Saturday 31 December 2016

Happy New Year From The Afternoon Tea Club

Before the clocks strike twelve and chants of Auld Lang Syne begin, we'd like to take a moment to wish you a happy (and treat-filled) new year.

Whilst we're still waiting on the invention of calorie free cake *fingers crossed for 2017* twenty-sixteen has been an eventful year for ATC in other ways, as we've continued to grow, launched a new site and welcomed lots of lovely friends into the fold.

As ever, we feel incredibly lucky to have your support and would like to say a huge 'thank you' for every like, comment and kind word shared throughout the year.

We have lots of exciting things planned for the next twelve months and hope that you'll stick around to join us. In the meantime though, please raise a glass as we say hello to 2017.

Wherever you are tonight, we hope you have a good one!

Laura & Caroline


Wednesday 28 December 2016

Afternoon Tea at Christmas: The Conrad St James, London

As you can imagine, we’ve indulged in our fair share of Afternoon Teas over the years, some more memorable than others, totting up a shameful amount of scones and macaroons on a near on monthly basis. But on one of our most recent visits, we hit what we believed might be a pivotal point in our tea-sipping ventures - the unshakable feeling of, have we been here before?

Entering the elegant Conrad London St. James earlier this month, we were immediately drawn in by its beautiful lounge seating, twinkling Christmas lights and tall, freestanding, silver tea stands, the latter of which really tipped off our increasing feeling of familiarity. A quick Google and it turns out our suspicions were correct, we had indeed been here before as the hotel had originally served under the Intercontinental Westminster brand, which just happens to be one of our favourite places for tea in London. Winner!

We were there to try Emmeline’s Lounge’s new Winter Solstice menu and the team hasn’t missed a single trick to embrace the theme with warm winter flavours and colour. 

With a glass of G.H. Mumm Champagne in hand, we started with the savoury selection which included a dish of sandwiches featuring beetroot and goat cheese, honey roast ham on cranberry bread, which was delicious and sweet, a classic cucumber and chive creme fraiche, and roast beef and watercress brioche. All of this was joined by fig and blue cheese crostini, smoked salmon and avocado salad served in a small individual glass and finally, our ultimate favourite, turkey, sage and parma ham sausage rolls. There’s so much going on here but all of the textures and flavours fit together well, taking inspiration from classic winter dishes.

Then onto the scones, and we love the way they’re presented still warm and tucked under a napkin blanket. These have also undergone a seasonal twist with toasted pecan and cranberry and orange flavours. The pecan is subtle whereas the cranberry and orange has a real burst of fresh flavour. We couldn’t agree on a favourite between us so we will have to simply say, they’re equally as good and moreish! Plus either could be enjoyed with either St Clements Curd or jam and clotted cream.

As much as you will be tempted to, we recommend not going crazy on the sandwich refills as you will want to save as much room as possible for the beautiful Valrhona chocolate wreath and intertwined sweets that follow. Executive Pastry Chef, Zoe Wager has created a spectacular collection of desserts that carry the dark and rustic tones of Winter through layers of seasonal fruit and chocolate. If, like us, you enjoy a slice (or several) of black forest gateaux at Christmas, you will love the white forest gateaux, plus the double chocolate orange tart was another welcome, and Christmassy-feeling addition for fellow chocolate lovers. The sweet selection also includes a plum, raspberry and almond tart, and a green apple and blackberry mousse.

We’re always completely blown away by the presentation at this hotel and this seasonal tea continues that trend with a sophisticated menu and idyllic afternoon tea serving atmosphere made all the more perfect with soft live music and fairy lights dotted around. There are also so many different types of tea on offer, something which can often overlooked in favour of fancy pastries, and our helpful servers were on hand with recommendations to go with our particular menu which included a wonderful golden loose leaf tea with caramel flavour accents. Prices start at £49pp (without champagne) which puts it on the slightly pricier end of London teas, but trust us, the experience is worth it. If you’re looking for something to warm you up during these cold winter afternoons or a pick me up treat as we move into the January slump, this is where you want to be.

For more information and to book visit:

* Prices correct at time of writing

Whilst we were provided with a complementary afternoon tea for review, all thoughts and opinions are our own!

Tuesday 13 December 2016

Afternoon Tea at Christmas: The Cavendish Hotel, London

Located in London’s central hub of afternoon tea activity, close to The Ritz and Fortum and Mason, The Cavendish London is in good company. It’s also situated along one of the city’s iconic tailoring streets and has taken inspiration from these historic roots for its new “Jermyn Street Afternoon Tea” menu laced with hints of festive flavour. We went along last week to try it for ourselves.

The Petrichor restaurant where tea is served, is a laid back and quiet spot. Starting with a glass of champagne and a huge plate of sandwiches filled with some real winter comfort food fillings and flavours, The Cavendish has done away with the traditional tea stand in favour of serving savoury and sweet separately. As expected, the smoked salmon on lemon and rye bread was delicious but our favourites had to be the seasonal turkey and cranberry, and maple roast ham and cheese toastie (Note: Caroline liked this one so much, she stole mine!).

The sweet portion of the menu is presented in a unique sewing box setting, in keeping with the tailoring theme, which unfolds to fill the entire width of the table. To start there are two mini scones each (one plain, one fruit), the perfect size and served warm along with a good dollop of clotted cream and strawberry jam. 

The pretty pastry selection followed a similarly wintry vibe with a banoffee caramel tart, mini mince pie, dark chocolate and cranberry brownie, chocolate and orange slice and vanilla panacotta with winterberry compote. A good mix of both rich chocolate and fruity flavours and plenty to leave you feeling full. The mini mince pie was a welcome festive touch but the winner for us had to be the chocolate and orange slice filled with cream and topped with tangy orange pieces. 

Tea-wise we went for an extremely non-adventurous Breakfast blend and a coffee on this occasion but there were different tea options should you want to try something a little more interesting!

Overall this is a really nice tea and for £29 pp (£35pp with champagne) it’s much cheaper compared to other tea venues in the area, which is a big plus! Perhaps the side that let it down was the environment, it wasn’t a particularly busy afternoon and whilst we understand that it’s difficult to create an atmosphere with few bodies in the room, the restaurant itself isn’t particularly special and for a tea that prides itself on delivering a themed afternoon tea experience, it’s subtleties are drowned out a little by the room itself which lacks any character. The food is delicious but there is so much competition in the area, I believe more attention to detail in the venue itself to create more of a relaxed afternoon tea lounge experience, would really give this tea the boost it deserves.

For more information and to book visit:

* Prices correct at time of writing

Whilst we were provided with a complementary afternoon tea for review, all thoughts and opinions are our own!


Sunday 11 December 2016

The Afternoon Tea Club Revisits: Bettys, York

As you probably know, I'm a massive Bettys fan, so it will come as no surprise that top of my Winter wishlist for 2016 was to reacquaint myself with their Lady Betty Afternoon tea. So as a pre Christmas treat I headed over to York for an afternoon of indulgence with my friend Caroline. 

If you're an avid reader of The Afternoon Tea Club, then you'll have seen Bettys crop up a couple of times over the years, and if not you can read our latest review again here.

For the most part the menu remains largely similar in style, with a couple of twists which include a prawn cocktail amuse bouche to start and a new seasonal cake variation. However, the most noticeable change comes in the form of a miniature savoury duo to go alongside the finger sandwich selection, which was an absolute treat.

When we visited this was in the form of a traditional Pork Pie and Salmon Roulade, which were delicious. I'm a complete salmon fiend, so this was a most welcome addition and who doesn't like a Pork Pie?

The cake selection as usual was fab and included a decadent Chocolate and Praline Slice, miniature Battenberg and delicious Profiterole Tower (I'm sure that this has a technical name, so if anyone knows leave me a comment below!)

I won't say too much more on this one, because you can read our previous review (linked above). However, I will reiterate that Bettys afternoon tea is definitely one to be sought out next time you're in York - their mix of traditional and modern flavours make them the perfect venue for both celebrations and casual treats alike.

For more information and prices, visit the Bettys website

Have you ever visited Bettys? 
Tell us about your experiences below


Tuesday 6 December 2016

The Great Scone Debate: Jam v Cream

The afternoon tea world isn't exactly known for its controversy, however you can guarantee that nothing will get us riled up quite like the Jam v Cream debate. From social media chats to tea-time discussions, it's perhaps one of our most passionate talking points and something which I don't think anyone will be agreeing upon in the near future.

To investigate this further, we decided to put the question out to our good friends on twitter to see if we could find a definitive answer, and with both Laura and myself falling on opposing sides of this debate, it's fair to say that a lot was riding on the results.

Depending which side of the argument you're on, you might be surprised to learn that a whopping 63% of people who responded were in the 'Jam then Cream' camp, whilst only 37% opted for cream first. As a fan of the Cornish method, I was pretty pleased with this result but with over a third of people still preferring the Devon tradition it's clear that a general consensus on this is still a long way off.

Whatever your preference though, there are some things that every scone connoisseur (or sconnoisseur, if you will!) should know. To help with this, we caught up with Gopi Chandran, Executive Head Chef at Sopwell House, to get his top tips on how best to serve, eat and enjoy your scones. 

Mix it up: "While plain scones are delicious served simply with jam and cream, they can be made even better with some clever additions. A personal favourite are cranberry & orange or gingerbread spiced scones, that are perfect around Christmas time."

The Perfect Balance: "The right balance in your scone is just as important as the order in which you apply the jam or cream. A ratio of 2:1:1 (scone:jam:cream) is the ideal way to ensure you have the most delicious scones."

Nice and toasty : "To have your scones at their best, eat them while they are still warm. This ensures that they are still light and fluffy." 

The Perfect Tea: "It is vital to consider what you wash the scones down with. There are so many delicious varieties of tea beyond the traditional English Breakfast that you may not have even tried before, such as Lapsang Souchong, Assam and Raspberry & Elderflower."

How do you have your scones? 
Continue the debate in the comments below!


Friday 2 December 2016

The Afternoon Tea Club Reviews: The Daffodil Hotel, Grasmere

With lakeside views to take your breath away, the Daffodil Hotel has arguably one of the most picturesque vantage points in all of Grasmere. Recently re-opened after a flood induced closure in twenty-fifteen, the hotel is once again available for afternoon tea bookings. 

As a venue that’s been on my radar for quite some time, I decided to head out there last month whilst on a trip away with my parents!

Boasting one of the largest afternoon tea selections that I have ever come across, the Daffodil Hotel caters for just about every taste preference imaginable. From spicy coronation chicken sandwiches, to smokey cheese scones and crusty mini haddock & onion quiches, this menu has been perfectly imagined to satisfy both traditional and non-traditional afternoon tea lovers alike. 

With a selection of cakes that reaches a grand total of eight varieties including; cake pops, chocolate torte, coffee financier, macarons and viennese whirls, the Daffodil’s tea menu has something for everyone - even non cake lovers!

Although he likes the occasional sweet treat, it's fair to say that my Dad isn't as much of a cake fiend as the rest of the family and whenever we've been for afternoon tea in the past he's often commented on how it'd be great if venues could offer a sandwich and scone selection alongside their full afternoon tea menu. I must admit that I've never come across this option before, but was very impressed to find it listed as 'Light Afternoon Tea' on the Daffodil's menu.

For around £6.00 less than the traditional offering you're able to get all of the savouries of a full afternoon tea and just a touch of the sweet, with a selection of fruit and plain scones to finish - perfect for sugar free friends or anyone looking to cut the calories in the run up to Christmas.

What really sells the Daffodil's afternoon tea is its variety and this is extended into their Christmas offering, which is available exclusively throughout December, including: a Black Bomber Cheese Scone, Mince Pie Macaroon, Spiced Berry Panacotta, Christmas Pudding Cake Pop and a Boozy Cherry Yule Log. Head over to our Instagram profile here to see a picture of what they'll be serving up this December (Look out for the Dark Chocolate & Cranberry Christmas Trees - yum!)

I have to say that I was incredibly impressed with the Daffodil Hotel's afternoon tea and would recommend it to each and every one of you. For the quality and quantity of food available, it offers exceptional value for money, with prices marked at; Cream Tea (£8.95pp) Afternoon Tea (£19.50pp) and Light Afternoon Tea (£13.95pp) respectively. When comparing this to similar hotels both on a local and national scale, the Daffodil definitely fares well - check them out next time you're in the lakes and let us know what you think!

Tea is available from 12pm daily in the hotel's lounge or restaurant.

For more information, gift vouchers and booking, visit the Daffodil Hotel website:

* Prices correct at time of writing

Whilst we were provided with a complementary afternoon tea for review, all thoughts and opinions are our own!


Tuesday 22 November 2016

Meg Rivers Artisan Bakery Review

I quite like receiving mail; letters, magazine subscriptions, coupons (bills are another story) but without a doubt the best thing to have come through my letter box this month was cake.

To our excitement, a little box of treats was delivered by the wonderful Meg Rivers Artisan Bakery, who sent each of us a batch of their popular Mini Megs cake collection.

The bakery is based in the village of Blackwell, Warwickshire and uses primarily locally sourced ingredients to create traditional and delicious cakes, biscuits and tray bakes which can be delivered to and scoffed in the comfort of your own home!

First off all, the cakes arrive in a sophisticated and pretty presentation box and are each individually wrapped to keep them fresh on their travels.

The large Mini Megs selection includes six flavours; two chocolate, two hazelnut, two salted caramel, lemon polenta, cherry, and ginger - a perfect mix of flavours so everyone’s sure to find something they love. For us that was the hazelnut and lemon polenta, baked to perfection and full of texture and flavour, shortly followed by the very chocolately chocolate cake - because who doesn’t love chocolate cake?

We managed to sample all flavours with a little help from our friends - if you were looking for a seal of approval, I think the fact that some of these keen taste-testers were immediately eyeing up the Meg River’s Christmas gift sets, is a good enough indication.

The large Mini Megs set is available to order for delivery for £22.00, which we think is totally worth it for nine quality cakes. Plus we recommend taking a peek at the gift collections for some great gift ideas for your loved ones or yourself - oh it is Christmas after all! - (Laura)

For more info, visit:

We were kindly provided with complementary products for review, but as usual all thoughts and opinions are our own!

Monday 24 October 2016

Charlotte in the City: Cantonese afternoon tea at Le Chinois, Millennium Hotel, Knightsbridge

It’s the unexpected that makes an afternoon tea memorable, and the doughy BBQ pork buns at Le Chinois, served in place of scones, are what did it for me. Stodgy, sweet and much bigger than bitesize they were the perfect half way point treat. 

The creation of 28-year-old head chef Anthony Kong, it's a fusion of classic cantonese dishes and english tradition. Of course, Chinese tea is recommended, but if that's not your thing, a pot of English breakfast can easily be brewed.

Savouries that graced the table included crispy battered chicken, shredded duck spring rolls, and sautéed prawns coated with wasabi - no finger sandwiches here - but if it’s cake that usually calls you to the tea stand, you’ll be left wanting. The freshly sliced mango and mochi cakes (a chewy rice cake with a glutinous filling) aren’t nearly as enticing as a slice of lovely lemon drizzle.

For those unfamiliar with cantonese cuisine, the waiting staff are well versed. They'll explain the best order to eat everything if you ask, which I recommend, as the ingredients and flavours will compliment each other nicely - and don't drown everything in chilli and plum sauce!

Although the environment is a little corporate, the Sloane Street restaurant has the kudos of a Knightsbridge postcode, but without the SW1X price tag – all of this, plus a glass of fizz, is £25.

For more information about Le Chinois and booking, please visit their website

Charlotte Vowden is a travel & lifestyle journalist who is as happy in the mountains as she is sipping champagne and eating cake. Writing for The Sunday Times keeps her busy but she’s always looking for her next adventure or afternoon tea destination.
Twitter: @charlottevowden

Charlotte was provided with a complementary meal for review purposes, however all opinions are her own!
Prices correct at time of review.

Thursday 6 October 2016

The Afternoon Tea Club Reviews: Tower Ballroom, Blackpool

Blackpool rock, The Illuminations, The Big One - there are many things that Blackpool is famous for but perhaps the biggest one, the one you spot first when driving up from the M55, is the iconic Blackpool Tower. Last month, we took a trip to the seaside to visit this historic landmark for a spot of Afternoon Tea. Cue ballroom dancers, finger sandwiches and something called a Wurlitzer.

Tea is taken in the Tower Ballroom where tables surround the dance floor which is in full swing with couples waltzing away to the Tower’s resident organist - a particularly exciting sight for these two Strictly Come Dancing fans! The decor here is spectacular, the details are so rich and ornate brushed with golds and deep reds, it really makes you feel as though you’ve been swept away to a completely different time. 

The tables are already set with blue traditional style wares and guests are allotted an hour and 30 minutes sitting and a choice of teas or coffee to start, we opted for pots of both. 

There’s something so northern about this experience, the finger sandwiches are simple, laid back, “everyone’s favourite” kind of flavours presented alongside a handful of salted crisps, they’re not super fancy deconstructed creations that you might find in a London hotel, but that’s perfect for this place and set amongst the backdrop of one of the most beautiful venues you could ever hope to visit, it’s already got the upper hand. Flavours include a range of ham, beef and cheese - caution, these sandwiches do go quite heavy on the cheese so if you’re not a fan, it’s probably worth mentioning so in your booking for an alternative. For us, we would have liked some salmon or chicken fillings but there was plenty to pick from regardless. 

Sandwiches are followed shortly by a large fruit scone each, accompanied by individual jams and huge dollop of clotted cream and finally a range of miniature sweets including; chocolate tiffin, strawberry and cream meringue, honeycomb and fudge bite, and a fruit tart. It’s a really pretty and balanced mix of cakes, none of which are too heavy, and our favourite had to be the sweet and light meringue.

We left feeling nicely full and ready to go score some tokens in the famous seafront arcades. Overall, this tea is pleasantly informal and there’s a unique atmosphere to be found here, something that remained throughout our visit with the hall steadily full of people. It’s quite magical to think that every weekend, there are hundreds of people spending their afternoons twirling around in a grand ballroom and stopping to partake in something as simple as finger sandwiches and tea. We’re so glad we got to experience it, and highly recommend that you do too. 

Tea for Two is priced at £50. For more information and to book visit:

Whilst we were provided with a complementary afternoon tea for review, all thoughts and opinions are our own!


Monday 3 October 2016

The Afternoon Tea Club Reviews: Claridges, London

Okay, so I'm a bit late with this one, but better late then never, eh?

If I'm honest I couldn't decide whether to post or not, as my photos were all a little dark. However, I've had a play in Photoshop and they're now at a *reasonable* enough standard to share.

So what did I think of Claridges? 

Cards on the table, I was a little underwhelmed. The room and ambiance were both incredible and exactly what I'd hoped for, with chandeliers, squishy armchairs and a grand piano to boot, but there was something a little disappointing about the food. Don't get me wrong, it was nice enough, but for the price I wanted better than 'nice enough' - I wanted the best afternoon tea I'd ever had!

Perhaps I was expecting too much, or perhaps I've been over-exposed to the many more 'experimental' teas out there, but it just didn't rock my world. I'm usually a bit of a stickler for tradition and love the simple classics, however I found Claridges to be almost traditional to a fault. It's hard to explain, but after sampling Cherish Finden's tea at the Langham a couple of weeks previously, I went to Claridges with similar expectations of delicate showcase sandwiches and cakes.

That said, I wouldn't want you to think that it's not worth a look because I actually had a lovely time. The service was prefect, the food limitless and the crockery, some of the prettiest you'll find in London.

I think if you're looking for absolute tradition or a taste of British quintessence at one of the UKs premier establishments, then you can't go far wrong with Claridges!

Have you ever been to Claridges? What did you think?


Saturday 24 September 2016

The Tea Makers of London Review

The popularity of green tea has grown a lot over the last few years and it seems as though no desk snack draw is complete without a loose leaf pick me up. Famed for its supposed healing properties and skincare benefits, the choice of brands and flavours is vast and forever growing. We recently got the chance to try some interesting blends from British tea company, The Tea Makers of London - here's what we thought ... 

The Tea Makers of London was founded by a Sri Lanken tea expert with the goal of sourcing and creating a unique tea experience, or to quite simply “create the perfect cup of tea”. The company kindly sent us three different flavours to taste, each with its own tantalising exotic name: Jasmine Dragon Pearls, Dragon Well and Sencha Supreme.

To start, the packaging is simple but elegant and stamped with ‘The Great Taste Awards 2016’ seal of approval. The large pyramid tea bags are also minimalistic, showing off the high-quality loose leaf tea inside. 

Who wouldn’t want to try a tea with such an interesting name? Christened Dragon Pearl because of the pearl shape of the tea, this artisan tea is made from silver needle green tea leaves and Jasmine flowers which give it a yellow hue. A gorgeous fresh, floral scent that hits you straight out of the box and a pleasant smooth taste.

This emerald green tea is made up of a selection of pan-fried teas and is apparently chock-full of vitamins. This is your all-rounder tea classic green tea, it’s mild, easy to drink, which makes it the ideal kind of brew to just chill out with. A great choice for any time of day as it's not too strong.  

This Japanese blend benefits from 800 years of tea-farming which has led to this unique flavour. This one is a little more of an acquired taste, it’s slightly more bitter than the others and its aroma is quite pungent. However for avid green tea drinkers, we think the heightened sensual experience make it an interesting choice for those after authentic flavour, soaked in a rich history. 

So, have the Tea Makers done their job? Have they created the perfect cup of tea? In the land of green tea, they're certainly in the running and we can understand why they've racked up so many 'Great Taste' stars. 

A traditional choice, but a classic for a reason, our favourite was the Dragon Well flavour, a lovely smell and just the right amount of flavour for a satisfying green tea. If you're looking to try a selection of teas that offer an expansive range of tastes and styles, we would definitely recommend checking out The Tea Makers of London.

To find out more, visit

This post was kindly sponsored by the folks at The Tea Makers of London. As usual all thoughts and opinions are our own!


Thursday 22 September 2016

"Farewell to soggy bottoms" - A sad day in the land of cake

It was just like any other Thursday - I woke up, went to work, sat down at my desk with my first cuppa ready to tackle the day and then, the news presenter on the radio said the words we’ve been dreading hearing since it was announced the Bake Off tent would be decamping to Channel 4 - “Marry Berry has quit the Great British Bake Off”. 

Queue the biggest communal gasp I’ve heard since the leave vote was revealed. Our Wednesday nights will never be the same again.

Those of us who love nothing more than stuffing our faces with an entire pack of jaffa cakes every Wednesday (because you can’t watch people making cake without needing cake) had just begun to accept that fact that Mel and Sue would be no more in the GBBO’s new home and therefore so would classic lines like “They’re sort of the page 3 of drizzle” and “The terror of a soggy bottom has been keeping me up all night” - this latest news is just the very watery icing on top of a very soggy cake. Sob, sob.

Let’s be real, sure we all love our Technical Challenges and Showstoppers but truthfully, GBBO is less about the cakes and buns and more about our weekly dose of light-hearted magic that can only be created by Mel, Sue, Mary and Paul (who is making the move to C4) - it’s hard to imagine that spirit successfully matched across the airwaves. 

In Mary's official statement, she said: "What a privilege and honour it has been to be part of seven years of magic in a tent - The Great British Bake Off. The Bake Off family - Paul, Mel and Sue - have given me so much joy and laughter ... Farewell to soggy bottoms." 

Oh Mary stop, we can't take your loveliness!

Who knows what the future of GBBO will look like - for now I think it’s okay to wallow, just a little, and use this day as an excuse to eat cake in celebration of a great seven years of TV with the Queen of cake.

Farewell Mary Berry, and the Great British Bake Off as we know and love it. 

Laura x 

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