Monday, April 23, 2012
After ten days of traveling in Peru and Bolivia, I landed in London ready to settle back into my life at home. Unfortunately, I only had one day to do so before leaving for a trip to Iceland. So what did I do with my sole day in the UK? I did the most quintessentially British thing I could think of: I went to afternoon tea.
It wasn’t just any afternoon tea, though. With the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee coming up, hotels and restaurants across London are offering special themed teas in honor of Her Majesty’s 60th anniversary on the throne. The Andaz Liverpool Street hotel is no exception. Each month from now until June, the hotel is offering an afternoon tea based on a queen that reigned in Britain for a significant period of time.
In March it was Queen Elizabeth I. Due to her sponsorship of Sir Walter Raleigh’s expeditions to what is now the USA, the tea was American themed. Given my citizenship, it was the perfect afternoon tea for me. When they invited me to try it with a friend, I didn’t hesitate to accept.
Which is how I found myself spending my first afternoon in London in almost two weeks at the Andaz’s 1901 restaurant. The special Diamond Jubilee afternoon tea started off with a cocktail made with a refreshing blend of Appleton Estate rum, mandarin and passion fruit puree, ginger beer, and grenadine.
From there we started on the savories, which included wraps, pastrami-and-gherkin sandwiches, and a plate of tiny hamburgers, miniature hot dogs, and little cones of fries. It was a very American take on a truly British tradition.
Once we polished off the first half of our afternoon tea, we moved onto the sweets. Those began with thick chocolate brownies covered with a dusting of powdered sugar. They were followed by a plate of miniature eclairs, tiny carrot cupcakes, slices of sponge cake, and peanut butter cookies.
We spent several hours savoring the sweets and catching up over copious cups of Earl Grey and rooibos. It was the perfect way to spend the afternoon, and I was glad to have chosen to spend my first day in London in a long time experiencing something the city does so well.
There are still almost two months left until the Diamond Jubilee, and I’m tempted to return to the Andaz Liverpool Street hotel try out the Queen Anne tea in April, the Queen Victoria tea in May, and the Queen Elizabeth II tea in June. If I’m ever in London again, that is.