Having frequented my fair share of luxurious afternoon tea venues in London over the years, Harrods, the epitome of luxury, has always never failed to impress with its outstanding service and high afternoon tea standards. Over a year since I visited the Harrods Tea Rooms for their Chinese New Year afternoon tea, I had the pleasure of returning to review their new afternoon tea menu in the recently refurbished space.
Lost in a maze of luxury departments, and resisting the urge to reach out for the never-ending rails of opulent dresses that would probably wipe out my entire savings account, I eventually found my way to The Harrods Tea Rooms on the 4th floor. Formerly known as The Georgian, it opened in 1911 to commemorate the coronation of King George V, and was particularly famous for its tea dances just after the First World War.
The room was as grand as I had remembered from my last visit, with its classical Georgian-style interior and stunning Art Deco skylight that our attentions were naturally drawn towards to. We made ourselves comfortable, carefully shuffling our derrieres onto the plush velvet sofas, the seating arrangements currently much more spaced out than before, in line with current social distancing guidelines. There were also some new pieces of interactive artwork by contemporary digital artist, Dominic Harris, displayed on the walls that are fun to entertain kids and adults alike.
Our waiter that day was the charming Grzegorz who welcomed us with glasses of Harrods, Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru NV, whilst we perused their vast selection of teas, which remains a core part of Harrods’ heritage. For those not so well-accustomed with teas or feel overwhelmed by the wide variety, fret not as the Harrods Tea Rooms manager has specially created a tea flavour spectrum to help navigate the menu and allows guests to make their decisions based on where the tea sits among four main flavour profiles – sweet, woody, astringent and floral. We eventually decided to go for the tea pairing option, putting our trust in the hands of the Tea Tailor experts.
To whet our appetites, we were served a light and summery amuse-bouche of pea mint puree that went down really well, and had our tastebuds tingling with excitement for the main event.
The selection of sandwiches certainly looked much more interesting than your typical afternoon tea sandwiches, having been given their own unique Harrods twist:
English cucumber, mascarpone cream and garden mint on white pain de mie
Faroe Islands smoked salmon, lemon-and-dill cream cheese and caviar on tomato bread
Butter-poached chicken, coronation dressing, coriander and spring onion on turmeric bread
Egg mayonnaise, truffle butter and chives on white pain di mie
Lobster roll with summer radish and mustard cress
Struggling to pick a favourite, I decided to have extra portions of the salmon on tomato bread, and the egg mayonnaise which was most possibly the best egg sandwich that I’ve ever had, that layer of truffle butter was certainly the icing on the cake (‘or butter on the bread’ in this case, if there was ever such a saying). Another strong contender was surprisingly the understated cucumber sandwich which my dining partner opted for seconds of.
To add an extra touch of luxury, we were treated to some Oscietra caviar to accompany our sandwiches – eating sandwiches will never feel the same again. Perhaps I might have to consider sneaking a tin of caviar to my already overly-extensive list of handbag essentials. Only reserved exclusively for special afternoon tea visits of course, whilst I still patiently wait for my lottery windfall.
Paired with our savoury sandwiches was the No.170 Halmari Estate 2nd Harvest, Assam, India, renowned for their bright golden tips and fine twisted black leaves. Freshly brewed and poured at the table, the infused tea leaves produced a bright copper liquor, boasting a sweet and well-balanced flavour, that lingered into a pleasant aftertaste.
I was never quite that well-acquainted with the custard cream, the much-loved classic British biscuit – not usually something that I would be drawn towards to in the supermarket confectionary aisle. Their version of the custard cream however is a different story, made with sweet vanilla pastry, sponge, mousseline, and of course, custard, complete with the elaborate baroque design stamped onto them. Not overly-sweet and a much more refined recreation that I would happily devour an entire pack of – although I expect that it would surely cost more than 50 pence a pack!
Encased within the round bauble-like dessert, coloured the same signature green as the Harrods brand, was a vanilla sponge with fresh whipped lime-and-vanilla ganache, a lime curd and gelée, with a crunchy sablé biscuit base. The strawberry millefeuille had a crisp and flaky caramelised butter puff pastry, layered with a velvety vanilla mousseline, strawberry jam, and garnished with juicy gariguette strawberries. Saving the best for last, which Grzegorz mentioned was his favourite of them all, was the Chocolate Textures, a beautifully glazed chocolate cake with chocolate crème, caramel brûlée crème, and a milk-chocolate Chantilly cream – indulgent yet incredible light.
To accompany our sweet delights was a fresh pot of No. 230 White Peony, produced by the Heng Yuan Chun tea farm in the mountains outside the city of Fuding, China. A high-quality white tea that is created with the first bud and two leaves from the peony plant, it was a deliciously sweet and mellow blend, with a flowery aroma.
Our third and final course was the much-awaited freshly baked plain and raisin scones, served towards the end so that we could enjoy them whilst they were still warm – usually my preferred sequence of serving, because there’s not much joy in biting into a cold, hard scone. The accompaniments included an extremely thick and rich clotted cream, and two varieties of Harrods jams, strawberry and raspberry. Recommended to us was the No.16 Afternoon Special Blend, a blend that combines high and medium-elevation teas from the pristine Dimbula region in Sri Lanka, the carefully brewed leaves yielded an amber brew full of sweet, subtle flavours.
Our glasses of champagne were also kindly refreshed, this time with my favourite Rosé Champagne – ah, how I’ve missed the joys of afternoon teas.
A special word of thanks to Grzegorz for his exceptional service, who graciously fulfilled our every request and for his attentiveness in never letting our glasses run dry.
The Harrods afternoon tea is available 7 days a week, priced from £59.00 per person, with a myriad of luxury options to upgrade to, in true Harrods fashion. For those with special dietary requirements, there are also vegan and gluten-free afternoon tea options available upon request.
For more information on the menu and reservation details, visit The Harrods Tea Rooms website.
- My afternoon tea experience at The Harrods Tea Rooms was complimentary – views and photos are my own.