Co-Authored with Elena Murzello, Author of The Love List
There is something to be said about having some good old girl talk about matters of the heart. This can be done in a variety of settings: spas for manicure/pedicures, a shopping spree at a local boutique, egg benny's at brunch, at home with some ice cream watching Netflix or done over cocktails at a local watering hole.
Minus the hangover in the morning, obscene money dropped and some obscure snap chat video(s) that you may want to eventually erase -- you usually feel somewhat better about what's going on or at least gain some insight on things that went astray. I'm not even going to the touch the fact that some drunk texting may have gone on. Unfortunately, those are the messages that you often recall and will have to carry on life acknowledging those messages were sent. Don't despair. There is an opportunity for you to avoid all the messy antics and be able to pour your heart out to friends in full without breaking the bank. It's called afternoon tea.
One of the most underrated settings to have such deep revealing conversations is afternoon tea. You may think that afternoon tea is reserved for pompous elite; although with a tradition that dates back to the 19th century, taking place ornately decorated drawing rooms I can hardly imagine the ladies-in-waiting not discussing something scandalous. With restaurants dedicated to this special service, like the famous Russian Tea Room it's hard not carve out some time for some lady chats over tea and petit fours.
A quick note -- high tea is often used interchangeably with the term afternoon tea. High tea refers to the table height being used to serve (dinner table vs coffee table height) and was a working class meal opposed to an upper class social event in the 18th to 19th century. As it was seen as meal, high tea would encompass hardier food like potatoes and meat.
Afternoon tea service used to serve as a snack at 4 p.m., in between breakfast and dinner -- this was well before people were eating three meals a day. Nowadays, afternoon tea is served anytime between noon to 4 p.m. I find that instead of being a snack -- the portions are large enough to replace an entire meal.
Of course, it's not all about sweets -- depending upon the location, decadent caviars and sandwiches are served. Subtle details change depending upon location. For example, sour cherries are used for a unique sweetener at the Russian Tea Room. Restaurant Cha- An in New York City, serves a seven-grain rice porridge instead of the traditional more traditional scones and sandwiches.
Who knew that tea could be surprisingly filling as well? For those who require some stronger libations -- fancy champagne or rose is a common upgrade. Yet the common denominator is that with all the juicy conversation, warm tea, and rich food -- you will completely sated, if not completely full. Believe me.
The next time you decide to vent to your girlfriends, skip your basic and underwhelming spot and go for the classy and regal; go for afternoon tea.
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The area they serve the tea in is very pretty - a light and airy conservatory of a space and the tea is top notch. My favourite is the Mad Hatters Tea Party afternoon tea - wait for the exploding lollipops which have a touch of Willy Wonka about them! Sanderson London Hotel 50 Berners St, London W1T 3NG 020 7300 1400
Proper Mum territory this, in the loveliest way. The tea is served in a room with plants pressing against the side, and because it's a family-run place, the service is professional yet top-notch. It has all the attention to detail you'd expect from a boutique hotel, and the tea is ginormous. Don't fill up on scones and perfectly-cut sandos because there is a divine desserts trolley that is trundled towards to you at the end. The Athenaeum 116 Piccadilly, Mayfair, London W1J 7BJ 020 7640 3333
While it might be lovely for most to treat themselves to afternoon tea with their best gal pals, for others the gluten and dairy-rich offerings are the stuff of nightmares. Anyone with gluten or lactose intolerance couldn't touch your average afternoon tea with a barge pole, but thankfully Pantry at 108 have changed that. Their talented chefs serve an array of gluten-free sandwiches and superfood savouries alongside gluten-free scones. Delicious desserts (made purely from ground almonds, eggs and using honey) include combinations ranging from coconut and date to blueberry and coco, and can be enjoyed by anyone on a dairy and gluten free diet. Not only is if thoughtful, but delicious. Especially when washed down with one of their gorgeous loose leaf teas or, even better, a glass of Champagne. Pantry at 108 108 Marylebone Lane, London, W1U 2QE 0207 969 3900
Dean Street Townhouse is a fab place to go for high tea, crumpets, fish finger sandwiches or a glass of Prosecco . Or all of the above! The cream tea is incredible. It's got a traditional English set up with wooden floors, big armchairs and beautiful chandeliers. It's great at any time of year but during the summer you can sit out on the terrace and soak up the Soho surroundings. Dean Street Townhouse 69 - 71 Dean St, London W1D 3SE Phone:020 7434 1775
When discussing afternoon tea, it's impossible not to mention The Ritz - the lavish grandmother of high tea.Entering The Palm Court, you'll feel sent back in time - clinking china tea sets, exquisite central flower display, the chattering of voices and a charming resident pianist. But the atmosphere is only part of the charm: with a choice of 17 delicious loose leaf teas, deeply filled finger sarnies and cream scones, you'll be full to the brim. The Ritz150 Piccadilly London 020 7493 8181
The InterContinental in Park Lane has consistently good food and great service - both of which are essential when handing over nearly £40 for afternoon tea. The room in which tea is served is light and airy, and while you're waiting for tea, a long elegant flute of Champagne appears. The 12 Days of Christmas tea is a triumph - it draw inspiration from the song, from Speyside salmon and tiny partridge pies. The desserts are a dark chocolate torte drum (with delicate mini drumsticks), strawberry filled swan-shaped choux buns with raspberry, and a beautiful treacle tart decorated with gold leaf and five gold rings. It sounds like a lot, but it's actually just right - and leaves enough space for the traditional scones. InterContinental London Park Lane 1 Hamilton Pl, London W1J 7QY 020 7318 8747
Barnes is one of London’s cutest neighbourhoods, and Orange Pekoe one of the cutest places to eat afternoon tea. If you’re more of a fancy London hotel kind of person, it’s probably not quite your cup of tea (pun intended), but the sweet interiors, fantastic range of teas and delicious treats ensure it tops best afternoon tea lists all the time. You’re also right next to the Thames so perfectly positioned to walk off your scones afterwards! Orange Pekoe 3 White Hart Lane, London SW13 0PX 020 8876 6070
Perfect for Downton Abbey fans is this Dame Nellie Melba-inspired afternoon tea. Set in The Gore Hotel’s intimate drawing room, the venue is just a stone’s throw from The Royal Albert Hall. Indulge in sweet treats such as peach melba petit pot or peach macaroons, washed down with an exclusive Dame Nellie Melba Bellini. The Gore190 Queen's Gate, London SW7 5EX 020 7584 6601
The Cellarium Cafe is housed in the beautiful 14th century store house of Westminster Abbey, serves an excellent afternoon tea and is frequented by Jude Law. Plus you get to peer at the tomb of Edward III on your way out. Cellarium Cafe 20 Dean's Yard, Westminster Abbey, London SW1P 3PA 020 7222 0516
If stuffy posh hotels make you feel queasy and out of place, then perhaps The Machiavelli is for you. A relaxed afternoon tea with an Italian twist, it boldly trades traditional cucumber finger sarnies for fluffy foccacia filled with rare roast beef or mini Margherita pizzette. And it works. Desserts are bite-sized pannetone-style scones, delectable tiramisu and mini creme caramel. Wash it down with a glass of Prosecco, it’d be rude not to. Machiavelli Kitchen & Dining Room Acre House, 69-76 Long Acre, London WC2E 9JS 020 7240 2125
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