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Tea Time with Nelson and George, Episode 2, London, England

Join us on our tea travels where we explore the world one cup of tea at a time, searching for new varieties of tea, unique ways of serving tea, and new locations to enjoy our favorite drink.  Today we are having English Afternoon Tea in the most traditional of locations, The Savoy Hotel in London, England.  Although tea is comparatively new to Great Britain, they have certainly created a lovely way of enjoying it - a moment of luxury we both thoroughly enjoyed. 
The Savoy 
London WC2R 0EU
+44 (0)20 7836 4343
Afternoon Tea:  1:00 p.m. - 5:45 p.m.
At The Savoy in London, I would heartily agree with Henry James; Afternoon Tea at The Savoy in London is an enchanting experience that is most agreeable.The gentle trickle of tea being poured into fine china, the bubbles merrily gliding to the top of my rose champagne, the squish of clotted cream and jam as I take a bite of scone.  In our often hectic, fast paced life, taking the time to pause and focus on the English ritual of afternoon tea is a luxury not many of us can afford very often.  If you do travel to London, however,  and your budget allows, I highly recommend spending both the time and money to partake in this famously English ritual.
From the moment you walk down the drive (yes, it has a cute little driveway!) of The Savoy, you can feel the history seeping out from every corner.  The famous green lettering seems to greet you as do the doormen who welcome to this London landmark. Opened in 1889, The Savory has always prided itself on great service and modern convenience, and has welcomed its share of famous guests.  Oscar Wilde,  Nellie Melba,  Claude Monet, Audrey Hepburn, Maria Callas, Bob Dillon and Julie Andrews are only a few of the myriad celebrities who have slept here.  Although the history of the hotel is impressive, I am glad to see the recent remodel (2010) as left the character and style perfectly intact while giving it a discreet facelift.  
After walking in the front doors, simply float down the stairway (I feel floating is most appropriate in this atmosphere), and check in with the hostess or host. While the Thames Foyer offers food and beverage service from 8:00 am to 11:00 pm, the Afternoon Tea is given from 1:00-5:45.  Reservations are a must, and I suggest coming with an empty stomach as the selection of fingerfood is perhaps more filling that one would expect.   There is a dress is smart casual, so no jeans or sneakers or as they say, "sports wear."

Once seated, you first choose if you will be having a full tea (with food), or just a pot of tea.   You can look at a sample menu here: http://bit.ly/1MFsE2h.  Tea is charged per person, as you share a tower of treats, so sharing (as in splitting one portion) is not allowed.  The waitstaff is happy to guide you through your selection of 31 teas, as the selection can be somewhat overwhelming.   Our server was a tea sommelier, and made sure our cups were perpetually filled with tea brewed at the proper temperature.

Although not every member of the staff is a tea sommelier, our server informed us that each member of the waitstaff is extensively trained on the subject of tea.  The silver tea pots are kept off on a side table, and filtered water of the proper temperature is added frequently.  I personally enjoyed the "Iron Buddha Oolong," which had the typical delicate floral character. 

Unless you are gluten intolerant, you must at least sample one of the scones - perhaps the most traditionally British food pairing with tea.  Clotted cream and jam is always served with them, which begs the question: which is firs, the cream or the jam?  The answer to that question varies by region in England.  If you are from the area of England near Cornwall, cream is first followed by jam.  Those from Devon, however, insist the other way around is best.  


No matter how you take your tea, or how in what order you put your clotted cream on your scone, tea at the Savoy is decidedly lovely.  


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