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High tea in London?

Hello,
I will be in London at the end of April and I would like us to experience a traditional high tea ( or afternoon tea, not sure what the difference is.) Can anyone please recommend a place? How much does it usually cost?
Thanks!

Posted by
67 posts

emma did a great job but I'll add that in my research I found that the Orangery in Greenwich (attached to the Fan Museum) has a very reasonable and very highly rated afternoon tea service. Seven GBP per person for a basic afternoon tea service is more reasonable than practically anywhere. Of course, you have to buy museum admission (4 GBP), but at 11 pounds total it still can't be beat. Of course, if you weren't planning on visiting Greenwich anyway, then it may not be worth the trip. Its in Zone 2, so probably not that expensive even if you used Oyster card. Note that they serve afternoon tea on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, with only two time slots on Tuesday and Sunday. I'm not trying to make it stressful. Just giving options if it should happen to work with your plans!

Posted by
2023 posts

We enjoyed tea at the Lanesborough but it was expensive. Wonderful atmosphere with piano player and Wedgwood China was used. Sandwiches, scones, and pastries were served on the tiered tray. Champagne and strawberries were a bit extra but worth it. You can look on Google and see menu and prices--also can check on Brown's Hotel and Claridge (favored by the royals) and others to compare. We had tea once at Harrod's and it was cheaper--but served on stoneware rather than china.

Posted by
14454 posts

Other places that have been recommended here in the past are Kensington Palace Orangery, the National Gallery, the Wolseley in Piccadilly Street, the Brumus in the Haymarket Hotel, Liberty's in Regent Street, and the British Museum. Prices were about £17-25 when I was making my list, about 2 years ago.

Just to confuse you more, there is also a "cream tea" which is like the traditional high tea, but without the savories, just fruit, scones, cakes and other sweet confections.

Posted by
81 posts

I enjoyed a very special afternoon tea at the Goring Hotel just two weeks ago. It's the hotel near Buckingham Palace where Kate Middleton prepared for the royal wedding. It was quite expensive, but a fun splurge in such a "posh" environment.

Posted by
991 posts

Emma,
My rule of thumb is to put whatever is thickest on first. Sometimes the clotted cream is very thick and difficult to spread so it goes of first so as not to push the jam off the scone.

Posted by
14454 posts

I put the jam on first, then heap on the cream and beg for more. Jam is jam, but clotted cream is divine.

Everywhere I've had tea, they've been willing to pack up whatever I couldn't finish so I could take it with me.

Posted by
833 posts

I want to second the suggestion of the Orangery at Kensington Palace. It was a really lovely time. Their prices are listed on the website now per person, but when I went a few years ago my husband and I both got our own pot of tea and shared one of the towers of pastries/sandwiches. That made it cheaper not to each have our own. It was something like £6 for each pot of tea and £14 or 17 for the pastries? I may be wrong though, it's been a few years.

Posted by
222 posts

I dropped by the Orangery near Kensington Palace because I'd read you didn't need a reservation (so said Rick Steves) but the Orangery insisted I did need a reservation. Either that or wait in a line for 30 min. I went elsewhere.

Posted by
3319 posts

Kensington Palace Orangery is my personal favorite...you should really make reservations though or you may not get in. They do fill up on some days. If you go to their website you can look for times/days that they have openings. It's worth planning ahead - it's a wonderful tea and a beautiful setting! Not the cheapest in London but not the most expensive either.

Posted by
30 posts

Thank you everyone for all of your great suggestions, I will review them all and look to make a reservation :)

Posted by
714 posts

Other choices are some of London's major department store restaurants such as Harrod's(cost is about 30 pounds) or Selfridges (range of cost depending on whether cream tea, afternoon tea or deluxe tea - 17 to 30 pounds).

Posted by
1010 posts

We have had afternoon tea at Harrod's - twice. It is in their "Georgian Room" upstairs. It is a lovely setting. I read the post where the person went to the "Goring Hotel" for tea. I agree with the post. We had dinner there, not tea. We have friends who stayed there for I believe 10 days and said it was beyond fantastic. We agree the restaurant is expensive, but it is a wonderful splurge.

Posted by
20 posts

I have been wondering about the afternoon tea myself I have a couple of questions. First does the tea come one kind, cream and sugar, what do you wear, I usually am wearing jeans when doing the tourist thing but was wondering if you have to dress up more. Not being a big tea drinker but wanting to experience this but I don't want to look stupid

Posted by
45 posts

I've been looking at some places online to have afternoon tea for my teenage daughter and I. We'll be in London in July. I was looking at the Grosvenor Hotel since it's near our hotel. I'm finding that the dress code for many places says "smart casual." I wasn't sure what that is, but this is what I found on afternoonteaonline.com:

What is the correct dress code?

The majority of venues request that their guests be dressed in 'smart casual' clothing. This is a quite broad definition but usually excludes trainers, sportswear, shorts, flip-flops or anything that could be deemed scruffy. If ever in doubt, we recommend that you contact the venue beforehand to make sure you are wearing the correct attire.

Posted by
4538 posts

In terms of the type of tea I would expect a variety of specialist teas to be available, not just builders'.

Posted by
2023 posts

You can check the websites of all those hotels and see which one appeals to you. I don't think any of the big name hotels-Goring, Savoy, Ritz, Lanesborough, and various others will disappoint . We had tea once at the Orangery and found the tearoom area to be noisy and the tea (no tiered tray) was presented just like a lunch and it was served on plain ceramic type plates--no pretty china--and there was no music.. Go for the splurge since it is not an occasion one indulges in very often. Enjoy London!

Posted by
26402 posts

which order - regional custom.

pronunciation - regional custom, and class (or lack thereof)

Posted by
191 posts

There is a big difference between afternoon tea and high tea. Afternoon Tea will begin sometime between 2 and 4, and is the most formal of teas. (You will definitely want to dress nicely for an afternoon tea.) You will be served black tea (possibly a choice of two -- perhaps plain black and an Earl Grey, which is black tea infused with oil of bergamot, a bitter citrus), and three courses of treats -- fruit, dainty tea sandwiches, and pastries. There will be sugar and milk provided (never cream, which is considered much too heavy for tea), and the custom is to pour the milk into your cup before the tea. Sugar will be in a bowl (God forbid paper packets!), and will either be lumps (cubes) or loose. There will be tiny tongs if lumps, and a spoon if not. Do not put the spoon into your tea! Pour in the sugar with the sugar spoon and stir with your own spoon. (Your teacup and saucer will have a small spoon with it.) The food may be served on a small tiered tray, with tongs to select what you want to put on your small plate. If you choose to wear a hat and gloves, women may leave their hats on (not men) and all gloves MUST be removed before eating!

A High Tea, which sounds formal to Americans, is not. Many years ago, when tea first became available to the masses in England, they wanted to drink it, but had to work all day, and could not stop to enjoy tea (or any meal) in the middle of the day. When they were done in the fields, they would come home, but of course typical tea fare was not enough food after a long day. The lady of the house would prepare a large meal, but it was far to big to serve on a "tea table" (which was a tiered table developed just for serving morning or afternoon tea and the accoutrements), so it was served on the "High" table a.k.a. dining table, and obviously became known as High Tea. High Tea is a working person's tea, and includes enough substantial food to call it dinner. If you opt for a high tea, it will be served around 7:00P, and there will be hot dishes.

If perchance you wish to attend morning tea, it will be similar to afternoon tea, but not quite as formal and no sandwich course, just fruit and pastries. Breakfast tea will be served, which is a combination of two different India teas and a bit stronger, malty taste than tea served later in the day -- kind of an eye-opener.

Hope this helps.

Jan B

Posted by
30 posts

Thank you Jan, that was a very helpful explanation, I appreciate it. I made reservations for afternoon tea :)

Posted by
223 posts

Ana, Jan must have been channeling my mother. She included the entire lecture, except that in a home the hostess never wears a hat. Sit up straight at all times. Make sure your shoes are quite clean.

When you made your reservation, did you happen to notice if one could make a reservation for a solo appearance? I'm trying to cobble together a couple of weeks in London (solo), and your thread was very enticing. I don't want to ruin the fun of others, though.

Sarah