Whimsical afternoon tea at Sanderson London
When my friend sent me a link for the Mad Hatter’s Tea at the Sanderson London, I knew I wanted to go. I’ve loved “Alice in Wonderland” since I was very young, and I also wanted to have afternoon tea in London. As luck would have it, we were able to get a late afternoon seating on a Friday before heading to the theater.
It was cool and windy when we took our seats in the hotel’s winter garden, an outdoor area enclosed in a huge tent and warmed with massive heat lamps. The natural lighting, modern outdoor furniture and outgoing staff created a chic and comfortable setting, a world apart from my vision of afternoon tea as stuffy and bordering on snooty.
Our table was decorated with black and white china, each setting featuring a different design. The napkin rings were paper typed with riddles, which got the conversation going and started the fun for our group.
The afternoon tea menus were found by turning the pages of antique books, and our bubbly waiter also explained the offerings and brought three tea bouquets for us to choose from. On the day of our visit, the tea pairings were Strawberries and Cream, Rhubarb with Custard and Mint Chocolate Chip, the latter two appropriate to drink with milk added.
After selecting our beverages, we upgraded to the champagne afternoon tea. The bubbly was brought out first, and once our flutes were empty, trays of food, tea kettles and more champagne arrived.
The refreshments were whimsical and ranged from traditional sandwiches to inventive desserts.
The sandwiches were prepared with different homemade breads and encompassed a variety of flavors, from smoked salmon on rye to egg salad on white bread with a hint of lemon. The eggplant and zucchini quiche had a rich, buttery flavor.
Raisin scones with clotted cream and jelly and olive scones with herb butter provided a pleasant “second course” before we dove into the sweet temptations.
I enjoyed the simple taste and fluffy texture of the marshmallows shaped like mushrooms. The chocolate cups filled with green tea and white chocolate cream looked too adorable to eat but had to be devoured – one bite of the unique fusion of flavors was not enough. My favorite, the paisley-shaped cheesecake, was wrapped in a ribbon of white chocolate, and a mango “yolk” oozed from the creamy dessert.
I washed down the sweets with a mini “Drink Me” vile filled with a tropical fruit blend, much like a smoothie. I was too full to visit the jelly buffet, though several fruit flavors were on offer that day.
The Sanderson provided a non-traditional and delightful afternoon tea experience. We were thoroughly stuffed and ready for an evening in London's West End.
Price per person:
Afternoon Tea: 48 pounds for adults, 35 pounds ages 4-11
Champagne Afternoon Tea: 58 pounds