Are you that person who spots a leaflet for a competition in the post, sighs in frustration about how it made its way to your doorstep, discarding it in the belief that it is a time-wasting con?
Or are you that person whose heart beats to the rhythm of eternal optimism, who trusts in the National Lottery’s proclamation that “It could be you” and who truly subscribes to the view that if you are in it, you may just win it. I fall into the latter category and no amount of teasing from my friends and family has stripped me of that.#Winning – and I finally did!
A couple of months ago, I was lounging around in a fluffy, snow-white robe in Bali when I got a most-exciting tweet from Sunny in London informing me that I had won a competition she ran in conjunction with Zomato UK. And the prize? A 24 Karat Gold Afternoon Tea at the luxurious St James Court Taj Hotel in St James Park, an area of London I called home in my pre-marital life. And so after years of believing I’d eventually win a competition – I did!
24 Karat Gold Afternoon Tea at St James Court Taj Hotel
The first week of January is an atypical time to indulge in afternoon tea. We’re supposed to be blending spinach juice and eating salad and as a result, the Kona restaurant was quiet when I arrived with Pumpkin and my sister.This didn’t deter the staff from making an enormous effort to be courteous and helpful. They knew their menu, gave proactive, helpful suggestions and showed a professionalism and courtesy that impressed me. 24 Karat class was apparent throughout the afternoon both metaphorically with this service and literally, with elegant gold leaf sprinkled with sophistication across the delicacies served. It was hard selecting a tea from their vast array of white, black and green teas, as all sounded tempting in the soggy December air. Between us, we ordered an aromatic, spiced Indian Chai and a sneak peek inside revealed a busy teapot harbouring star anise, orange peel and cloves amongst other things. My mango green tea held a light and fragrant note that floated across the table and evoked memories of fresh mangoes my sister and I ate by the dozen on childhood holidays in India.
Ordinarily at this stage, one discusses the sandwiches but what I loved at this tea was this supreme plate of savoury magic was so much more than that. Aside from the Chorizo, black mustard and Comte sandwich on display, we were also treated to a homemade beetroot bread and minted cucumber pinwheel, egg mayonaise with golden quail’s egg, smoked salmon with caviar on rye bread and a mixed vegetable tartlet. I must admit I preferred this to the conventional sandwich platter, a little fresher and less dense on the post-Christmas belly. (NB, the savoury menu we were served seems to have been updated as compared to the website menu at the time of writing this post so check with the restaurant if you have any queries).
Shortly before embarking upon our sweet treats, they re-affirmed just how classy an afternoon tea this would be with a refreshing marinated plum, thyme and rosemary compote palate cleanser.And then the moment of truth arrived (let’s be honest, when you say the word afternoon tea, it’s really the cakes and scones that spring to mind!). The desserts were nothing short of beautiful, oozing elegance and decadence. An array of mini scones at the base (raisin, plain and chocolate chip), which were irresistibly soft and moist to perfection. I’d have liked them ever so slightly warmer but I’m not sure whether this was because they were brought out lukewarm or whether they were nicely warm and I just spent too long taking photographs! Either is quite feasible!
The desserts included a white chocolate dome with popping candy, a strawberry tart, champagne jelly with raspberry foam and a white chocolate lollipop and last but not least, a mini opera cake, which was more akin to an artistic masterpiece than a dessert (I am so jealous of the talent of pastry chefs!)With over a decade of afternoon teas in London under my belt, I am wary of turning into that overly critical Londoner, no longer capable of being wowed by this quintessentially British experience that I have always loved so much. But when you come across a place that masters taste, presentation, customer service, and quality as well as Kona at St James Court, you can breathe a sigh of relief that it still retains the same magic as it did the very first time.
And as for the gold? Those who can relate to my Indian heritage will understand the significance of gold in the culture. If you attend a wedding, you don’t give a registered kettle or toaster, you give gold. If you are trying to impress your new mother-in-law, you wear gold. And no one but no one will accept silver as an alternative. Now, personally, I’ve never really bought into this gold-phenomenon craze but…seeing it through this new medium, I might just be converted!
Have you found an afternoon tea experience that stood out and impressed you? I’d love to hear about it!
Huge thanks to Sunny in London and Zomato UK for this wonderful prize!
30 thoughts on “A 24 Karat Gold Afternoon Tea at St James Court Taj Hotel, London”
SO. Much. Gold. Leaf….. Amazing!! Congratulations on an incredible win – worth holding out for a prize like that one!! Those desserts really are works of art though..
Thanks Jess! Aren’t they just beautiful?! I’d love to be able to master the craft of making desserts like these 🙂 It was lovely to win, not just because the tea was so great but because it proved that every so often, a little bit of luck can come your way with a competition so it can be worth entering!
I love that you are a believer like me — and it’s so awesome that you won this prize!! The gold is beautiful and everything looks so delicious. I have only been to an afternoon tea once in my life and it was nowhere near as nice as this! I need to get myself to England so that I can have a proper afternoon tea!
Thank you Carolann 🙂 Yes, I’d definitely say I’m a big believer with these things and so nice to hear you are too 🙂 I know I’m biased but London has some of the best afternoon teas in the world so if you do come over here, I’d definitely recommend trying one and of course, it would be lovely to meet you if and when you do make it here!
This looks absolutely amazing! Your photographs are stunning too! What a fabulous thing to win L xx
Thank you Laura 🙂 It was such a delight – it’s always nice to win something but it was all the more lukcy that it truly was so pretty, delicious and unique as far as afternoon teas go!
Congratulations on your win! I love the gold leaf. I ate at Bistro 51 at the Taj recently and am posting a review next week, really enjoyed it
Suze | LuxuryColumnist
Thank you Suze! Gold leaf just looks so elegant doesn’t it?! I’m so pleased to hear you enjoyed Bistro 51 – I left with excellent impressions of the hotel and the food from this tea so really looking forward to reading your review 🙂
Oh my goodness! Beetroot bread and champagne jelly sound oh-so-good! Seems like a perfectly indulgent afternoon Shikha! 😊
Also, congratulations .. What a fabulous prize to win !
Thank you so much Upasna! Yes very indulgent particularly for just after Christmas – the beetroot bread was so different and I’ve not seen sandwiches served in this pinwheel formation before – it was almost too pretty to eat!
I too love afternoon tea and had a very good one at The Grand in Brighton last year http://travelwithkat.com/2014/06/27/the-grand-brighton/
Next weekend I’m starting a month of celebrations for my 50th including afternoon tea at Amberley Castle. I can’t wait and that’s just one of a host of delectable treats in store!
Dieting now in anticipation of calorie overload.
Hehe, I do that sometimes before a holiday – I think of it as the pre-stuffing-my-face diet 😀 Happy Birthday in advance Kat – sounds like you have a wonderful string of celebrations coming up! I’d love to go to Amberley Castle one day – I hear it’s stunning. I remember reading your post about Brighton last year – in fact, I just clicked on the link now to have a look at it before realising it seemed very familiar and it seems I had commented on it back then 🙂
Oh wow. Now that is a prize – nice one for winning it. Everything looks so delicious – especially the cakes!!
Thanks Sophie! Yes, I was so delighted when I got the tweet to say I’d won so now I’m definitely recommending people that it’s always worth a punt! The cakes were so good – I think we just about managed to eat most of them but they were so pretty, we just didn’t want to bite into them 🙂
Looks better than the afternoon tea I had in Arundel last Sunday (which was okay good). But I suppose the price in St. James Court is higher than the £7.50 we were charged.
Oh was that in Arundel Sussex Mette? I haven’t been there but I’ve heard it’s lovely around there. I luckily got this one free thanks to winning the competition but yes, it would definitely cost more than 7.50, which I must say is a real bargain for a proper afternoon tea! Hope some of it was enjoyable at least and thanks so much for reading 🙂
This looks so so good and I don’t just mean it looks delicious but it the actual presentation and prettiness of everything just looks amazing. The gold makes it all look even better and I can only imagine how good it tasted too. This surely has to be one of the best afternoon teas?! Such a fantastic prize to win!
Oh Ayla, it really was! As you say, the taste was amazing but it really had the wow factor in terms of how beautifully presented it all was – it really was like cake jewellery almost! Elegant, sophisticated and glamorous – perhaps too much so as I really didn’t want to cut into any of it but yes yes, I forced myself somehow 😀 It really was one of the best I’ve been to and full marks for creativity and presentation to them – you should try it out one day if you get the chance 🙂
Oh, that looks SO amazing. I love afternoon tea and wish it wasn’t so hard to come by in the U.S.!
Thank you so much Heather! It was definitely one of the most innovative and unique afternoon teas I’ve been to, with such different savoury snacks to normal and such beautiful creations with the cakes. If you’re an afternoon tea lover, you would love all the choice here in London – I hadn’t realised it’s a bit harder to come by in the US – I guess when I’ve been over to the US, I’ve always been so absorbed in all the great foodie finds that you get out there that are difficult to find in England! Grass is always greener huh?!
Oh my, how did I miss this post?? This looks soooo decadent. Everything looks SO good. I only hope that when I eventually make it to London again, you will not mind splurging to have this with me! Because I know that D will never ever go for this. And I’m dying for afternoon tea, and if I’m gonna have it, it may as well be the best!
I ABSOLUTELY will not mind splurging to have this tea with you again Anna – I’m really hoping that you win that competition so that you can come back soon and leave the men behind to enjoy an afternoon tea 🙂 I was amazed by how beautifully presented this all was without any compromise on the taste or service – that’s actually quite hard to find so big thumbs up from me!