Notice the seedy little preposition in the title, separating “afternoon” and “tea”, two words in no need of a divorce. It seemed prudent, however, to point out early on for those who get bored with my introductory ramblings, that this particular event was more than just an afternoon tea. It was a celebration of tea with a tea quiz, tea presentation, tea leaf reading and most importantly, a preview of their new Afternoon Tea, Le Tea en Rose, inspired by the Chelsea Flower Show. The Sofitel London St James is located right on Pall Mall, in the heart of tourist London, the exterior of the Sofitel St James is a an opulent building, one I have walked past many times without clocking on to what it actually was.
I walked into the Rose Lounge, which was everything I would want my living room to be, cosy and homely with a warming pink filter permeating through it. The sofas were the type you could slouch into with a cup of your favourite tea and a shelf full of books that would leave you with a vocabulary flowery enough to mirror the paraphernalia in the room.
There is a charming French femininity exuding from this lounge that makes you feel like you are Marie Antoinette and is definitely somewhere I would take my Mum rather than Pumpkin. I was therefore very glad to find that I would be spending the afternoon feasting in the lovely company of Connie, Kelly and Kristina.
Afternoon Tea at Sofitel London St James
We started the afternoon with a fascinating talk from a representative of Dammann Freres teas, a fine tea company that provide Sofitel with a vast range of enticing options. I was fascinated to learn that some of these tea blends contained up to 16 or 17 different ingredients and that was only going to make our next task even more of a challenge. We were handed three samples of tea, a green, a black and a white tea and equipped with an answer sheet each, we were required to try and guess the excipients in each blend. I was so intrigued to find how different a sense of smell we all have. Within the one blend, some of us could smell only almond, others cherry, in the green tea, some could smell grass, others seaweed. I don’t drink alcohol so always miss out on wine sniffing and I think my nose tried to make up for it here.By sheer coincidence, I had written just a few weeks ago about my obsession with tea and how many tea choices I stockpile at home. As if to validate this, by a rather fortunate fluke, I won the quiz and became the proud recipient of this beautiful box of Dammann Freres teas 🙂The choice of teas were a highlight here and they were happy for us to try a few different flavours throughout the afternoon and the alluring violet macaron tea caught me rather offguard. Dessert flavoured tea? Genius. Ravenous by this point, I finished all my sandwiches but would have preferred a little more filling and a slightly thinner bread to bring out those fillings. The scones which included apricot and sultana were done exactly the way I enjoy them, perfectly crumbly and warm and although the strawberry and rose scented jam won my vote, I figured the lemon curd deserved a fighting chance.I promised myself I would only have one scone but you don’t even need to put your glasses on to see how that one turned out… The brightly coloured pastries came in an array of floral flavours including poppy and hibiscus desserts, an elegant rose macaron and my personal favourite, the mimosa sponge. The emphasis on florals was more prominent in the taste than the aesthetics but since the days I first tried my mother’s Indian desserts with rose flavour and made my first batch of lavender cupcakes, I have always felt that flowers and bakes marry well together. The yellow mimosa dessert was the one I enjoyed the most but it was quite difficult to cut these up to share without them falling apart and there weren’t enough for one each so these are probably not desserts to pack away in your goody bag for later.
Visiting the tea leaf reader
The afternoon ended with a visit to the tea leaf reader. Apparently, I am going to be moving out of London soon (Hmmm….that’s not really in my plans right now….or ever….but I suppose one should never say never.) Apparently, I’m also going to have a black Scottish highland terrier puppy (ummm……I can’t even look after flowers nevermind a puppy) and supposedly my blog will change focus towards discussion of new medicines (definitely not) so whilst I remain a tad cynical, it was an interesting first (and last) experience at having my tea leaves read. And if I do end up in a suburban house in the home counties, picking up the waste product of my badly-trained black dog and no longer writing about my travels, then I shall wallow in humble apology! Has anyone ever tried to read your fortune?
Le Tea en Rose will be held daily throughout this month to celebrate the Chelsea Flower Show and prices start at £30 per person. Disclaimer: I was a guest of Accor Hotels and Sofitel London St James during this afternoon tea but I am an opinionated little cake-eating travel blogger (getting less little with each cake) and all views, good or bad, are entirely my own.