1840 AFTERNOON TEA
Kate Posener steps back in time to enjoy traditional Afternoon Tea
Who knew that afternoon tea was invented and introduced to Victorian Society by The Duchess of Bedford (a friend of Queen Victoria) in 1840 to fill the gap between light luncheon and dinner?! I certainly didn’t.
Keen to capture this tradition, St James’s Hotel and Club’s Michelin-starred chef William Drabble has recently created a selection of sweet treats and sandwiches based on authentic recipes and favourites of Queen Victoria with a modern-day twist. He was inspired by the recipes of Queen Victoria’s Chief Cook Charles Elmé Francatelli who favoured renowned treats such as Victoria Sponge or Lemon Drizzle cakes alongside forgotten delights such as Tipsy Cake, soaked in sherry and served with custard.
And so one dreary November afternoon a friend and I found ourselves transported back in time to sample the delights of the 1840 Afternoon Tea away from the chill and hustle and bustle of Piccadilly.
Comfortably ensconced in the opulent luxury of William’s Bar and Bistro, we were delighted to try a selection of Victorian inspired sandwiches followed by two types of homemade scone, one savoury (Cheshire cheese) and one sweet, both generous mounds and perfectly crusty on the outside but warm and fluffy on the inside. Thick clotted cream and home-made strawberry jam accompanied the plain scones. However it was the miniature cakes that took the biscuit for me! Each an exquisitely crafted little work of art, almost too good to eat. My inner glutton within found it hard to resist polishing off the whole lot. My favourites were the Lemon Drizzle with an unusual touch of fresh mint, the pistachio profiteroles and the Tipsy cake with its own little jug of warm custard.
I loved the pretty blue and white Burleigh china, the style of which dates back to Victorian times too and just added to the authenticity of the experience. A selection of teas from The East India Tea Company are available including Queen Victoria’s favourite, Earl Grey. It was also interesting to hear about the history of the hotel which was formerly a Gentlemen’s Club.
Stepping out into the cold early evening air we half expected a horse and carriage to be waiting for us!
The tea is priced at £40 per person. We stoically resisted the temptation of a glass of Delamotte champagne which costs extra – but you don’t have to!
TRC cardholders get 15% off the total bill for tea Monday to Friday. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS