Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Birthday tea at Fortnum and Mason

For my birthday this year I wanted to be in London having tea, and to me there was only one place to have that tea, the legendary Fortnum and Mason department store. When I first visited London 10 years ago, this was by far my favorite store and my favorite place to have afternoon tea. When we arrived, I was surprised to find the building is undergoing some renovations, and what a clever way to disguise the exterior. Charming!

Alex and I arrived a few minutes early for our noon reservation. I was happy to begin taking in the elegant surroundings. The entry to the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, where we would have tea, features live piano music and those beautiful "eau de nil" colored tins of tea. The French term literally means "water of the Nile," and that exquisite shade of blue-green is perhaps my favorite color in the world. It features prominently at Fortnum and Mason, which is no doubt another reason I love this store so well! Some of you may recall that the Queen herself made an official visit to Fortnum and Mason back in 2012 when the restaurant was renamed the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, and The Daily Mail covered it here. (The Queen wore an eau de nil suit and hat which were simply beautiful. Cake lovers, scroll down to see the cake Fortnum and Mason made in honor of the royal visit.)

When we sat down at our table, I paused to take in the new furnishings since I was last there, and of course the pretty eau de nil teawares.

We just happened to be seated next to this picture of Audrey Hepburn, which was fitting since Audrey and I share the May 4 birthday. She would have turned 85 the day I turned 50, and this year Google honored her on that day with a "Google Doodle," as I recall.

I love the elegant teawares here. You'll note that atop the teapot is a leaf-shaped piece of paper which bears the name of the Queen Anne blend of tea I ordered. A clever way to distinguish the various pots of tea!

For once, I didn't mind seeing a few bits of leaf in my teacup, as I knew it meant the good people of Fortnum and Mason had properly brewed the tea with some of their fine tea leaves!

When the tiered server came, I admired all the pretty offerings.

There was also a second tiered server for the preserves, lemon curd and clotted cream.

Oh, these sandwiches! Now first of all, isn't that a unique and tidy way to display the different flavors? From front to back are Cucumber with Cream Cheese, Rare Breed Hen Egg with  Mustard Cress, Rare Roast Beef with Gherkin & Caper Dressing, Smoked Salmon with Lemon Dill Butter, and Coronation Chicken. I enjoyed them all, but the Coronation Chicken was my favorite. Interestingly, the servers make a point of telling you that you may enjoy repeats of anything you like. Alex and I were quite full after eating all five of the tea sandwiches, but the young couple next to us ordered new plates of sandwiches two more times— that was 15 tea sandwiches each! (And no, they weren't obese. I can't imagine where they put them.)

We enjoyed both fruit and plain scones, and they were light and delicious, especially with that yummy clotted cream.
I should have written down what the sweets were, as now that I'm back home my memory is not the best! Clockwise from top right are a chocolate petit four with gold leaf, a rose-flavored eclair (we both liked it!), a cream cheese and chocolate tart (I believe), a mousse type dessert and a macaron. Oh, were they ever good!

And I am unbelievably sorry to have to report that despite the lovely looking delicacies we were encouraged to try from the cake carriage, both husband and I were so full we couldn't eat another bite. You cannot imagine how I mourned this fact, but I didn't want to make myself sick, after all. (Now, of course, I'm home where the most exotic sweet currently in the house is a Chips Ahoy cookie, and I'd kill for a piece of one of these cakes!) As we left to enjoy a bit of shopping in the store, we were presented with two small tins of Fortnum and Mason Afternoon Tea to take along. It was a lovely end to a particularly lovely birthday tea!

Tomorrow: Shopping at F&M — and a small giveaway!


  1. Happy belated birthday! I'm May 8! This looks so divine. Tea in London is one of my dreams. Your pictures are very inspiring. Tracy C

  2. Fabulous! Afternoon Tea Heaven! How could you resist that Battenburg Cake on the Cake Carriage???

    I will have to go back to take in all of the new décor. So happy for you, Angela. Happy Happy Birthday!

    Mary Jane

  3. I loved this post Angela and felt like I was right there with you. After my garden tour to Ireland next month I should be thinking of a tea tour in England, wouldn't that be fun!
    The china is simple, but elegant and the tiers of food look delicious.
    Did you plan your own itinerary for the trip?

  4. OH MY! What a delightful Birthday! What a beautiful place to celebrate! The colors are so relaxing and that amazing sandwich!!! Someday....

  5. Oh, I don't blame you for wanting to celebrate your birthday in this beautiful setting! I'm putting this on my "must visit" list if I ever get to London. And how nice of them to decorate in your favorite color! It was all beautiful and I'm sure, delicious. Happy Birthday!

  6. Happy Belated Birthday! Thank you so much for inviting us along via your blog. I am enjoying my visit. Perhaps, someday I will visit in person. Looking forward to the rest of your trip!
    Sips and Smiles,

  7. What a wonderful birthday tea. "Happy Birthday Angela."

  8. What a beautiful birthday/tea time memory! When I was in London I went into the Fortnum and Mason store and bought candy in their food hall to bring home to my dad, but I didn't have tea there. Is that a good excuse to return??? Their signature color reminds me of Tiffany's.

  9. Oh, so perfect for your big celebration! Congratulations. xoxo

  10. It is great fun to see the sights of London. I am so happy for you that you had such a wonderful day!
    Happy Birthday!

  11. How lovely to celebrate a special birthday in such a special place! I arrive in London tomorrow and can't wait to visit all the wonderful shops. F&M is my favorite too! Did you get to the Twining tea museum?

  12. I, too, would have mourned those cakes! Sweet memories! :-)
    Happy belated birthday, and thanks for taking us along for the recap!

  13. Oh my word, lady, what a birthday. You lucky lucky gal!

    I LOVED this visit with you sharing your experience there - adding to my bucket list right now!

    I have never been to England, and yet my daughter married into a British family who are always asking us to visit......need to do that one of these years for SURE.

    Sincere Happy Belated birthday wishes to you! Big hugs!!

  14. Love it! you being there is the next best thing to me being there!

  15. I thoroughly enjoyed your blog on Tea in London! Sounds absolutely perfect - as it should be for you my tea friend on your "special" birthday too! Hope you had a wonderful birthday and best wishes for a great year ahead!

  16. What a perfect way to celebrate reaching the half-century mark! Here's to another 50+ years of happy tea times!

  17. A perfect way to spend your birthday!

  18. What a nice place to 'take tea!'
    Your photos are gorgeous - thanks so much for all the information, I'm ready to go. All the best,

  19. You mean they didn't have a "doggie bag" for those sweets from the cake carriage? Smiling!
    Love the leaf on top of the teapot. A clever idea for sure! Those scones looked to die for, delicious! The sandwiches and sweets oh yes! I would want a "doggie bag" there too, for those extra sandwiches. Maybe the other couple were quietly tucking them in their bag for later. Just wonderful!

  20. I laughed about the good consumption of the other couple! I love to people watch! Ha. Maybe that was going to be their only meal for a few days as it's so expensive in London?! (Smiles). Presentation so pretty!

  21. Your birthday tea looked absolutely wonderful! Such a beautiful setting and delicious looking tea treats (those scones look perfect).


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