THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
[The editor apologizes for some eccentriciteas in Michael’s review – but takes no responsibilitea!]
In 1840, the Duchess of Bedford had the munchies in the middle of the afternoon and asked for tea and cake to be brought to her room. Thus began the tradition that would become a symbol of British culture right up there with The White Cliffs of Dover. But stiff upper lips are getting some stiff competition and the French might just have you singing a different tune!
The Mariage family began in the wholesale tea trade in the 1600s. Now retail, they boast 30 salons in France, Germany, Japan – and London, the first to offer afternoon tea. What a debut!
The space is magnificent. The emporium at ground level has an astonishing selection of teas and gorgeous accoutrements for brewing in style. Upstairs, the light-filled salon has the feel of an elegant orangery. It exudes old world charm, exemplified by our lovely, white-clad waiter. His knowledge of the extensive tea list was most impressive.
During the week there are two afternoon teas on offer: The Parisian (£29) and The Covent Garden (£35). Both are sumptuous and tea is incorporated into every sweet and savoury bite. You might call it their specialtea. Even the cocktails have a splash and at £10, they are very generous. Opéra Sunrise is a take on the tequila classic, with green tea, red fruits, lemon, basil, and ginger. It’s served in a glass pot to show off the colours of the morning sun. A frosted Tokyo Mojito blended green tea, ginger and yuzu with white rum and mint into a grown-up slushy. Perfect for a sunny summer day... if ever we had one!
The Parisian offers some inventive savouries. A chorizo and courgette muffin flavoured with chai was indeed a raritea. Moist and full of flavour with a lovely crumb. A smoked salmon frittata was infused with Russian Star tea, adding nuance to the classic combo.
The Covent Garden comes with a toasted brioche “club sandwich”, with chicken, avocado, pancetta and cream cheese infused with Yuzu Temple tea. Excellent. A smoked salmon wrap incorporates matcha cream and tea-flavoured yogurt into a delicate bite.
Both come with perfect fruit scones, served with butter and wonderful tea gelées. When it comes to scones, butter is fine; clotted cream is better. I love butter as much as any Parisian, but when in Covent Garden… Sorry if I’m being a bit persnicketea.
I never have enough room in my stomach by the time I get to the sweets. It’s nature’s crueltea. Especially on this occasion. The madeleines didn’t quite melt in my mouth, but everything else was exceptional. The macron is a highlight but a blueberry tartlet looked like an amethyst geode and tasted like a precious gem!
We sampled four teas. A spring blush Darjeeling, a Japanese green, an Earl Grey and a Marco Polo Blue, all brewed and served impeccably. The French certainly do understand hospitalitea.
On the way home, I couldn’t help but sing Tea for Deux!
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