What are your best memories of British summertime? Is it eating strawberries and cream while watch Wimbledon? Sipping a cool glass of Pimms in the garden or a picnic in the park with smoked salmon sandwiches and a bottle of something fizzy… Well Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane have combined all these evocative memories with the ‘Journey through British Summertime’ Afternoon Tea, paying homage to historical social events and British past times.
It was rather apt that we would be sampling the tea on #thehottestdayoftheyear, and while panic ensued outside that the temperature in the UK had gone above 30, we settled down in the luxurious air-conditioned dining room of the Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane.
After escaping the heat, we were grateful for a cold infusion of JING tea, and the refreshing Silver Needle was just what was needed. Most British people I know claim to be a ‘tea person’ or a ‘coffee person,’ I am the latter. I was raised with parents who adored a good cup of Jo, and I’ve taken on the habit myself. However, I was keen to try JING, one of the world’s finest loose leaf teas, served in the world’s most luxurious hotels and Michelin star restaurants and only sold in best retail space.
Today’s ‘Journey Through British Summertime’ would see us pairing the delicious delicacies, crafted by the Four Seasons fantastic chefs, with a flight of the premium teas.
Just like a fine wine, elements such a terroir, weather and production are vital to the quality, taste and integrity of a tea. And also just like a fine wine, pairing the right tea with food can enhance it greatly.
Our tasting began with the sandwiches; Executive Chef Romauld Feger is incredibly passionate about using high quality British ingredients from the very best suppliers in the UK.
Each sandwich was paired with a different tea in the JING range so that we could enjoy the perfect complimentary pairing. Kicking off with my favourite, the smoked salmon sandwich with fish sourced from Maldon combined with a zesty sweet pea mousse and lemon balm. Along side was a succulent Devonshire crab sandwich with crème fraiche and spring onion. The two fish sandwiches were complimented by Hui Ming Spring, a green tea with floral notes to provide a contrast to the seafood. I usually find green tea too bitter, but this one was so much lighter than other teas that I’ve sampled.
There’s nothing more British in a sandwich selection than the simple English cumber and cream cheese which came alongside a Cheese Ploughman’s with Haford mature cheddar and pickle. The veggie selection was paired with the Silver Needle which is sweet and mellow with cucumber and honey flavours to compliment the sandwiches perfectly.
The classic Coronation chicken sandwich was sourced from the Rhug Estate in Denbighshire and combined with Granny Smith Apple and raisin. The Asian flavours of curry in the sandwich were perfectly combined with my favourite tea from this selection, the lemongrass and ginger. The tea was zesty and refreshing with a touch of spice and warmth much like the sandwich.
Next up were the gorgeous pastries, little specimens of delight, perfectly crafted by Executive Pastry Chef, Loic Carbonnet to reflect the quintessential British summer.
And another flight of delicious JING tea to sample along side them. Don’t you just love the tea ware? The JING Glass is hand-blown by masters using super durable glass, I really appreciated the ‘twin wall’ which keeps the tea hot but without burning your hands.
I’ve never been to Wimbledon myself but I loved the way the chef had recreated a tennis ball made from pistachio and yogurt choux with a cherry compote oozing inside. If you’re not court side but instead watching from the hill with a picnic, the chef has recreated this memory as a strawberries and cream lady finger. I particularly love the touch of the pink champagne pearls shimmering on the top.
The beautifully presented Kona coffee, chocolate mousse and hibiscus jelly is in the form of a hat to bring to mind Ladies’ Day at Ascot Racecourse. This was paired with my favourite tea of the day, a black currant and hibiscus cold infusion which was light yet rich in flavour providing the perfect foil to the rich cremeux of the chocolate cake. The Baba has been infused with Pimms to evoke the idea of a picnic at Glyndebourne Opera Festival as well as fruity flavours of rhubarb, orange and elderflower cream. The cake is matched with the Darjeeling First Flush, a tea sweet with muscatel fruit and honey but with a very slight astringency that contrasts with the sweet baba.
A pretty checkerboard lemon and rose Battenberg cake, topped with a pearled petal recalled the Chelsea Flower Show, as well as floral slice of apricot, organic lavender and bee pollen cake. The two blooming beautiful cakes should be sampled alongside the Li Shan tea, a complex Oolong Tea from Taiwan. The floral, sweet aroma of this tea and the hints of tropical fruit and honey combine perfectly with the two cakes.
I think there would be outcry if we ate a Great British afternoon tea without any scones and these were bought with both options of raisin or plain. I also loved the little accompanying jars and condiments including Cornish clotted cream, lemon curd, Yorkshire Rhubarb, Tahitian vanilla bean and summer pudding jam.
We decided to brave the sweltering heat with a glass of Veuve Cliquot in the Secret Garden located on the Four Seasons terrace.
I was already quite taken with the terrace after visiting for the opening and trying the super refreshing Veuve Cliquot RICH, a champagne served on fruit and ice. Lauren from The Lifestyle Diaries, Lauren from Aspiring Kennedy, Susan from Best Bits Worldwide and I took a seat on the terrace amongst the beautiful floral creations designed by the hotel’s own florist Rosalind Ackerley.
Quite simply the perfect way to enjoy British summertime and the hottest day of the year.
The Journey through British Summertime Afternoon Tea is served everyday from 3pm – 6pm in Amaranto Lounge or outdoors on Amaranto Terrace. The cost is £42 per person or £55 including a glass of Veuve Cliquot. A selection of JING teas is available to accompany the tea.
PIN FOR LATER:
Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane
Hamilton Place, Park Lane
020 7499 0888
Our afternoon tea was complimentary.