The saying goes that the British can never get enough of their tea. This statement is steeped in truth. The quintessential afternoon tea is a long held tradition that holds a high regard on the international culinary scene. London’s Intercontinental Park Lane upholds this tradition with a unique take. Their answer to incorporating modern values into a time old tradition can be found in their new Guiltless Afternoon Tea. Our food and travel writing duo, Eulanda and Omo, discuss their ‘guiltless’ experience at Intercontinental’s Wellington Lounge.
Walking into the lobby of the Intercontinental Park Lane is akin to recognising the everlasting elegance of British design with the perfect touch of modernity. Located in the iconic Mayfair neighbourhood, directly across the street from the famed Hyde Park, the site was once 145 Piccadilly, Queen Elizabeth’s former childhood residence.
Although 145 was destroyed by the blitz of WWII, the grand hotel constructed in its place pays homage to its royal heritage through its many amenities and cuisine offerings.
We previewed Intercontinental’s Guiltless Afternoon Tea, hosted in the Wellington Lounge. This particular tea is a specially curated experience that is advertised as a healthy alternative to the typical British afternoon tea.
While most tea experiences indulge on sweets and carbs. Intercontinental’s Guiltless Tea doesn’t have any additional sugars, besides the naturally occurring ones already found in the fruits used to make certain treats.
The featured welcome drink was a ‘non-alcoholic’ distilled spirit with double dutch tonic water, lemon peel, and star anise. It was the perfect palette cleanser, with a refreshing finish.
We were quite impressed with the knowledge of our server, who passionately recounted the history of one of Queen Victoria’s favourite teas– first flush Darjeeling.
The highlight of the first course was flavourful green tea cured salmon, kale crisps with crème fraiche on a pumpkin seed cracker. Another notable inclusion was the quinoa, soy poached chicken, and spinach salad in roasted black garlic dressing.
Even the wholemeal scones and homemade winter berry compote kept along the guiltless theme. As one of us was gluten and dairy free, we could not partake in scones. However, Intercontinental can confidently accommodate any dietary preferences with advance notice. They replaced the scones with a platter of in-season fruit.
The crème de la crème was the final course. Presented on a clear, narrow serving platter, a beetroot and apple cake with dried unsweetened apricots, stood proudly next to a flourless chocolate and peppermint cake. The decadent tea mousse layered with compote of pears, pomegranate pistachio, berries and Greek yoghurt trifle proved to be the crown on the queen’s head.
The gluten and dairy free option was no less decadent. Upon the plate layed a large strawberry dipped in shimmering gold-chocolate next to a compote with sugar dusted berries. A miniature dark chocolate bowl was filled with exotic fruit salad, next to a delightful mint-green macaron, topped with gold leaf. The flavours were bright, fruity, and interesting all together.
We finished our guiltless tea experience with a warm and tangy red berry tea. We felt almost tempted to add a cube of sugar but stopped ourselves… we didn’t want to bring any unnecessary guilt to the table.
Intercontinental Park Lane. One Hamilton Place, Park Lane, London, W1J 7QY +44(0)20 7409 313. Guiltless Tea is available until 31st May, 2017. £42 per person.