You’re all familiar with the wallet-gouging, tourist-fleecing disgrace that is afternoon tea in a number of London’s more storied hotels and department stores. Fifty quid a head for indigestion and seventy for heartburn, if you decide to throw in a sad, room temperature flute of own-brand Champagne. It’s not traditional, it’s a shameless clip joint routine, all white-gloves, golf club etiquette (blazers, anyone?) and meanness. Here at the Punch Room, we really feel that it should be allowed to fade into the twilight, along with the last episode of Downton Abbey. There’s no point complaining about something unless you’re going to do something about it, so we figured we’d do it properly.
“Scandal Water” was the 19th Century slang for tea and became the thing to do amongst the upper echelons of London Society, for whom work was unthinkable and consequently boredom was a very real issue. The empty hours of the afternoon, between the memory of lunch and the anticipation of dinner, became the perfect time to revive the spirits with a cup of afternoon tea and engage in the real focus of the afternoon - a solid couple of hours of salacious gossip.
Rather than a silver tower of fussy diabetes-inducing cakes and crustless sandwiches, the star turn of the event was the English muffin; invented to perfectly balance the delicate flavour of the expensive and hard-to-obtain tea. They even had special silver dishes created in order to bring them to the table at the perfect temperature and texture, which shows that they took this stuff pretty seriously. In celebration of this tradition, Henrietta Lovell, founder of the acclaimed Rare Tea Co. and Phil Carmichael, Executive Chef at Berners Tavern, have created five carefully chosen pairings – Five teas and five food pairings, each designed to perfectly complement one another; including an “iced Gem” Shortbread biscuit with butter Cream or miso cured Salmon with Caviar and more.
The careful and precise marrying of flavours including Japanese sencha and Jasmine silver tip, will delight and revive and for those wishing to add a little extra low-key scandal to the afternoon, Davide Segat, Bars Manager at The London EDITION, has created a punch from each of the respective teas, just to loosen tongues a little and to give you the opportunity to be the most scandalous version of yourself; from the English Milk Punch to Teddy Hook Punch.
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