As an Anglophile and mum to a son and a daughter who, in their youth, were talented tennis players, Wimbledon has always held a special attraction to me. The pure Englishness of it all – strawberries and cream, dress code, Royal patronage - is enough to melt the hearts of even those who could care less about the game. And this year the world, and especially we here in England, celebrated with great enthusiasm, the long-awaited and much-anticipated victory by Britain’s Andy Murray.
I may only live 20 miles from Wimbledon, but I wasn’t privileged enough to attend any matches. (It’s on my Bucket List!) But recently, I was privileged enough to attend an event much more comfortable (in terms of surroundings) and perhaps more satisfying than Wimbledon tennis – and that was the Wimbledon Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House, London.
Tea in England readers know that this wasn’t my first trip to Grosvenor House for tea – last autumn, I enjoyed the Downton Abbey ‘Upstairs, Downstairs Afternoon Tea’ at Grosvenor House. It was pretty impressive, and today’s tea was much of the same.
There are so many places in London that do Afternoon Tea – and do it well – so it must be somewhat of a challenge to fashion unique aspects that will make your tea stand out. One of those unique aspects at Grosvenor House is the Tropical Fruit Salad that they serve as an appetizer. I just love the teensy-weensy cubes of fresh mango, pineapple and melon swimming in tangy, mouth-watering fruit juice. It’s a real wake-up for the taste buds, and totally refreshing.
The first course of an Afternoon Tea – the bottom plate on the tiered-server – is tea sandwiches, and Grosvenor House recently changed their service to include two plates of sandwiches. It may be a heavy start for some people, but others will appreciate the abundance. Variety wise, there is something for everyone:
- Smoked Chicken and Tarragon (my favourite that day)
- Cucumber with Mint Butter
- Clarence Court free-range Eggs with Mayonnaise and Cress
- Roast Sirloin of Beef with Creamed Horseradish
- Loch Fyne Smoked Salmon with Cream Cheese and Dill
- Coldwater Prawns and Marie Rose Sauce
- Ham with Somerset Cheddar
The second course of an Afternoon Tea is usually reserved for scones, and at Grosvenor House they offer both raisin and buttermilk. I can tell you that Grosvenor House know how to make a good scone. They are not the most attractive scones I’ve ever seen on a tea table, but they are warm, light, [slightly] crunchy-on-the-outside-but-soft-on-the-inside, and full of flavour. So frankly, who cares what they look like. At the end of the day, taste should overrule appearance when it comes to a scone. (Do you agree?)
And finally, at the point where you are so full you cannot think of eating another bite, you reach the third and final course of an Afternoon Tea – the top plate on the tiered-server – which is the sweets. And the rule is, no matter how full you are, you must eat
all of at least some of them. They are so beautiful and tempting.
The Wimbledon Afternoon Tea sweets included Chocolate and Orange Roulade; mini Victoria Sponge; Pistachio Macarons (to die for!!); Champagne Jelly with Berries (lovely!!); Vanilla Panacotta with Strawberries and Mint (Mr. Tea in England’s favourite); and a Strawberry Opera Gateau. Everything was delicately delicious, but the macarons were my favourite. Confession time: I asked for extras!
I have left out details about the tea beverage itself, but our pots of Twinings tea were perfectly brewed, and served with panache by our efficient and friendly waiter, Mihail.
One detail I do, however, want to share with you are these charming sleeves that contain the artificial sweetener. Don’t you just love them! Until now, I’ve never seen an elegant camouflage for those ugly little pink packets; it’s a perfect solution and one that you could easily achieve on your own tea table with a bit of DIY.
An added bonus to the Grosvenor House Wimbledon Afternoon Tea was the availability of even more cakes and goodies located on a table in the centre of the room. Talk about indulgence!
Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House is a delightful and immensely satisfying treat. The atmosphere is dignified and grand – but the service is relaxed and friendly, and this is one of the things I find most appealing there.
Like the games themselves, this year’s Wimbledon Afternoon Tea has ended. But it’s always teatime at Grosvenor House, and they are now taking reservations for their signature Anna’s Tea – named for the woman who started it all by ‘inventing’ the ritual of afternoon tea: Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford.
Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel, is served from 2pm – 6pm daily in the The Park Room & Library overlooking Hyde Park.
When was the last time you went to Afternoon Tea in London? It’s time to treat yourself! Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House is an experience not to be missed.
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