Top 5 Budget Afternoon Tea
Palm Court Brasserie: Hemingway and Picasso lovers will feel right at home in Palm Court Brasserie where the art nouveau décor and bustling atmosphere makes you feel as if you're in a Parisian brasserie in the 1920s. Set right in the heart of Covent Garden and overlooking the piazza this is an intimate and lively setting for an afternoon tea that can easily linger on into the evening. If you’re in the mood for an informal and warm atmosphere then this is the tea for you. The tea is of the traditional finger sandwiches and scones sort but freshly baked and still warm and the selection of tea is quite basic but I suggest (if you’re not a afternoon tea purist) sampling the wine menu as well which goes well with the French and Seafood cuisine. The warm glow of the lamps, attentive and friendly staff and the pleasant buzz of conversations made languid and animated by glasses of wine gives the whole afternoon a Mediterranean ambience.
The Fan Museum: In Greenwich where the train lines go level with the tops of the trees and old spires stand over a world of glass, metal and water is one of London's best kept secrets. The fan museum serves a delicious afternoon tea for the humble sum of £6! Served in the Orangery of a Georgian townhouse the tea room is a work of art. Swirling dreamlike clouds that could have drifted out a renaissance painting decorate the ceiling while beautifully illustrated ivy climbs the walls. This is a traditional afternoon tea with homemade cake, scones with clotted cream and jam and delicious blackcurrant jam made by the museum's owner. Twining tea is on offer as well as coffee. You have to pass through the fan museum for £4 to get to the afternoon tea but it is four quid well spent. There are over 4000 fans in the museum dating from the 11th century and they are quirky, gorgeous, beautiful and exciting. Ivory, lace, silk, peacock feathers; the array is dazzling and sometimes comical (there’s a fan with a built in ear trumpet!) Make sure to check out the “secret” Japanese ornamental garden while you’re there.
BB Bakery Covent Garden: Eatables are the stars of the show at BB Bakery in Covent Garden and the scent of baked goods seduces you as soon as you walk in the door. This is a Foodie’s delight and the style equals substance in this patisserie like bakery. Rambling ivy and an elegant white palette gives the interior a magical archaic atmosphere and despite its popularity it is a soothing place to have tea away from the crowds of Covent Garden. The amount of artistic and colourful cakes, cupcakes, meringues, macaroons, cookies and scones on display is mouth-watering. The goods are baked daily by a team of French pastry chefs and if you have a sweet tooth this will be a casket full of wonders. Delicious finger sandwiches and a selection of black, red and green loose leaf teas are included illustrating that BB bakery does savoury as well as sweet. Freshly squeezed orange juice also in the afternoon tea and there are an array of tasty cordials, fruit juices and ginger beers to quench your thirst all served in cut glass goblets. The tea is served in eclectic vintage bone china and the whole affair is one of calmness and decadence and beauty. The waiters are very polite and a little understaffed but this is undoubtedly one of the best patisseries in London. One visit won’t be enough.
Crusting Pipe: This is the afternoon tea for classical music lovers. Food always tastes delicious to me when accompanied by good music and this is no exception. Set in the Old Covent Garden Market Hall the outside seating looks right onto the adjacent courtyard where live opera singers and musicians serenade the guests. The Crusting Pipe is a Victorian style wine bar but the afternoon tea is very popular in its own right. The candle lit tables and the rich wonderful music perfuming the air makes this the most atmospheric afternoon tea on this list. Fairtrade and Organic teas are on offer and the menu is delicious and wholesome, the sort of food you’d expect on offer in a Farmer’s market. Homemade fruit scones with Cornish clotted cream and jam and fresh finger sandwiches are alongside a selection of artisan British cheeses and water biscuits with ale chutney. The staff are friendly and capable and the building is full of old wine cellars and hidden nooks. If you fancy a lively and informal afternoon tea with good traditional food and plenty of musical entertainment then this is the place for you. Dress code is smart casual and make sure you book in advance!
Bea’s of Bloomsbury: I fell in love as soon as I saw the branch in St Paul's. The teapot lamps are a lovely modern twist and this is a cosy haunt in the shadow of St Paul's cathedral. Known for their tasty duffins (doughnut muffins filled with jam) Bea’s has now got the perfect balance between sandwiches and cake to a T(ea). Sandwiches include a selection of mini baguettes with yummy fillings like salami, pesto and brie. A range of different brownies and meringues and cupcakes with whipped sugary icing are included and then there’s the imaginative fruit marshmallows with are melt in your mouth delicious! The pots of loose leaf tea are from the Jing tea company and bohea lapsang black tea is lovely and intense to sip while the sky gets dark and the teapot lamps light the room with a warm yellow glow. It feels very Alice in Wonderland and full of character. If you let them know if advance then Bea’s can prepare a vegetarian or gluten free version of the afternoon tea which replaces the normal menu with inventive treats like berry pavlova and cheese