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FROM CLARIDGE’S TO CAPE TOWN’S MOUNT NELSON,

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A BELMOND HOTEL: EXPLORE THE ART OF AFTERNOON TEA AT THESE LEGENDARY DESTINATIONS

Legend has it that Anna Russell, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, invented Afternoon Tea in 1840, when she would ask for a tray of tea, bread and butter, and cake to be brought to her room at around 4 pm. Eventually, she began inviting friends to join her. By the 1880s, afternoon tea had gained popularity to fill the gap between what was usually a long wait between lunch and dinner. Today, Afternoon Tea remains as popular as ever, particularly in some of the world’s top hotels. More than just tea and cake, this time-honoured tradition has become something of an art form. These are the 5 iconic destinations to experience the ultimate Afternoon Tea across the globe.

CLARIDGE’S — LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM

Claridge’s opened its doors in 1856, not long after the notion of Afternoon Tea had first come to fruition, meaning the team here has been serving tea for well over 100 years. In keeping with tradition, Claridge’s prepares a selection of sweet and savoury options daily. The menu is based on British heritage and seasonal specialities and heroes local producers and ingredients. Expect to find finger sandwiches comprising smoked salmon and dill crème fraîche, with salmon from famed Severn & Wye smokery, roast chicken with honey and mustard using free-roaming Cotswold chickens or egg mayo made with iconic Burford browns. The sweet options change according to season, while Claridge’s classic scones remain a permanent fixture. They serve plain and raisin scones, accompanied by Rodda’s Cornish clotted cream and a freshly-made jam. No Afternoon Tea is complete without tea, and Claridge’s list is carefully handpicked and curated by Henrietta Lovell of Rare Tea Company. Sourced from some of the oldest tea plantations across the globe, Claridge’s tea list includes White Silver Tip from the mountains of Fujian in far eastern China, rare Malawi Antlers White Tea, and Earl Grey from Tregothnan, as well as their own Claridge’s Blend.

MOUNT NELSON, A BELMOND HOTEL — CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

As far as Afternoon Tea goes, no one is doing it quite like Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel. Cape Town’s blush-hued hotel has become known worldwide for its iconic tea offering. The Nellie first started serving Afternoon Tea in 1989, and is now one of the top experiences in the Mother City for locals and travellers alike. Walking the line between upscale and warmly inviting, the experience hosted in the Lounge and on the sun-basked terrace is simply world-class. Their extensive menu of over 60 teas is curated by South Africa’s first expert-trained tea sommelier, Craig Cupido. You will find everything from the classic black, herbal and rooibos variations, to rare white teas – such as White Peony Flower and White Monkey. To commemorate the hotel’s 125th anniversary this year, Mount Nelson has created a special tea blend in partnership with Mingwei Tsai of Nigiro Tea Merchants. It’s a brew of Rooibos, Honeybush, Mesquite and Apple — a skilful homage to South African infusions — presented with pink rose petals that add a floral fragrance, exuding the elegant energy of the property. The menu, which features locally-sourced ingredients and changes according to the seasons, plays an important role in pairing with and supporting the vast teas on offer. Savoury specialities include mushroom tartlets, salmon on seed loaf, elevated bobotie sausage rolls, roast beef sandwiches and perfectly balanced vichyssoise soup. Head pastry chef Vicky Gurovich has crafted the ultimate menu of sweet delicacies to compliment the savouries, in keeping with the time-honoured tradition of Afternoon Tea. The artful pastries include lemon blueberry meringue choux buns, pistachio carrot cake, and raspberry and chocolate mousse on Valrhona brownie, to name a few. Elaborate cakes aside, the scones are decidedly simple, and for good reason, they’re baked fresh for each sitting and served with clotted cream and strawberry jam. And if that’s not enough, The Nellie — who is newly, and proudly, pet-friendly — offers a dedicated dog Afternoon Tea menu, meaning your pup can join you on your next sojourn.

THE SAVOY — LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM

Served in the Thames Foyer since it opened in 1889, Afternoon Tea is a staple at The Savoy. Despite its long history, The Savoy’s concept has been given a modern refresh. With a list of over 30 teas, The Savoy’s food offering includes familiar favourites, reimagined with a contemporary twist. This includes a traditional coronation chicken, served with raisins and mango chutney. Their egg mayo comes on granary bread with horseradish sauce and watercress, while their smoked salmon comes served with yuzu and dill cress, atop spinach bread. The pastries and signature Savoy cakes are freshly made every day and include delicacies such as a strawberry and cream ‘taco’, made from a Tahitian vanilla sponge, strawberry and rose compote and a black tea panna cotta. Sticking with tradition, the Savoy naturally serves house-made classic scones, however, they also have a poached rhubarb variant, served with Cornish clotted cream, strawberry jam and lemon curd. Cuisine and tea work in tandem, meaning you’ll find the perfect cup of tea to compliment your sweets and savouries.

ANYA CAFÉ, CHELSEA — LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM

Humour and Hindmarch go hand-in-hand. As far as iconic British brands go, no one is doing it quite like Anya Hindmarch. At the heart of her ‘Anya Village’, a collection of concept stores, is Anya Cafe. Drawing inspiration from the charm of old-world British cafes, this one-of-a-kind cafe serves up a reimagined take on Afternoon Tea, complete with the brand’s signature sense of play on London’s Pont Street. While offering a more concise menu than the others on this list, Anya Cafe’s Afternoon Tea includes freshly-baked scones, served warm with clotted cream and strawberry preserve, their famed smiley-faced lemon cake, lemon curd meringue chubby cloud cake and caterpillar tarts. While on the savouries, you can look forward to simple finger sandwiches with smoked salmon with lemon, dill and cream cheese, cucumber and egg and cress. In terms of tea itself, you’ve got a choice of ‘good and proper’ teas, such as English Breakfast and Earl Grey, as well as ‘fresh teas’, such as fresh mint and buckwheat tea.

HÔTEL DE CRILLON, A ROSEWOOD HOTEL — PARIS, FRANCE

The story of Hôtel de Crillon starts in 1758, long before Anna Russell requested the first iteration of Afternoon Tea, when King Louis XV commissioned architect du jour Ange-Jacques Gabriel, to build twin structures overlooking Place de la Concorde, one of Paris’ most famous public squares. Behind one of the façades, a private residence was built to host ambassadors. Originally owned by the family of the Counts of Crillon, the mansion was eventually transformed into a luxury hotel in 1909. Today, their Afternoon Tea pays homage to the hotel’s illustrious history. Served in the Jardin d’Hiver tea lounge, Hôtel de Crillon’s menu is concise but curated, with a drinks offering that includes a selection of Grand Crus teas, provided by Maison Terre de Chine. Their savouries include waffles with salmon gravlax, lobster rolls and lime and pomegranate zucchini crisp with cream cheese. While on the sweet side, you’ll find strawberry rum baba with mascarpone whipped cream; bolivian chocolate and lime tartlets and coconut-rhubarb shortbread. No Afternoon Tea is complete without scones and here you’ll find freshly-baked classic or fig-cranberry scones. 

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