It was Queen Victoria (a very big fan of champagne herself) who first popularised the notion of “afternoon tea”. Back in the nineteenth century the monarch’s ladies in waiting would practically starve to death in the eternity that passed between the royal lunch and the royal dinner, so some took to making snacks in the late afternoon to keep their hunger at bay. Since the queen herself quite enjoyed this practise the tradition of “high tea” was born and Britons have been celebrating their precious afternoon tea ever since.
Today there are many famous London landmarks that offer their own take on afternoon tea, most usually include sandwiches, scones and cakes served with a variety of teas and the decadent ones offer an optional glass of champagne or cocktails.
Morgans Hotel Group’s Philippe Starck designed Soho oasis The Sanderson has added a magical twist to this recipe by hand crafting an intriguing Alice in Wonderland themed tea to literally change the way we experience this afternoon tradition.
From the moment you sit down at the table all your senses are engaged. A smorgasbord of tasty tricks and treats awaits both the eyes and the palate. The menu is hidden within an old library book next to a selection of small scent bottles filled with different teas (try some rhubarb and custard tea in your personal playing card china tea pot). You’ll find the sugar cubes nestled inside an old fashioned music box and an impressive multi-tiered stand with carrot meringues on edible pea shoots in a tea cup at the top and rainbow coloured sandwiches on the bottom tier.
Even though I’m a total cake and chocolate fiend, to maximise taste and pleasure, I always follow the simple rule of savoury before sweet – so first I enjoyed a judiciously priced flute of Laurent Perrier champagne with my rainbow sandwiches and then proceeded to sample three different teas with my tempting sweet treats to wash all that sugar down the rabbit hole. The strawberries and cream marshmallow mushrooms and the victoria sponge shaped like a clock were both pretty to look at and delicious to eat, but the piece de resistance in this eccentric experience just has to be the three layered “drink me” pannacotta potion in a bottle and the chocolate cup filled with three teas jelly.
Mad Hatter’s tea (GBP35 per person/ GBP45 with a flute of champagne) is bookable every day at The Sanderson but has become so popular, that on weekends Mad Hatter’s tea now starts from 11am. Personally I can’t think of a better place to relax and reward yourself after a shopping expedition along Oxford St. For more information visit www.sandersonlondon.com