Afternoon Tea is always a time to take a few moments out and relax. It acts as a natural calming interlude between the stresses and battles of the morning, and the onward march of the afternoon and evening. With the approach of Christmas, and wanting to escape from the hoards of shoppers and noisy people on mobile phones, I was intrigued by the Intercontinental hotels launch of a seasonal 12 Days of Christmas tea.
Inspired by the traditional English Christmas Carol “The Twelve days of Christmas” the Intercontinental have put together an original Christmas afternoon tea that is sure to stimulate taste buds as well as memories of Christmas songs. Each dish served is matched to a line in the song. For those that have forgotten, the 12 items are:
On the 12th day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
- 12 Drummers Drumming
- 11 Pipers Piping
- 10 Lords a Leaping
- 9 Ladies Dancing
- 8 Maids a Milking
- 7 Swans a Swimming
- 6 Geese a Laying
- 5 Golden Rings
- 4 Calling Birds
- 3 French Hens
- 2 Turtle Doves
- and a Partridge in a Pear Tree
The Afternoon Tea food arrives on a 3 layer tower, along with a glass of Champagne, should you want it. Well who am I to refuse.
Beautifully presented, the food is made up of:
- Squab and wood Pigeon sandwich (I assume you just can’t put turtle doves in sandwiches these days)
- Speyside salmon and Lords of the hundreds cheese
- Hens egg mayonnaise with cucumber
- Warm Mountbatten estate partridge, morel mushroom and foie gras pie.
- Warm sultana and buttermilk scones with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry preserve
- Walnut powder crusted chocolate torte
- Strawberry filled choux bun, air dried raspberry
- Three milk flan, cranberry and mandarin compote
- Golden treacle tart, Chantilly and gold leaf
With each of the dishes on the afternoon tea menu, and its surroundings, you can see the components taken from the 12 Days of Christmas song. Some are obvious, like the Drummers drumming, or the cleverly crafted 5 Gold rings, but can you spot all the others. I won’t give the game away here.
Whilst sipping Champagne, a beautiful crisp Moet, you get to choose your tea; and the range on offer by the Intercontinental is impressive. Teas from around the world, from countries you may not think as tea producers, and blends to bring out the best in flavours. I chose the “Number One Park Lane”, a dark tea with Madegascan vanilla pods and Marigold flowers which is only blended and available at the Intercontinental Park Lane. It was full of vanilla aromas and taste, remaining full of flavour consistently throughout the whole pot, without getting stronger and spoiling at the finish. Beautiful taste and very refreshing.
The Intercontinental is on the corner of Hyde Park and Park Lane, or as my friend would say, midway between Harrods, Piccadilly Circus theatres and Oxford Street shops. The Tea salon is a large open area with tables set well apart from each other, and keeps you cocooned in tranquillity yet still giving you a view of the outside bustle.
Find yourself that perfect bit of calm either from the Christmas shopping rush or the January sales. The 12 Days of Christmas tea ends on the 6th of January, true to season and custom, so this is not one to miss. You deserve it.
London Park Lane
One Hamilton Place
London W1J 7QY