From dinky sandwiches to scones piled high with jam and cream, it’s hard to beat the indulgence of traditional afternoon tea. But what if you get scone fatigue and fancy something different? These London restaurants have given the British classic an international makeover and the results are totally delicious. Here are five globe-trotting teas to try in London.
At this new restaurant in Victoria, chef Helena Puolakka and her team have given traditional afternoon tea a Nordic twist. For £20 per person, you can enjoy savoury treats like Atlantic prawn skagen on sourdough and pork rolls with aquavit mustard, followed by cinnamon knots, blueberry pie, and lingonberry macaroons. You can add a glass of fizz for an extra £7 or try one of their signature cocktails. We like the Aster Martini, a blend of vanilla vodka, passion fruit puree and lingonberry jam, topped with sparkling wine foam.
At Vivek Singh’s new restaurant, Cinnamon Bazaar, they’ve swapped dainty sandwiches for chaat – a savoury Indian street food snack. Visit between 3pm and 5.30pm and Chamiya, their new chaat cart, will roll up to your table so you can build your own chaat with tangy sauces, chutneys, fresh veggies and crispy chickpea vermicelli. Alternatively, try two of the restaurant’s most popular hot chaats as part of their Trader’s High Tea, priced at £30 for two people. Unwind with a pot of JING tea or masala chai and snack on tandoori chicken and chutney sandwiches, carrot halwa rolls, and dark chocolate and walnut cake. The restaurant is in the heart of Covent Garden – perfect if you’re heading to the theatre or doing some shopping in the piazza.
Jason Atherton’s izakaya-style restaurant in Clerkenwell serves a unique take on afternoon tea that’s inspired by Japanese tea ceremonies and wagashi (confectionary). Guests can choose from a selection of Japanese teas and then enjoy savoury bites like salmon temaki and a savoury monaka (a crisp wafer that is usually sweet) topped with fresh tuna sashimi. The sweet selection is even more impressive, from the matcha iced fingers to the fish-shaped rhubarb taiyaki that’s almost too cute to eat. The tea is priced at £28 per person (with tea) or £35 with a choice of sparkling cocktail.
At The Royal Exchange, head chef Piero Leone has also taken inspiration from Japan and created a Cherry Blossom afternoon tea that’s perfect for spring. Priced at £20 per person, it includes miso egg and watercress sandwiches, chicken teriyaki buns, mango tart, and matcha green tea and strawberry trifle. If you fancy something stronger than tea, there are Japanese-inspired cocktails like the Matcha Martini and a refreshing Yuzu Spritz to choose from. The Cherry Blossom tea is available Monday to Friday from 3-5pm until 30th June.
In South Kensington, CERU have taken the quintessentially British tradition and transformed it with the flavours of the coastal eastern Mediterranean. Priced at £19 (or £25 with a glass of Champagne), it begins with tea of your choice and Turkish brioche-style sandwiches filled with spice roasted lamb shoulder; creamed feta, lemon, and pickled cucumber; and coronation chicken with sumac. If you like scones piled high with clotted cream, wait until you try them with sweet labneh and CERU’s homemade barberry, cranberry and rose jam. Not a scone fan? No problem – try the sweet and sticky pistachio baklava or a carrot and cardamom cupcake. Afternoon tea is served daily from 3pm to 4.30pm – perfect after a morning of exploring the nearby Science Museum or Natural History Museum.