Which tea shops in London offer the most extensive selection of British teas?

11 June 2024

Tea is more than just a beverage in England - it is a cherished tradition that reverberates through the British culture. London, as the nation's heart, is home to a plethora of tea shops, each more charming and welcoming than the last. When it comes to the variety and quality of British teas on offer, only a select few establishments stand out. This article seeks to highlight those esteemed tea shops in London where you can find the widest array of British teas, enhanced by a delightful afternoon tea menu.

Fortnum & Mason: A Royal Tea Experience

Upon stepping inside Fortnum & Mason, you'll be enveloped by an ambiance that reflects more than three centuries of tea heritage. This quintessential British institution is famous for its elaborate afternoon tea menu, boasting a plethora of sandwiches, scones, and pastries, all designed to complement their extensive list of teas.

Known for its royal history, Fortnum & Mason's Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon offers more than 80 different types of tea, including the classic British blends and rare varieties sourced from around the world. With flavours ranging from delicate to robust, there's a cup for every palate here. True aficionados might want to sample their speciality teas, which include the likes of Royal Blend, a malty, honey-like tea first crafted for King Edward in 1902.

The Ritz London: A Sumptuous Afternoon Affair

The Ritz London is a name synonymous with opulence and grandeur. The hotel's Palm Court epitomises this with a lavish afternoon tea affair. Served under the spectacular glass dome with an ambiance reminiscent of a bygone era, it's a quintessential London experience.

Their afternoon tea menu is a testament to British culinary tradition. Freshly baked scones with clotted cream, a selection of finely cut sandwiches, and a variety of exquisite pastries are the staples here. To accompany this, the Ritz offers a range of 18 different British teas – from traditional English Breakfast to flavoursome blends like the Ritz Royal English. It’s a delightful place to lose yourself in the grandeur while sipping some of the best teas in town.

The Langham Hotel: Tradition Meets Innovation

The Langham Hotel pioneers in innovating the traditional British tea experience. Its Palm Court, known as the birthplace of afternoon tea, serves a menu that fuses tradition with modern gastronomy.

The hotel offers a curated selection of British teas, which includes traditional blends, single-origin teas, and the Langham Blend– a unique mixture of Assam, Kenyan, and Sri Lankan teas. Their afternoon tea experience is elevated by a menu that features sandwiches with unique fillings, freshly baked scones, and pastries inspired by world-renowned chocolate and pastry chef, Cherish Finden.

The Goring: An Afternoon of Elegance

The Goring, located in the heart of Belgravia, epitomises elegance with its award-winning afternoon tea. Served in a luxurious, light-filled lounge, complete with hand-painted wallpaper, it’s an afternoon tea experience that's hard to beat.

Their menu offers a variety of British teas from the finest estates, including classics like Earl Grey and Darjeeling, as well as lesser-known options like the Malawi Antlers, a white tea exclusive to The Goring. The hotel's afternoon tea menu is a gastronomic delight, featuring sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, and a selection of homemade pastries. The option to pair these with champagne or a glass of Bollinger adds a touch of indulgence to the experience.

The Dorchester: A Taste of Luxury

The Dorchester is one of the world's most iconic hotels and its afternoon tea is no exception. Served in the opulent surroundings of The Promenade, their afternoon tea is a London experience not to be missed.

Their tea menu showcases a wide range of British teas, including their bespoke blends like The Dorchester Blend and The Spatisserie Blend. Accompanied by a menu of classic sandwiches, scones served with homemade jam and Cornish clotted cream, and pastries that change with the season, the Dorchester presents a luxurious taste of British tradition.

Harrods: A Blend of Tradition and Luxury

Harrods, one of London’s most iconic luxury emporiums, has been serving its customers for over 170 years. Their afternoon tea served in the Georgian Restaurant, is a luxurious affair that is quintessentially British. With its rich wood paneling and chandeliers, the restaurant provides a grand yet comfortable setting for a perfect afternoon tea experience.

Harrods offers a selection of over 50 loose leaf teas, with flavours that range from classic English Breakfast and Earl Grey to exotic varieties like the Harrods Blend. Their tea menu is constantly evolving, reflecting the changing seasons and moods of their clientele. The food selection includes an assortment of finger sandwiches with fillings such as smoked salmon and cream cheese, and coronation chicken. This is followed by freshly baked scones served with clotted cream and a variety of strawberry jam. The feast concludes with a duo of pastries from their award-winning patisserie.

The Georgian Restaurant remains a beacon of British tea tradition in the heart of London. For further details or to make a reservation, you may visit their website.

Claridge's: An Oasis of Tranquility

Considered one of the best afternoon teas in London, Claridge's has been serving tea since 1856. Set in a tranquil Art Deco room, their afternoon tea is an oasis in the bustling heart of Mayfair.

Their tea menu is a celebration of British tea culture, offering traditional afternoon teas like Darjeeling and Assam, along with their unique Claridge's Blend. You can savour these with a variety of finger sandwiches, including the quintessential cucumber and cream cheese and the sumptuous smoked salmon. The second course includes freshly baked scones, complete with clotted cream and fruit preserves. You can finish off this delightful meal with a selection of handcrafted pastries and cakes.

If you want to immerse yourself in a truly British tea experience, Claridge's should be on your list. For more information or to book your afternoon tea, you can visit their website.

In Conclusion: The Quintessence of British Tea Tradition

The British love affair with tea is well represented in these luxurious establishments. Each brings its unique charm and interpretation of the quintessential afternoon tea, with a selection of exquisite British teas, finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones, and handcrafted pastries.

Whether it's the regal ambiance of Fortnum & Mason, the timeless elegance of The Ritz London, the innovative approach of Langham Hotel, the quiet refinement of The Goring, the grandeur of The Dorchester, the rich tradition of Harrods or the tranquility of Claridge's, an afternoon tea in any of these places will transport you into the world of British tea traditions, and offer you a sensory experience you'll treasure.

Embark on this journey of flavours, and indulge in what can only be described as a quintessentially British experience. From the calming sip of Earl Grey to the delectable bite of a scone slathered in clotted cream and strawberry jam, it's an experience that speaks to the heart of British culture. So, when in London, don't miss on this delightful tradition.

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