The three unspoken rules surrounding the perfect afternoon tea remains to be a whimsical theme, an array of admirable sweet treats, and a selection of mouthwatering savouries that include sought after delicate scones. Those ‘rules’ were taken to all new heights at The Chesterfield, a four-star hotel, tucked away in one of Mayfair’s charming avenues. The vintage sweetshop afternoon tea takes you a whirlwind experience right back to your younger days, adding a dose of sweet nostalgia into the mix, while satisfying all the cravings attributed to any sugary affair.
The afternoon tea experience is hosted in the The Chesterfield’s gorgeous conservatory, complete with twinkling fairy lights and a touch of bottle green foliage to complete the enchanting look. As the home of the hotel’s afternoon tea experiences, it proudly showcases its badge of honour for being ‘Highly Commended’ by the one and only Afternoon Tea Awards for a number of consecutive years – it certainly raised the stakes for a phenomenal experience.
The sweetshop afternoon tea began with a theatrical flare. A cloud of dry-ice fills the air, before revealing a glass of homemade pink lemonade topped with a sherbet saucer, the first of the many treats filled with sentiment.
To mark the experience, we were served up a glass of Lanson’s finest rosé champagne. The sweet, fruity notes of the champagne perfectly complimented the lingering taste from the pink lemonade and set the scene for the rest of the afternoon tea, in true Mayfair style.
If you prefer a more traditional experience, there is a fantastic selection of warm beverages, including a fantastic selection of loose leaf teas. There are a few special teas to keep in mind when perusing the menu – if you want to stick to the sweetshop theme, there is nothing more perfect than the fruit salad tea. The tea is made up of a handful of dried fruit and when infused for a number of minutes, it gives the most sensational taste and scent that casted my mind back to the initial whiff of Barratt fruit salad chews. If you prefer a black tea, the liquorice tea gives you an essence of heavenly liquorice cables, beautifully brought to life by liquorice root and natural liquorice oil giving rise to its strong taste and classic aroma.
Another tea to keep in mind is the Dancing Dragon. The tea is service with piping hot water and the head of a flowering bulb, handmade in China from quality silver needle green tea. Within a matter of minutes, the flower blooms like it would in a warm spring summers day, slowly unravelling to produce a white and deep rose coloured flower. It’s both visually appealing and flavoursome, especially if you like a smooth tea with a strong, yet sweet floral taste.
Moving onto the first tier, we indulged in an array of vegetarian finger sandwiches, from egg mayonnaise in pesto bread, goats cheese, sundried tomato and salad served in tomato bread, cheese & tomato and classic cheese & cucumber, both served on white bread, and lastly, chargrilled aubergine, which was rather unique, but delicious nonetheless.
Moving onto my favourite part of any afternoon tea experience, the scones. We were served up a selection of warm, fluffy scones and we had the difficult choice of which to start on. Naturally, I went for the chocolate scone and topped it with clotted cream, as I felt the chocolate chips added an extra layer of sweetness that didn’t warrant a layer of jam. On the other side of the table, my mum opted for the plain scone with raisins, and followed the traditional method (the correct way!) of clotted cream first, followed by strawberry conserve.
The conserve was like no other that I’ve tried at previous afternoon teas. It was perfectly sweet, with the addition of fresh strawberry pieces, which gave an extra dimension to the conserve and made the overall scone consuming experience more satisfying. I always believe it’s the smallest of details that have the biggest impact.
Moving up to the final tier of the afternoon tea, we were in awe of the sweet treats that were re-created in a theme of many other vintage sweets that we both spent consuming as children.
We were served up a selection of sweets, from a Coca-Cola slice, Drumstick macaroon, strawberry liquorice allsorts cheesecake, blue raspberry and bubblegum battenberg cake, giant jazzies lollipops, and Reese’s peanut butter cups. We were genuinely amazed at how closely all the sweets tasted in conjunction with the flavour of the sweets they were inspired by. My favourite was recreation of the Reese’s peanut butter cups – I’ve always been a huge fan of them and they were replicated so perfectly in pastry form. We were also served a selection of the gelatine-free cakes to try and the triple chocolate slice was heavenly, a must try.
The experience was wrapped up with a trip to The Chesterfield’s very own vintage sweetshop, where we could pick 50g of sweets from the jars. From raspberry bonbons, to rhubarb and custards, to pink shrimps, love hearts, and cola gummies — it took me right back to trips to the local pick and mix station where I grew up.
Overall, a truly sensational experience. From start to finish, the service was excellent, the level of detail put into the tea by the hotel and the pastry chefs surpassed expectations. It certainly ticked the three afternoon tea ‘rules’ and ranked highly in each category too. Just amazing.
If you’re looking for a theatrical experience that you won’t forget, I’d certainly pop on down to The Chesterfield and try the sweetshop afternoon tea . Even take your kids, as they also have a wonderful kids offering, catering to the whole family.
Until next time…