The Hempel, London, privileged location for the afternoon tea ritual

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19 March 2012

English afternoon tea is a fascinating ritual in itself, and even more so when it is combined with Zen concepts to enhance the experience. The Hempel London has dedicated meticulous attention to detail, from guests escorted to their table, to the delectable culinary preparations that accompany the quintessentially British beverage.

The “Zen Garden Tea” by this luxury London hotel adds three elements to Afternoon Tea to make it a unique experience. “Zen” takes the form of subtle influences from the Far East, in the mood and style of food. “Garden” is represented by the use of herbal and floral elements in the pastries and garnishes. “Tea” is not just the beverage, but it is also included in the savoury and sweet elements of the dishes.

The leaf tea selection also includes all these elements. The service reveals a new level of attention to detail
and adds a 5-star feel. Guests arrive and are escorted to a table. The menu is presented and the order is taken. A cold or hot towel is provided to recreate the relaxation typical of Zen principles. The fragrance of the towel takes the guests on a metaphorical journey to the Far East (lavender, jasmine, lemongrass…). The hot/cold towel is cleared, and freshly brewed tea and hot water are served.

A selection of hot and cold savoury treats is served on a individual plate: Ginger pork goyza with a chive and soy dip; Shredded duck wrap, cucumber and pomegranate hoi sin; Lapsang souchong marinated salmon lime crème fresh; and Green papaya salad, lotus root on a betal leaf. 

After the plate is cleared, a new plate is placed in front of the guest, and The Hempel patisserie stand is presented, inviting indulgence on specialities that include – on the top tier – Lychee and rose mousse served in a cone, and Coconut and mango panna cotta served in a glass. The plate is decorated with edible flowers that recreates a garden. On the middle tier, there are home-made plain and sultana scones served in a folded napkin, while the bottom tier has a selection of pastries and cakes including Green tea and sesame cake, white chocolate and jasmine tea macaroon, and Dark chocolate, earl grey and kumquat tart.

Last but not least, strawberry and hibiscus jam and clotted cream are served separately from the stand. All in all, absolutely irresistible!