When it comes to afternoon tea in London, my experience is still pretty limited. But I’m working on it! The first afternoon tea I tried was during lockdown (so I got it brought to my door) and was prepared by The Sketch. A memorable experience I reviewed on this blog.
This time, I made it to London. For a real and complete experience. And I have chosen one that kept its promises: the “art afternoon tea” by Rosewood London. Because not only do I like Food and Art but I love it when they are both combined.
Today, DOYOUSPEAKLONDON is introducing you to the most artistic afternoon tea in town!
The British tradition of Afternoon Tea
There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea. Henri James
Origins of the afternoon tea
What seems to be one of the most important traditions in British society is actually relatively recent, as it was introduced in England by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, in the year 1840.
To make the story short, Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, would become hungry around four o’clock in the afternoon due to her evening meal being served rather late, around 8pm, so she would ask for tea, bread, and cakes to be served to her in the afternoon. It became a habit and she started inviting friends to enjoy this, which made it become a fashionable social event.
An introduction to the afternoon tea
In traditional afternoon tea, you will always find a fine selection of sandwiches, scones served with clotted cream and jams, then cakes and pastries. Everything is accompanied by tea, of course.
And here we are: London offers plenty of afternoon tea venues (with or without themes), each brand trying to differentiate from others. Personally, I was looking for a contemporary and artistic afternoon tea, which lead me to the Rosewood Hotel.
The Rosewood Hotel, London
Located near Holborn tube station, Rosewood Hotel welcomes you in a stunningly quiet (we are in the heart of London after all) and beautiful courtyard with an attentive staff.
I had booked a table for 5 in the Mirror Room, where the afternoon tea is served. We were all impressed by the stylish room with its mirrored wall and the high ceilings with a contemporary luminaire (and I must mention here the comfy sofas!).
Our coats were taken and as we were shown to our table we could take in the special atmosphere of the place.
Let’s be honest, I had never heard of Rosewood Hotel before booking this afternoon tea with my friends, although it has received many awards in all categories: hospitality, cuisine & cocktails, Spa.
Now let’s dive into the reason that brought us to Rosewood London: its exciting Art Afternoon Tea!
Rosewood London’s Art Afternoon Tea
This afternoon tea has been inspired by the current exhibition at Tate Modern: “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Rooms”, which I reviewed on this blog recently.
Once we were served our champagne glasses and teas (we could choose from a large selection of Mariage Freres teas, one different tea at every stage of our tasting, with helpful advice from the staff, really appreciated), we looked at the selection of sandwiches with envy, while the waiter was describing them.
As a tribute to Yayoi Kusama, Executive Pastry Chef Mark Perkins combines here “unique Japanese flavours with traditional French pastry and patisserie”.
Hence the addition of shichimi in the cucumber sandwich and the wasabi cream in the salmon sandwich. Despite the fact these flavours mix very well together, I found these Japanese ingredients could have been more intense to give these sandwiches true originality (but my friends liked them as such, and fans of classic sandwiches might also be thrilled by them too).
In contrast, the Crispy rice cracker, yuzu avocado, and keta caviar and the Chicken teriyaki and spring onion, were absolutely fantastic: the crispy texture of the former and brioche aspect of the latter, and the full flavours and top-quality ingredients in both were exceptional!
Then we devoured the freshly baked scones.
They were served with Cornish clotted cream, lemon curd, and homemade strawberry & elderflower jam. They were perfectly baked, soft to the touch and taste.
And then arrived Kusama’s inspired pastries! The crucial moment when we were all so impatient to discover the colourful and beautifully shaped creations.
We started with the 3 minis pastries: a peach & jasmin macaroon, which I really liked for its freshness and the delicate taste of fruit and flower; the cherry blossom cheesecake tartlet, made of different textures and offering soft flavours; and the amazing caramel & tonka chocolate coupe, impossible to resist with its strong taste. The last one left a smile on all faces!
This is the moment also when you get to the end of the meal and you “can’t possibly” find space for dessert. Well, given the importance of these ones, and our high expectations, we sat back on our comfy sofa, unbuckled our belts, sipped some tea, and courageously tried each of these outstanding pastries!
Certainly the most representative of Kusama’s work, with the pumpkin shape and the dots on it, and a beautiful name, dots Obsession Soul Of Pumpkin. A wonderful creation that may have been quite difficult to adapt as a pastry, I can’t help but admire the result in front of this picture!
The last one, and not the least: Flowers That Bloom at Midnight.
An astounding trio of sophisticated and elegant pastries, which left us all full and delighted by this very original and outstanding afternoon tea.
A lovely tradition indeed.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and found inspiration here. If you are about to book an Art afternoon tea at Rosewood London soon, please share your experience and opinion on DOYOUSPEAKLONDON’s blog!