The Afternoon Tea, known as the famous British five o’clock tea , is a delicacy and a tradition that you should add to your list if you are planning a trip to London.
It dates back to the 19th century, when the Duchess of Bedford asked her servant to bring her sandwiches and nibbles with her afternoon tea before dinner. Little by little, serving something to eat with afternoon tea became a custom and a good excuse to invite family and friends over for tea, turning afternoon tea into an occasion for socializing.
Today tea consumption in England is still very popular, and the reality is that it is quite normal to drink cups of tea practically at all hours during the day, without any fixed time both at home and at work. But the Afternoon Tea still exists, and it can be something from the most common, such as a cup of tea with some cookies or a piece of cake, or a whole delicacy in tea rooms, with sandwiches and different sweets, as it was in Your day.
What will you find in this article?
- Five o’clock Tea or Afternoon Tea in London: Options to consider
- Cream Tea
- Afternoon Tea
- Where to Drink Afternoon Tea in London: Recommended Tea Rooms
- Afternoon Tea in London in hotels and specialized tea rooms:
- Afternoon Tea in London a little cheaper
- And… not so typical, but a little more special than a coffee shop:
Five o’clock tea or Afternoon Tea in London: Options to consider
Basically we must differentiate two different Afternoon Teas that you will see in the menus:
The cream tea is a good option if you want to try something traditional but a little cheaper than the Afternoon Tea, and definitely the best option for a snack if you have eaten well at midday. Cream tea originates from the areas of Devon and Cornwall, in the south of England, and consists of one or two scones, a kind of sweet bun that can be plain (only) or fruit scone (with raisins), which is he puts clotted cream (a kind of special thick cream from the South of England) and jam, as well as tea, of which there are usually different varieties to choose from. The most traditional teas are English Breakfast Tea or Earl Grey. The cream tea is really worth trying, so I must say: Highly recommended!!!!
The Afternoon Tea proper consists of a selection of finger sandwiches (sandwiches cut into strips) and a variety of sweets served (often including scones ) on a two or three tiered cake stand, obviously with a pot of tea. Normally, in tea rooms or more traditional places, everything is served with plates, teapot and cups made of fine china. It is usually served from 12pm to 6pm, and I wouldn’t really recommend having a full Afternoon if you have eaten well by midday as it can be too much. It is possible to find varieties of the Afternoon Tea, such as the Champagne Afternoon Tea (with champagne) or those that include a cocktail, for example.
Where to Drink Afternoon Tea in London: Recommended Tea Rooms
The five o’clock tea can be had in many places in London, but to have a typical Afternoon Tea and in conditions you have to know where to go, that’s why we are going to give you some tips below.
As a personal recommendation, I would simply tell you that if you want to try the full afternoon tea, go hungry and go to a good place (where you will have to book in advance), because otherwise the experience will not be the same! The afternoon tea in a good place can cost at least 40 pounds per person, while the Cream Tea will always be cheaper, and it is always possible to try the typical scones in more ordinary places, it does not have to be in the best rooms of London tea.
SUGGESTIONS FOR DRINKING AFTERNOON TEA IN LONDON:
- Afternoon Tea with champagne : Enjoy a complete afternoon tea in the luxury rooms of this fantastic hotel in one of the most beautiful areas of London.
- Cruise on the Thames with full Afternoon Tea: The cruise on the River Thames is something that I recommend to everyone who visits the British capital, mainly because it is something that I personally liked the most, so combining the cruise with an Afternoon Tea typical sounds like a fabulous idea. I don’t think that the quality of the food is the same as in one of the luxury hotels, but surely as an experience it must be unmatched.
- Champagne Afternoon Tea at the Hilton hotel : For a spectacular experience I recommend you to have Afternoon Tea at the Waldorf Hilton hotel, in Covent Garden in central London.
Afternoon Tea in London in hotels and specialized tea rooms:
These sites that I name below have been voted as the best places to have an authentic Afternoon Tea:
- Claridge´s Hotel: Voted as the best place to have afternoon tea by The Telegraph newspaper (year 2012), this luxury hotel in London offers a typical afternoon tea with different options in its luxury lounges. For more information you can visit the official website: Claridge ‘s
- The Chesterfield: Hotel located in Mayfair that offers impressive Afternoon Tea, and they usually have a specific theme making it an unforgettable experience. Official website: Chesterfield
- Fortnum and Mason: On Piccadilly Street we find the Fortnum and Mason department store, which you have to enter even if you are not going to have tea! On the ground floor is The Gallery restaurant, where it is possible to have a traditional afternoon tea or a cream tea, on the first floor there is an ice cream parlor called The Parlour , which is spectacular, and where we can have afternoon tea or just ice cream and coffee. On the fourth floor is their Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon , which really is the best place to try their traditional Afternoon Tea, and the truth is that it is one of the places I would most recommend for tea in London. More information: Fortnum and Mason .
- Ritz Hotel: Who hasn’t heard of the Ritz hotel in London? Well, if you’ve always been interested, this is the perfect excuse: Afternoon Tea in the rooms of the Ritz hotel… yes, a slightly different and special afternoon tea (I recommend looking at the menu). Official website: Ritz
- The Berkeley: Without a doubt one of the places to have an Afternoon Tea that you will never forget, known as the “fashionista tea”. The Berkeley hotel offers a slightly different afternoon tea, with sweets designed by major fashion brand designers such as Gucci or Dolce Gabanna… known for being one of the places chosen by celebrities to have the traditional five o’clock tea. Official website: Berkeley
- Sketch London: This fashionable restaurant in the heart of London has different rooms where they offer breakfast, lunch, dinner and the traditional British afternoon tea. Each room is decorated differently with a unique atmosphere, and their afternoon tea is currently one of the most famous. Official website: SketchLondon
- Other places that offer afternoon tea are: Harrods, Hyatt Hotel, Brown’s Hotel, Dorchester, Hilton…
Afternoon Tea in London a little cheaper
In addition to the hotel rooms, there are several tea rooms where you can also try an Afternoon Tea, maybe not as spectacular, but it will always be traditional:
- Camellia´s Tea house: Shop and tea room located in Soho, it offers more than 100 different types of tea and you can have afternoon tea or cream tea. Official website: Camellia’s
- Bea’s of Bloomsbury: CUone of the best known for afternoon tea in London, its rooms are usually very nice and it is quite cheap. They have several locations around London. Official website: Bea’s
- Soho´s Secret Tea Rooms: This is a somewhat hidden traditional tea room, since it is located above a pub in Soho (coach and horses), and to enter you must first enter the pub and ask to be let in ! Here you can read our experience in this tea room: Secret Tea Room
And… not so typical, but a little more special than a coffee shop:
And then I will tell you about some cafes that are a little more special than the traditional cafes where we can have tea or coffee accompanied by afternoon tea.
- Patisserie Valerie: Chain of cafes in London where you can have tea accompanied by very tasty sweets: Valerie
- Caffé Concerto: With some impressive cakes and pastries!: Caffe Concerto
- Le Pain Quotidien: Another possibility, with several in central London: Le Pain Quotidien