I have gone to great lengths for a cup of tea before, but never have I spent over an hour traversing London for the promise of the perfect brew. My journey involved three tube changes, a brisk ten minute walk past some quirky art, a right turn at the ‘halo’, a left turn somewhere else along the way whilst keeping an eye out for wooden decking and pot plants. My palms are getting sweaty just thinking about it now… I am directionally-challenged, I got a little lost, and ironically, I could have really done with a cup of tea.
When I finally arrived at Tea Studio there was no tsk-tsking at my tardiness, just a warm welcome from Kyle, a passionate tea connoisseur and my teacher for the evening’s Tea Brewing Masterclass. Oh yes, you can be a master at brewing tea… something which I definitely am not. Not by a certain someone’s standards (he claims my efforts are too weak) and as I learnt, not by Kyle’s standards either.
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.
On a blustery, wet Wellington day I channelled my most lady-like self for a lunch time escapade to Martha’s Pantry with some lovely ladies I work with. As soon as we walked in, all the pretty things made me forget the horrid weather and suddenly I was 5 again, setting up for a tea party. Martha’s Pantry is a wonderful assortment of delicate tea sets, knitted tea cosies, and even embroidered tablecloths… some of it is so kitschy but I have a feeling that’s the look they were going for.