It's time to take scones, clotted cream and pattiserie to another level
Afternoon tea. The mid-afternoon event – resplendent in perfectly plump scones, too-pretty-to-eat cakes and razor-cut triangles of sandwich – is so loved that you'll be pressed to find a fancy hotel without an offering on its menu.
But what about when the standard clotted cream/jam procedure feels a little tired? Perhaps time to mix it up a touch?
Enter Britain's quirkiest tea-time offerings. From a punk-style interpretation to relaxing in a church crypt, here's some alternative afternoon teas that you just have to try.
1. Sanderson, London
So this might just be the sparkiest, swishest and most scrumptious afternoon tea on the block. Not content with dealing in the same old egg-and-cress triangles, this London hotel have created a tea inspired by everyone's favourite scone-lover: the Mad Hatter.
It's brilliantly bonkers. Menus hidden in vintage books, crab eclairs, green sandwiches, teeny painted fudge caterpillars, potion bottles of coconut panna cotta and passion fruit jelly, lady bird red velvet cakes and pocket watch coffee macaroons meld with a selection of speciality teas for a truly special affair.
£48 - £65 per person, 50 Berners Street, London W1T 3NG, morganshotelgroup.com
2. Australasia, Manchester
An Australian restaurant inspired by the food of Japan and Indonesia doesn't sound like the most obvious cakes-and-loose-leaf venue, sure.
But Australasia's Asian High Tea – complete with a tower of hand-rolled sushi rolls, Oriental-dressed salads and a glass of fizzy Aussie wine, followed by fusion-style sweet treats (coconut ice-cream, buttermilk panna cotta, berry-laden mini meringues) will make you wonder why no one's tried it before.
£25pp, The Avenue, Spinningfield, Manchester M3 3AP, australasia.uk.com
3. St Martin's Crypt, London
A traditional afternoon tea in a pretty different venue. Cream, jam, scones and cakes are all freshly prepared and totally delicious – but the big draw here is the slightly spooky crypt setting. Worth a trip just to say you've shared a pot of earl grey with the dead, no?
Cafe entry free. St Martin in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 4JJ, stmartin-in-the-fields.org
4. Julien Plumart, Brighton
A French take on the British classic. This patisserie's dainty offerings includes tea-infused macarons to exquisitely complement your pot. Très, très bon.
£29 for two, 27 Duke Street, Brighton BN1 1AG, julienplumart.com
5. The Club Hotel, Jersey
There are more twists on the traditional than you can shake a fine-china cup at at this plush Jersey hotel's Bohemian Afternoon Tea. We're talking gariguette strawberry and mint iced lollies, a Pina Colada Délice and black butter-slathered scones.
£19.95pp, Green St, Jersey JE2 4UH, theclubjersey.com
6. Baltic Social, Liverpool
Do not head to this Liverpudlian bar-restaurant's Punk Afternoon Tea unless you're ravenous. Sliders, mini hot dogs and IPA in a teacup: this is for ladies who lunch in a big way.
7. Daawat, London
For those who take their tea on the spicy side. There's the obligatory warm, sultana scones and cream at this Covent Garden-based Indian eatery, but save room for the chicken tikka and coriander burger, herb-infused shortbread and a strong dose of cardamom chai. Sumptuous.
£19.95pp, 2 Burleigh St, London WC2R 7PX, daawatrestaurant.co.uk