Let them drink tea

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The traditions of having afternoon tea and high tea are deeply rooted in England. Historically, Afternoon Tea is very common among the ladies in social occasions, while High Tea is originally a working class meal served at the end of the workday. However, as time passes by, it becomes more of a social gathering where everyone can enjoy savory food, scones and cakes along with a set of tea. I booked a table for two at Fortnum and Mason’s The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon a few days in advance and I was very much anticipating my first visit there. Unfortunately, the real experience did not live up to my expectations. Upon our arrival, my friend and I were a bit lost and didn’t know the direction to the Tea Salon. So I asked help from one of the staff and he didn’t look happy when I went up to him. Maybe he was on his way to do something important and the look on his face was just “I wish you asked someone else for help”. And this is my first impression of the staff from a bespoke British department store. Seriously?

Fortunately, the service at the Tea Salon was better. The staff helped us with coat check and we were seated at a quiet corner of the salon. We waited for a bit before the waiter came to take our order and we decided to try the Fortnum’s High Tea. A set comes with a choice of hot dish, scones, afternoon tea’s cakes and tea. Scones, cakes and tea can be refilled for an unlimited amount.
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Salmon Fish Cake with Tartar Butter Sauce
After a bite of the salmon fish cake, my friend Kurt commented that it tasted so fishy (and too fishy in his opinion) that it felt like there were three salmons swimming in his mouth.
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Lobster Omelette Victoria with Lobster Bisque and Shaved Truffle

I chose the Lobster Omelette because it sounds soooo appealing. The omelette is filled full of lobster, and in my opinion, a bit too much and it’s quite heavy. I didn’t manage to finish it since I wanted to leave some space in my tummy for the cakes and scones.
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For the tea, I started with Smoky Earl Grey and that was probably the most manly tea I’ve ever had in my life. This blend is created with a request for a smokier Earl Grey from the Palace, combining bergamot with a touch of Lapsang and Gunpowder tea. I took a sip and the smokiness just left me pretty much speechless. This is definitely not your day-to-day Earl Grey, it’s much stronger and very masculine since it has a very smoky taste. I switched to another tea after a cup of it. Since tea is unlimited to order and refill, I tried a few more: Fortnum’s Royal Blend, Strawberry Black Tea and Jinggu Old Tree Moonlight White tea. The Royal Blend was very smooth and refreshing and the fruitiness of the Strawberry Black Tea was very natural and summery. The taste of the Moonlight White tea was a bit mundane but it helped to balance my palate again after the Smoky Earl Grey.
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The British loves their cakes sweet, and traditional afternoon tea cakes are overdosed with sugar. Even though I’m a sweet tooth, I can’t handle the sweetness of these little pastries. Just imagine having cubes of sugar in your mouth… By the end of the meal, both of us were having sugar coma. Despite being extremely full, Kurt still tried a slice of strawberry vanilla cake from the Coronation Cake Carriage. An applause for the travel writer! DSC_0070
Compared with the cakes, I like the scones better. However, the scones fell apart once I cut in half and they weren’t moist enough. The scones made by my aunt are way better than the ones at F&M. The biscuits served at the bottom of the set are nothing interesting, I’m surprised that they serve it in the set since they only remind me of the biscuits that I had during tea time when I was studying in Headington.

All in all, I would not recommend F&M as a place to go for quality afternoon/ high tea. The only thing that I enjoyed was trying as many tea as I want. The pastries were way too sweet to my taste so I didn’t really enjoy them. I wouldn’t go back to F&M for another High Tea when I travel in London next time. But I would still visit F&M to stock up some of their fine tea and other food products (I bought rose petal jelly and rose biscuits upon this visit). On a side note, the dress code of the tea salon “leans more towards elegance” and I felt quite underdressed in my denim jacket and dr. martens since all the ladies were wearing dresses. So if you decide to make a reservation, keep in mind to dress up!

Fortnum and Mason – The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon
Near Piccadilly Tube Station
4/F, 181 Piccadilly
London W1A 1ER,
United Kingdom
Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason on Urbanspoon

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2 Comments on “Let them drink tea”

  1. Eva
    March 19, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

    Unlimited scones, cakes, and tea???!!! :O that kind of make up for its cons haha

    • March 19, 2013 at 7:51 pm #

      yea but honestly the cakes are so sweet that you won’t want to have a refill. And scones are quite filling too.

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