luxury afternoon tea

Luxury Afternoon Tea

Because sometimes in life, the finer things are the only way to go!

A luxury afternoon tea in the UK is a cherished British tradition that epitomises elegance and sophistication and one that is often associated with classic British films. It’s often set in grand settings such as fancy hotels, stately homes or refined tea rooms, where you’re offered a blend of posh treats, premium teas and a relaxing vibe. Over time, it has grown in popularity and is now an experience that many seek out, whether for special occasions or simply to savour a piece of British culture.

Here's what you might expect from a luxury afternoon tea:

1. Setting: Luxury afternoon teas are often served in grand hotels, stately homes, or sophisticated tea rooms. Think opulent surroundings, with plush seating, elegant tableware, and often live piano music or a similar refined ambiance.

2. Service: Staff tend to be impeccably trained, offering a level of service that's attentive without being intrusive. Think silver service on a global scale!

3. Tea Selection: There will be a broad range of high-quality teas on offer, from traditional blends like Earl Grey or Assam to more exotic or bespoke blends. The tea will usually be loose-leaf, served in a pot, and accompanied by hot water for refills.

4. Sandwiches: No stale bread to be found here! Dainty finger sandwiches with crusts removed with common fillings including cucumber, smoked salmon, egg mayonnaise and cress and coronation chicken. The bread is soft and fresh, with fillings generously applied.

5. Scones: Warm scones (often both plain and fruit varieties) are served with clotted cream and strawberry jam.

6. Pastries and Cakes: An array of delicate pastries, cakes, and other sweet treats are what really makes a luxury afternoon tea. These could range from macarons and eclairs to fruit tarts and miniature versions of classic cakes like Battenberg or Victoria sponge.

7. Special Touches: Luxury afternoon teas might also include extras such as a glass of champagne or prosecco, an amuse-bouche if you will or even palate-cleansing sorbets! Told you it was posh!

8. Dietary Options: Many luxury venues will cater to dietary restrictions, offering vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or halal versions of their afternoon tea. This isn’t exclusive to the luxury version of an afternoon tea, it’s just the selection of what may be available for a dietary restriction will be more varied.

9. Price: A luxury afternoon tea experience in the UK isn't cheap. Prices can range considerably depending on the location and exclusivity of the venue.

10. Dress Code: Some luxury venues might have a afternoon tea dress code. For instance, men might be required to wear a jacket and tie, and sportswear or casual attire might be discouraged.

Booking in advance is often necessary, especially for the most sought-after locations. It's also a good idea to let the venue know of any dietary restrictions or special requests at the time of booking.

What’s the difference between afternoon tea and the luxury afternoon tea experience?

Before you get your fancy clothes on, gain an understanding of what the differences are between the two!

A luxury afternoon tea is elevated in nearly every aspect compared to a standard afternoon tea. Set against the backdrop of opulent settings, such as prestigious hotels or historic estates, the luxury experience often emphasises meticulous attention to detail, from the impeccable service to the presentation of the food. The tea selection is more extensive and typically of higher quality, often featuring rare or bespoke blends. The food offerings, while retaining the classic elements of sandwiches, scones, and pastries, are crafted with gourmet ingredients and often feature artistic presentations. It's not just about the taste; it's a visual and sensory experience. Additionally, there might be special touches that aren't commonly found in standard teas, such as a glass of champagne or unique palate cleansers. While both versions celebrate the British tradition, a luxury afternoon tea is about indulgence, exclusivity, and an immersion into a world of elegance.

However, a standard afternoon tea offers a simpler, yet still enjoyable, version of this British tradition. You're likely to find it in more casual settings such as cafes, local tearooms, or even as a homemade spread. The atmosphere, while pleasant, is generally less formal and might lack the opulent touches that define luxury venues. Staff service is attentive but might not be as ceremonious as you'd find in a luxury setting.

The tea selection may be more straightforward, often featuring popular blends like English Breakfast, Earl Grey, or herbal options, but these are more likely to be bagged teas rather than loose-leaf. The food is usually hearty and satisfying but less extravagant. You can expect a selection of finger sandwiches with classic fillings like ham, cheese, or tuna, along with scones served with jam and cream. The pastries and cakes will be tasty but may not feature the artisanal flair or exotic ingredients that a luxury afternoon tea would showcase.

While both the luxury and standard versions of afternoon tea include the core elements of tea, sandwiches, scones, and sweets, a standard afternoon tea is generally more about satisfying hunger and enjoying a good cup of tea rather than providing an all-encompassing 'experience.' It's a more accessible way to enjoy the tradition, often at a more budget-friendly price point.

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