The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum and Mason serves an afternoon tea fit for a queen. Founded in 1707, Fortnum and Mason is one of London’s oldest department stores, well known for their wide variety of luxury goods. In 2012 the St. James restaurant, located on the fourth floor, was transformed into the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, dedicated to HRH Queen Elizabeth II.
The sumptuous tearoom covers two sections of fourth floor and is beautifully decorated with light beige paneling on the walls and plush chairs covered in a lovely turquoise blue fabric.
A grand piano also stands in the foyer of the tea salon, which is played during the tea service.
The salon’s tables are immaculately set with fine white linen tablecloths and fine bone china decorated in the department store’s famous “St. James” pattern. The white and “eau de nil” jade blue pattern features golden embellishments that depict scenes of the nearby St. James park during the 18th century. This design, called “chinoiserie,” was a very popular throughout England during the Georgian-era.
The salon offers two different teas, a traditional “Afternoon Tea,” which includes sandwiches, scones and desserts and a “High Tea,” which includes a savory dish, scones and other savory accompaniments in place of the desserts and sweet scones.
During my visit I ordered one of each of the teas. For the high tea I was given the choice of several savory main dishes. I chose the Cornish halibut, a small filet served with Jerusalem artichoke puree and poached samphire (also known as “sea beans”), drizzled with nasturtium infused oil and topped with caviar. The samphire had a briny flavor that really complemented the fresh fish and the dollop of caviar on top really kicked it up a notch, transforming it into a very classy and elegant dish that was perfect for a high tea.
Next up was the savory course, a tiered tray of exquisite savories, including an eclair filled with smoked salmon cream; crab salad and cucumber served on multigrain bread; a creamy egg custard called “Eggs Drumkilbo” served in an eggshell with lobster (a favorite of the Queen’s); beetroot and ginger cheesecake and a sweet pea and coconut panna cotta served on a savory oatcake, which had a wonderful flavor of fresh spring peas and a light aftertaste of coconut. All of the savories were gorgeous and incredibly flavorful, unlike anything you would find anywhere else.
Next came the savory scones and accompanying spreads, including a scone with spring onions and chives, served with a sweet and savory grape mustard jelly and a goat cheese and a smoked salmon scone served with whipped butter and fresh dill.
Lastly, the High Tea came with a plate of five different tea sandwiches, including a “rare breed hen’s” egg salad with English watercress; smoked salmon with tartare mayonnaise; cucumber with mint cream cheese; Norfolk cured ham with English mustard and the salon’s specialty, a coronation chicken sandwich with mango chutney, golden raisins and coriander. The egg salad was one of the best I’ve ever had.
The traditional afternoon tea came with the same five tea sandwiches as well as a tiered tray with scones and a plate full of delectable desserts.
The scones were served freshly baked right out of the oven, one plain scone and one with sultanas. I ate the plain scone the “Devonshire way,” topped with clotted cream first, followed by a dollop of strawberry jam.
I loaded up the raisin scone with a generous helping of clotted cream scooped out of a lovely silver pot and and equally generous spoonful of the salon’s house made lemon curd. The combination of the buttery scone with the tart lemon curd and velvety clotted cream was heavenly, especially paired with a pot of the salon’s fabulous strawberry-infused green tea.
The desserts included a lemon tartlet, chocolate torte, white chocolate truffle, red velvet cake with cream cheese buttercream and a choux puff filled with rose flavored pastry cream, topped with an edible rose petal. The desserts were beautiful, arranged on the plate to look like a bouquet of spring flowers. The lovely floral aroma and flavor of the choux puff really reminded me of a freshly picked spring rose.
Fortnum and Mason has one of the most extensive tea lists of any tearoom in London, making the process of choosing which tea to drink difficult, but fun. In addition to the strawberry-infused green tea, I also chose a mango-infused black tea, which had a bright, tropical flavor, a wonderful accompaniment to the gorgeous desserts.
The whole experience was made even sweeter by my server, Joanna, who was very kind and knowledgeable about the tea menu. I was so happy to have had this experience, steeped in British history and tradition, one that would make anyone feel like royalty. This is definitely one of the best High Teas on offer anywhere in London.
I highly recommend afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason’s Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon. It’s a must-have experience for anyone visiting London who is interested in the tradition of afternoon tea and British culture and history.
Find out more about Fortnum and Mason’s Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon here.
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