettys Spiced Christmas Tea is black tea blended with lemon, orange, and mellow, warming spices. I have been enjoying a mug of this tea late in the evening. It smells as good as it tastes. Available as teabags or loose leaf.

 

Visit Bettys Online to place an order, but I warn you that it is going to be hard to choose because their entire selection is tempting. And if you’re curious as to why they are called Bettys, take a look at the Bettys Story.

 

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