Having come straight off the plane from sunny Malaysia only to be greeted by a feisty Storm Ciara upon my return, a visit to the iconic Harrods for a quintessentially British afternoon tea was the perfect pick-me-up after a long day of travelling across the continents. Making our way through the luxurious maze, we eventually arrived on the Fourth Floor to enter The Harrods Tea Rooms, formerly known as The Georgian. Opened in 1911, it commemorated the coronation of King George V, intended to be “a Rendez-Vous of Fashion and Luxury” and remains as much of an institution as Harrods itself.
It was particularly famous for its tea dances just after the First World War. Under the direction of Miss Harding, for a fee of five shillings, customers were welcomed to try out the latest dance steps on the restaurant’s sprung dance floor (now hidden under the carpet) – that definitely would have been up my street!
Complimenting the classical Georgian-style interior is an Art Deco skylight with ornamental wrought ironwork and plasterwork frieze of stylised ferns and fountains. In 2014, The Georgian underwent a spectacular refurbishment by bespoke designer Christopher Guy, complete with his distinctive furniture – a harmonious fusion of modernism and classicism that creates the perfect environment for guests to while away the afternoon over fine teas and cakes. And as of 2018, as part of Harrods’ Taste Revolution, The Harrods Tea Rooms as we see today remains as glorious as ever – with a magnificent tree as its centrepiece, a new cake table at the entrance and a fine patisserie section that would tempt any sweet tooth in.
Missing the excitement of the Chinese New Year festivities over the last couple of weeks during my time back home in Penang, I was pleased to have made it back to London in time to try The Harrods Lucky Set, a limited-edition afternoon tea complete with a beautiful patisserie selection inspired by Chinese good-luck symbols. They were also kind enough to serve us a separate stand of their classic afternoon tea selection so that we could try both offerings at the same time.
We were seated at one of their prime tables just by their stunning centrepiece, beneath the Art Deco skylight, whilst being entertained by the soothing tunes played by the live pianist. Attending to us that day was the friendliest of waiters, Greg, who began by serving us much welcomed glasses of Harrods Rosé Brut NV and a refreshing white peony tea, freshly prepared at our table. Produced by the Heng Yuan Chun tea farm in the mountains outside the city of Fuding, this high-quality white tea is created with the first bud and two leaves from the peony plant, which are then delicately dried to create a beautifully natural, unprocessed tea.
From their variety of speciality teas selected by their in-house Tea Tailor, I went for the No. 18, The Georgian Restaurant Blend, a famous Harrods classic created for The Georgian restaurant which brings together Assam, Darjeeling, and Ceylon, resulting in an aromatic and full-bodied tea that certainly appealed to my palate.
We first tucked into the array of delicate finger sandwiches which all looked incredibly appetizing:
Sliced cucumber and mascarpone cream with freshly cracked pink pepper
Cacklebean farm egg mayonnaise served in a brioche roll with mustard cress
Faroe Island smoked salmon with lemon cream cheese and dill
Packington farm coronation chicken with cucumber raita
‘The King George’ salt beef with pickles and mustard
Line caught tuna mayonnaise with capers, chive and lemon
A slight twist was given to a couple of their savoury offerings in The Harrods Lucky Set which included a Roast Gressingham duck, with hoisin sauce and spring onions served on white bread, and a Faroe Islands smoked salmon with beetroot cream cheese served on brown bread, the latter being both of our favourites from the selection.
Their fine selection of patisserie changes seasonally, and are all made by their in-house chefs using the finest possible ingredients. From The Harrods Lucky Set we enjoyed a selection of Chinese New Year-inspired patisserie which included:
The Mandarin – Mandarin mousse with a Mandarin compote centre
Yuanbao (gold ingot) – caramelised white chocolate and black sesame
Happiness – Harrods black tea and milk chocolate
Firecracker – strawberry and yuzu mousse on a sablé base
Their classic selection of sweet delights were just as impressive:
Caramelised apple tart – caramelised apple compote, crème patisserie and a spiced frangipane
Coconut and lime petit gateaux – lime curd, coconut Chantilly, coconut ganache with a vanilla sponge and sablé
Raspberry cheesecake – crisp biscuit base, raspberry compote and a cream cheese and vanilla mousse
Harrods signature – Harrods-English-Breakfast-infused milk chocolate mousse, milk panna cotta, milk jam and a malt biscuit
Each and every patisserie was intricately made with a beautiful combination of flavours and textures – my top two favourites were most definitely the Harrods Signature and The Mandarin.
Last but not least, we were treated to some freshly baked fruit and plain scones which had a light and fluffy texture, accompanied by clotted cream, Harrods apricot jam infused with Fenjiu, and Harrods strawberry jam. Having the scones served separately whilst they are still warm has always been my personal preference, and The Harrods Tea Rooms were undoubtedly en pointe with their service.
We finished off with some bespoke mahjong-tile chocolates with delicate illustrations, filled with gunpowder tea and lime ganache. And of course we didn’t forget to write our wishes on our cards which we then hung on the tree branches above us – fingers crossed that they come through!
If you missed out on the Chinese New Year Lucky Set menu, fret not, as their classic afternoon tea is available 7 days a week, priced from £59.00 per person. Those with dietary requirements will also be pleased to find a ‘free-from’ afternoon tea, specially created by their patisserie chefs without gluten, meat, dairy or nuts. Afternoon Tea at The Harrods Tea Rooms is certainly an experience that’s not to be missed, and joins my list of favourite afternoon teas in London.
- My afternoon tea experience at The Harrods Tea Rooms was complimentary – views and photos are my own.