London’s afternoon tea trade never ceases to amaze me with its reinvention and gimmicks, but recently I was reminded of the joy that a classic, properly put together afternoon tea can bring. Not a speck of novelty in sight, no quirky crockery, our afternoon tea at Flemings Mayfair Hotel with its menu crafted by Shaun Rankin of Ormer Mayfair was all about the fundamentals; fresh sandwiches, light scones, delicious cakes, and well-brewed tea. Pinkies out, ladies and gents, it was time to play make-believe and whisk ourselves back to those bygone eras where teas were always a commonplace and classy affair.
The decor of the Drawing Room in Flemings Mayfair is one worthy of a wide-eyed gaze, and I’m not even ashamed to admit that I may have let out a teeny tiny little gasp we as we stepped in. The walls of the Indian-inspired tea room are beautifully hand painted with scenes from ‘early India’ which contrasted nicely with striking teal seats which just envelope you as you sink into them. We settled snugly into our corner table, one of the best in the house in my opinion, with a glass of champagne and the extensive tea menu.
Do you remember my tale of afternoon tea woe? The story of a girl who used to raise many a teacup, pinky lifted and had enjoyed more cakes than she should care to admit? I told you how it had been a while between scones and how I wished that would change…
Well it seems someone was listening, my very own (The May)fairy godmother you might call her, though she’s much younger and funnier than Cinderella’s, was going to make my wish come true as she kindly invited me to join her for afternoon tea. Then in the coming weeks I started to wonder if perhaps she was actually a genie as my wish was granted twice more and so begins my new tale of three teas, all in one week!
So I move to the home of the afternoon tea, the birthplace of the tradition, and until this point, I’ve only enjoyed one during my time in England. Yeah, I’m shocked too. Especially considering London offers everything from the traditional at the likes of Claridge’s to the more creative at The Berkeley. I went through a period where I seemed to be having afternoon teas all the time- I’ve sipped teas and nibbled at Hippopotamus and Martha’s Pantry in Wellington and even had an extravagant experience at the Burj al Arab’s Skyview Bar in Dubai but lately? I’ve barely lifted my pinky.
Inspired by the Mad Hatter’s firm belief that it’s always time for tea, I decided it was high time for another round of tea and cakes. Feeling like a restless Alice on the riverbank that day, I thought a gloomy Sunday afternoon needed a bit of excitement and decided to take her lead down the rabbit hole and discover what edible delights were in store for us at Conrad London St James’ Alice in Wonderland Afternoon Tea.