Why is Afternoon Tea so popular?
The surge in popularity of this most British of pastimes has seen major hotels reporting huge increases in the volume of bookings.
The Langham hotel, for instance, has seen a 20 per cent rise in bookings over the past year, with demand so high that guests having to book up to two months in advance to ensure a place.
Tourists and out-of-town shoppers are listing afternoon tea as a must-do event while in the capital, and business leaders in all industries are choosing to hold meetings over tea as a stylish and relaxed alternative to the power breakfast or lengthy dinner.
William Gorman, chairman of the UK Tea Council, said: 'What's been happening in the last five to six years is that tea has become incredibly popular again. Hotels in London have really started to take afternoon tea seriously. Demand for afternoon tea is colossal and it's a big earner.'
'In London hotels you get the best experience of afternoon tea anywhere in the world. The attention to details, knowledge and preparation is first class'.
Tourists are making a relaxing tea break a must-do in the capital, while businesses see it as a stylish and relaxed setting for meetings.
Claridge's was today named London's best venue for afternoon tea. The five-star hotel in Mayfair beat competition from venues including The Dorchester, The Ritz and the recently refurbished Savoy to win the Tea Guild's awards.
The competition is now in its 26th year. A team of experts took tea in hotels and tearooms across the UK to find the best experiences.
As well as being judged on variety, flavour and staff knowledge of the teas offered, experts from the Tea Guild also awarded or deducted points for quality of food service, decor, ambience and presentation.
Claridge's general manager Thomas Kochs said: 'All of the staff are passionate about creating a memorable guest experience and when it comes to serving the perfect afternoon tea, we strive to get every detail just right.
'Claridge's afternoon tea is a time-honoured indulgence, practised by generations of tea lovers.'
TEA FIT FOR A PRINCESS: WHITE (WEDDING) EARL GREY
Tea-lovers looking for the perfect brew to toast the William and Kate's royal wedding need look no further. Twinings have their own take on the tea that should be supped during the royal celebrations.
Their Limited Edition Twinings Royal Wedding Commemorative Blend is a rare white Earl Grey tea with leaves from the Fujian province in China.
The delicate blend is scented with bergamot and rose petals. The white tea - the most delicate of all teas, say Twinings - represents the wedding dress, while the rose petals symbolise the confetti.
And the fragrant blend creates what they describe as 'a delightful cup of citrus and rose notes that will revitalise any drinkers’ senses.'
Stephen Twining, Director of Corporate Relations, commented:
'Twinings wanted to celebrate the Royal Wedding by creating a blend that would commemorate this iconic and joyful British occasion.'
The Royal Wedding Commemorative blend is presented in a black caddy featuring an elegant lady in a white wedding dress.
This limited edition blend is available at Waitrose or online at £4.99.
PS: In order to enjoy the perfect cup of the Royal Wedding Commemorative blend at its best, Twinings' Tea Specialist Mark Nicholls recommends that you brew your tea for no more than one minute to ensure you do not lose the delicate flavour of the bergamot and rose petals. Fill the kettle with fresh tap water each time, and for the delicate white tea leaves, allow to cool for five minutes before pouring into cup. Do not squeeze the tea bag against the cup - it can spoil the flavour. For white tea, serve without milk.