Britain may love its people, its Queen, even its football, but perhaps the nation’s most cherished love affair is with its tea. As a whole, the country drinks 165 million cups of tea per day—that’s a whopping 60.2 billion cups per year! And while we’ll settle for a tea bag in a travel mug, nothing makes us happier than sitting down to a proper afternoon tea.
Although a traditional British afternoon tea typically includes warm scones with clotted cream and jam, tiny sandwiches (usually cucumber, smoked salmon and egg) with their crusts cut off, and a variety of loose-leaf teas, several hotels and restaurants have started taking a quirkier approach. From alcoholic infusions, to animal-themed décor we’ve rounded up six of the most unique afternoon teas in Britain.
Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea at St. David’s Hotel & Spa in Cardiff
£24 per person
You won’t find any delicate finger sandwiches or teeny tiny cookies arranged neatly in a tower at this afternoon tea in Cardiff Bay. In fact, you won’t find any tea at all. Instead, you’ll be treated to a pint of full-bodied craft beer and a selection of savory snacks—mini beef sliders topped with Welsh cheddar, baked lamb and mint sausage rolls, toasted Welsh rarebit and pulled pork sandwiches, parmesan scones, and seared steak wraps—in a wooden briefcase.
Fashionista’s Afternoon Tea at The Berkeley London
£52 per person
Have your designer shoes (and eat them too) at this fashion-themed tea created by one of the most artistic pastry chefs in Britain, Mourad Khiat. Inspired by the seasons and colors of the fashion industry, highlights include ginger biscuits shaped into pointy Manolo Blahnik stilettos, vanilla éclairs molded into ethereal Simone Rocha tulle dresses, and chocolate biscuits transformed into Burberry classic trench coats. They’re almost too cute to eat. Almost.
Jungle Book Afternoon Tea at Taj 51 Buckingham Gate
£35 per person
Inspired by the childhood classic, The Jungle Book, this afternoon tea takes guests on a culinary journey through the wild kingdom. But don’t expect just one or two swatches of animal print at this tea; everything from Baloo’s Himalayan Honey Macaroons to Shere Khan’s Masala Chai Éclair has been created with the book’s characters and plot in mind. And you should fancy a bit of bubbly with your meal, rest assured knowing that portion of the proceeds from every bottle of organic prosecco supports conservation and animal welfare projects around the world.
Vintage Afternoon Tea Party at Casa Angelina
£19 per person
From goat cheese and hazelnut bonbons to mini lemon meringue pies, there’s no shortage of delectable goodies at this Edinburgh café. But the real standout is the clothes. Yes, the clothes. Upon arrival, guests are encouraged to rummage through a trunk full of lavish vintage dresses and accessories and put together an outfit for the occasion. Know a little lady who would like to don a poufy dress and pearls? The restaurant also offers a special tea party (with dress up options!) for children.
Afternoon Tea at The Old Post Office
£9.75 per person/£11.75 per person for gluten-free menu
For a freshly-steeped pot with a slice of history, head to this quaint eatery in the village of Lisbane. After laying derelict for many years, the 1840s building has been lovingly transformed and turned into an impressive tea shop, boasting three cozy tea rooms, a courtyard garden, and a tranquil lily pond. Every detail, from the produce to the artwork, has been sourced locally, so you truly get the taste of Northern Ireland in every visit.
Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at Sanderson London
£48-£65 per person, depending on date
For an afternoon tea that will make your inner child squeal with delight, get ready to tumble down the rabbit hole with Alice and all her friends. Discover menus hidden inside vintage books, teapots adorned with kings and queens, sandwich plates decorated with birdcages, and carousels and ticking clocks holding savoury, specialty sandwiches. In celebration of the novel’s 150th anniversary, the meal also includes five tailor-made teas (served in adorable glass vials) inspired by the characters of the beloved story.