Category: Reviews

Reviews tea rooms

A Tea-drinker’s Journey through Edinburgh Tea Rooms

This week’s post is written by Guest Contributor, Marie Peeler

A tea drinking journey through Edinburgh

Marie Peeler

“I’m what I refer to as a tea-nerd, AKA a tea-geek.

Not to be confused with a tea-professional, such as Caroline Hope, or simply a tea-drinker, like billions of people world-wide, a tea-nerd is enthusiastic about drinking, serving, and learning about tea without a business connection to justify the pursuit. I take courses about tea, partake of afternoon tea, visit tea plantations, and trade teas with like-minded friends, just because, well, I like to.

I’m also an avid  traveler and I love to combine my passions.  On a recent trip to Edinburgh, I sought out all manner of ‘tea-places’ and was richly rewarded for my efforts.  I was surprised just how many Edinburgh tea rooms were located within a short walking distance from the castle. On my first day of a two-week trip (I wasn’t wasting any time) I headed southwest and west of the Old Town on a search for places that sold or served tea. Here’s what I found.

ROSEVEAR TEA

A delightful shop on Bruntsfield Place, Rosevear Tea demonstrates what happens when people who truly love tea open a shop and only hire people who truly love tea. The shop has a clean, modern, yet warm aesthetic and the owners and staff are all knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and personable.

Interior of Rosevaer Teas in Bruntsfield Street.

While you may find a cake plate with something delectable on it to eat, Rosevear is not a café.  It is a tea shop and they are serious (but friendly) about tea.  With over 60 varieties of loose-leaf teas and herbal infusions the shop is a tea aficionadas paradise.

On this, my first visit, they had just added two Jukro teas from the Hadong Province of South Korea to their selection. I did not purchase the rare teas but thought them to be an impressive addition to their selection and I loved their enthusiasm for the teas. On a subsequent visit, craving a ‘comfort tea’ I purchased an organic blend called Bruntsfield Breakfast, which lived up to expectations for a robust full-flavored breakfast blend.

 

Pekoe Tea

From there, on a bit of a tea high, I floated about a quarter of a mile down the street to Pekoe Tea where I was quickly deflated. When I entered, someone sitting at the counter told me that “she’s” downstairs and would be up in a minute. When the woman being referred to did come upstairs, she ignored me and carried on talking to the person at the counter whom I surmised was a vendor. After a bit, I left without ever being acknowledged.

To be fair, I did try again later in my Edinburgh stay and this time I was greeted, but the shop, which stocks teas displayed mostly on lower shelves, and the tea selection itself, just weren’t appealing to me.

 

Loudons Café and Bakery

By this time, I was hungry, so I made my next and final stop of the day at Loudons Café and Bakery.

Exterior of Loudons

While not strictly a ‘tea-place’, Loudons made my list because:

  • They serve tea and value it enough to have a tea menu.
  • They serve cream tea, my favorite pick-me-up, as well as a more robust afternoon tea with little sandwiches (gluten free bread available), scones with jam and clotted cream, and cake, all with or without prosecco.

The tea menu is a well-curated, if quite basic, collection of the usual suspects: English Breakfast (also decaf), Earl Grey, Darjeeling, a black tea blend they call Blue Lady, Yunnan, Jasmine Dragon Pearl, an Oolong, and an assortment of herbal tisanes.  The website currently notes that Pekoe, mentioned above, supplies their tea.

If one desires something other than tea, the meal or the drink, Loudons has extensive breakfast, lunch, and coffee menus, as well as an amazing selection of tempting baked goods. Their scones were consistently good.  (I know.  I subsequently enjoyed them on multiple occasions.) For my American friends: Please note these were not the sugary triangle shaped confections that we call scones. Rather, these were proper English scones, the perfect base for sweet jam and clotted cream – you can learn to make these with Caroline!

 

Royal Mile Tea Rooms

Forsyth’s Tea Room

The next day on the Royal Mile, where I again searched for sustenance (read tea and scones), my first stop was Forsyth’s Tea Room.  Tucked inside a close, one of those tiny alleyways for which old Edinburgh is known, it was a bit tricky to find.  I was the only one there save the blue-haired lady owner behind the counter and the friend or employee with which she was chatting.  After I selected a table and waited a bit, frankly, the deserted windowless café felt creepy and inhospitable, so I escaped, apparently unnoticed.

 

Clarinda’s Tea Room

Back out on the bustling street, I made my way to Clarinda’s Tea Room, also on the Royal Mile.  Clarinda’s is bright, quirky, and was quite busy the day I was there.  Inside the entrance, there is a sign instructing patrons to share the tables.  But joining a table can be a bit of an awkward affair, as it’s easy to feel like a party crasher at the small tables.  The house tea at Clarinda’s is Brodies (the breakfast blend, I believe.) I thought it was a nice enough tea but if you order afternoon tea or cream tea and want something else, you must specify, and be prepared to pay extra.  This didn’t bother me as it was stated on the menu but it is a bit quirky and, online, some people were annoyed.

Clarinda’s is charming almost to the point of being kitschy and I believe that is, indeed, the establishment’s main draw. It’s not the service, which was adequate. It’s not the tastiness of the baked goods which I found a bit dry and some say are overly sweet.  It’s certainly not the cash-only policy which is another quirk and sends a steady stream of patrons in search of an ATM.  But with an abundance of cabbage rose wall-paper, mis-matched china, and Robert Burns memento laden walls, Clarinda’s has a certain vibe of old-fashioned ‘Britishness’ with a Scottish flavor that is enticing.

 

Anteaques

The lovely Anteaques found on Clerk Street between Old Town and Newington, was a treat, tinged with disappointment,  ONLY because I did not have time to truly savor it.

Interior of Anteaques Tea Room

I was there simply on a reconnaissance mission with the intention of returning later if I liked it, but it wasn’t to be.  I was there late in the day, having already eaten, and they were closing the next day for their summer holiday.  I was able, however, to briefly experience the knowledgeable and friendly service administered by the smartly attired staff at the tea counter, where I enjoyed learning about the varieties of tea that I was considering for purchase.

Dingudafung, Genmaicha and Jasmine Pearls from Anteaque Fine Teas

Tea shops and tea rooms can be vastly different enterprises.  Often, the former has little, if anything, to offer for a dining experience and the latter frequently does not have a highly sophisticated selection of teas or a high level of knowledge about tea. Anteaques was a welcome exception to both rules, with an extraordinary tea shop in the front of the place and a enticing tearoom set in an antique shop in the back.

I purchased lovely Keemun and Yunnan teas with the sadness that, at least on this trip, I would miss the experience of dining here.

 

Eteaket

My last tea stop was in New Town on Frederick Street at the Eteaket Tea Room. Eteaket also focused on both serving food and selling tea (with a tea concept store also around the corner) but didn’t feel so much like a tearoom as a modern café.

Interior of Eteaket

In addition to the traditional afternoon tea and cream tea, Eteaket offered a third iteration, called “High Tea.” I tend to think of High Tea as being larger and grander than afternoon tea because it evolved as a meal rather than a bridge between meals.  But, in fact, here it was smaller and just what I was looking for with a half sandwich, a scone with jam and clotted cream, a pot of tea and a mini-pastry.

I enjoyed my sandwich choice – the brie, pesto, and sundried tomato – as well as the scone, but I found my tea selection, the Jasmine Chun Hoa, to be a bit bitter.  I was surprised as I’ve not known Jasmine green teas to have a propensity for bitterness. However, the service was a bit slow, I waited a long while for the tea which came after my sandwich, and I had to wonder if it sat for a good bit before it was delivered to my table.

This disappointment aside, Eteaket offers nearly 40 different black, oolong, green, and white teas, herbal tisanes, and tea lattes.  I would certainly give them another try when in Edinburgh again.

And my conclusion……

I’d be delighted to do the entire Edinburgh tea rooms tour again..… with the addition next time of a few places that I missed.”

Marie Peeler

 Marie Peeler is an Executive Coach based in the USA, near Boston, MA.  Her firm, Peeler Associates, helps leaders focus on what’s most important, create action plans, and achieve their goals.  Living her dream life, Marie takes her work worldwide, house and cat sitting in the UK and other foreign lands and indulging her passion for tea.

 

 

Brewing Tea Reviews Tools and Equipment Types of Teas

Tea Review: The Tea Makers, London

Review of tea from The Tea Makers, LondonCaroline Hope Review of The Tea Makers

A few weeks ago I was sent a sample pack of teas to review from The Tea Makers of London. If you are thinking of buying anything tea-related for Christmas, their website is well worth a look – they have some beautifully presented products and a wide variety of teas. I asked my friend, Hugo to come and help me with the tasting as he is passionate about different teas, drinks and food. (He once presented me with a gift of smoked eel from his travels, for which I don’t think I was very grateful !). Here is our verdict…

Tea Tasting - The Tea Makers
My friend Hugo smelling the aroma of  the tealeaves

Tea Types

A box duly arrived containing three teas, along with an unusual Tea infuser in which to brew the tea.

The three teas and infuser were:

For all three teas, I used freshly boiled water (100 degrees) and water straight from the tap. All three teas were brewed for 4 minutes before separating the leaves from the liquor. Here are our thoughts…

The Tea Makers DarjeelingDarjeeling House Blend

We both liked this. It had a pale, lively looking liquor and the leaves had a grassy, lemony aroma. The tea was soft, or smooth on the tongue with a slightly astringent finish. It has the typical floral sweet aroma of a good Darjeeling. I have also given this to other people and they have commented how nice it is. I would anticipate it is a blend of first and second flushes and recommend drinking this tea without milk.

 

 

 

The Tea Makers English BreakfastEnglish Breakfast

I noted this was a blend of 100% Ceylon teas, which I found interesting. English Breakfast is traditionally a blend of Assam, Ceylon and Kenyan teas in varying proportions according to the tea merchant. I was interested to see if this tea would deliver a similar punch. I felt the dry leaf was very dark in colour, almost inky black and looked quite ‘skinny’. According to Hugo “….. the wet leaf was very dark and had an agricultural aroma”. The liquor had a caramel colour and, despite not being as heavy as some English breakfast blends, it still packed a good punch to get you going in the morning. I would suggest serving this with milk. It is typical of what is perceived today as a ‘British’ tea.

The Tea Maker's Luxury Ceylon PekoeLuxury Ceylon Pekoe

This was an interesting looking tea. The dry leaf had a greeny/grey hue and was rolled, presumably by hand, to almost look like some Oolong teas I have had. The brewed liquor was quite orange in colour, you could feel the tannins on the tongue, and it had a certain muddiness in taste – hints of puerh. For me, this was an unusual tea for Ceylon.

 

The Magic Infuser

The Magic Infuser from The Tea MakerYou can brew the tea in the infuser as you would a glass tea pot, and you gain a sense of theatre as you watch the leaves change colour.

Once the tea is brewed you then place it over a mug or small pot and the liquor is released into the receptacle, leaving the spent leaves behind in the receptacle. For me, this is a tad gimmicky and I don’t find it an attractive looking object. It is made of plastic, so could be subject to staining in time. I also feel it does really retain the heat well enough during the brewing process for a black tea. The volume at 500ml is really suitable for 2 mugs and switching from one mug to another takes a bit of practice. Possibly it is more suited to brewing green or oolong teas that don’t require boiling water. There is no reason also why you could not rebrew the (green/oolong) leaves.

Overall View

I think The Tea Makers are well worth a look to buy some unusual teas this Christmas – one of my students on the City Lit tea tasting course ordered a lot of their sampling packs and was very pleased with what she received. They also do the tea pyramids or Trianes, superior large tea bags in which you can see the large leaves unfurling.

Thank you to Tea Makers of London for the opportunity to write a review of their teas. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Reviews Tea Time Bakes

Up On a Mountain Top in The Lake District I Contemplate: What Makes Tea Special?

Lak District Hike with Mountain Hikes

I recently went on a hiking week-end in the beautiful Lake District with my hosts Kevin and Yen Yau from Mountain Hikes. Even in the outdoors and in the basic of environments I was reminded of the specialness of “hosting” that comes with serving tea – in any location.Group mountain hike, Lake District

“Shall I be mother?” Kevin said as he surveyed the assorted small teapots in which he had brewed tea in the Youth Hostel kitchen. Tired and happy, eight of us were sitting in the pool room of the Keswick YHA after our first day’s hiking in the Lake District. Kevin’s partner Yen had placed a pile of beautifully light, scones, she had freshly baked the night before. All of us dived into the clotted cream and home made jam as Kevin then poured out mugs of tea for us.tea and cake

The tea parties at the end of each of our walks provided such a warm and welcoming highlight to each day that the functional furnishings of the Youth Hostel around us just disappeared. It was the display of care and love in the preparation of the food and the brewing of our tea that I still hold in my mind as I write.

Tea party at Youth Hostel, Lake Dsitrict

Kevin had taken on the role of the host having brewed and poured the tea. I find it intriguing to realise that even with the most basic of tea parties there was a tug from the past that dates back three hundred years.

In the early 18th century tea drinking was embraced by a burgeoning, newly rich urban 18th Century Tea Party‘middling’ class to demonstrate their skills of politeness and ‘genteelness’. They were copying the recent fashion embraced by the very small elite strata of society whose wealth had been derived from land ownership. What better way to show off knowledge of polite behaviour and good taste than for the lady of the house to orchestrate her own tea making ceremony, laying out her delicate tea equipage? I am sure that without realising it you have seen contemporary paintings and prints in which you see a family ensemble taking tea. These pictures are akin to Instagram or Facebook posts of today telling the world that the recorded group is sophisticated and fashionable. In these paintings it is the lady of the house who is demonstrating her skill and technique in making the tea and it would have been disrespectful to have tried to usurp her position and pour from her tea pot.

Kevin was taking on this role in a public place i.e. by suggesting that he play ‘mother’ he would take on the position of authority at our tea table. This used to happen when women started going out for tea in the 20th century: if two friends were to meet one of them would take on the role of pouring the tea and thus in charge of requesting more hot water, fresh pot, etc. This saying has possibly died out now as most hotels and cafes usually serve individual pots of tea and we each take ownership of that to pour out. Food is fine to help yourself but with the serving of tea you wait to be offered.

What makes tea special?

It is the sitting down together, conversing and enjoying a refreshing cup along with the secret ingredients of care and love. Kevin and Yen Yau provided this in spades and I urge you to join them next year on one of the hiking weekends in the Lake District. Yen might even give you her secret scone recipe!

Tea Party on the balcony

I would highly recommend looking at Kevin and Yen’s website > Mountin Hikes. They provide guided walks in the Lake District as well as hiking and yoga breaks.  You can follow them on Twitter at @Mountain_hikes or on Facebook at Lakes Mountain Hikes.

Reviews

My Review of the “High Spirits Afternoon Tea” at The Paramount, Centrepoint, London

Update to this post 3 Feb 2015: The Paramount Bar and Restaurant has since closed their doors (as part of a larger redevelopment plans for Centre Point).

high spirits afternoon tea review by caroline hope

It fascinates me how Afternoon Tea is moving further and further from the original idea of serving food that would complement that perfect cup of tea sometime after noon. The High Spirits Afternoon Tea served at the Paramount has quite a different energy to any images of a languid Victorian meal that its title seems to conjure up.

Afternoon tea is described thus in the 1893 edition of Mrs Beeton’s book of Household Management which was the era in which I would suggest that this meal reached its apogee (there is no mention of the meal in the first edition of 1861).

This is the opening chapter on Teas from Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, Ward Lock, 1893:
“Under the head of “Teas” how many different meals are served? We say “meals”, perhaps, incorrectly, for the afternoon cup of tea (in many fashionable houses the only tea served) can scarcely come under this head: but independent of this, we have wedding teas, high teas, “at home” teas, ordinary family teas, and in some old fashioned places, whose inhabitants have not moved with times, still a quiet tea where people are invited to partake of such nice things as hot buttered toast, tea cakes, new laid eggs, and home-made preserves and cake. A pleasant meal, that is only the precursor of a good supper, of which we shall speak later on.”

The Paramount (restaurant and bar) provides a sophisticated, very urban meal that has overtones of the world of James Bond. Each morsel of food is infused with alcohol. That, along with the sugar, provides such a giddy rush of energy, that neither I, nor my guest, Samantha Pearce, were brave enough to dive into a cocktail for which the Paramount is famous for serving, and feebly opted for a virgin Mohito each.high spirits afternoon tea paramount, tea tray

The cocktail theme runs through the presentation of the food. Rather than serving conventional cakes and pastries, the focus was on presenting, each deliciously concocted alcohol laced dessert in unusual miniature cocktail glasses and jars. See the wonderful Amaretto Sour and Porn Star Martini

The sandwich shapes were almost created to mirror the high rise buildings that we viewed from our window side table – 385ft above the London streets.

Everything was snappy, smart and exciting and very much in keeping with the character and feel of the bar.

Possibly, the least discernible part of the meal was the tea itself. The strong boozy flavours permeating the food and the Virgin Mohitos rather overwhelmed the senses. The tea is supplied by Blends for Friends. Samantha had a Classic Black and I had the Altitude Afternoon. Both were good on the initial tasting but needed to be drunk quickly before going slightly bitter. However that is a minor quibble as we were both offered fresh pots of tea on request.

I urge you to go for the sheer joy of being so high above London and enjoying a really unusual take on this meal. Whether Mrs Beeton would approve is quite another matter!high spirits afternoon tea, view from paramount restaurant

For more information or to book a “High Spirits Tea at the Paramount” – call them directly on 0207 420 2900. NOW CLOSED

The address is: Paramount Restaurant and Bar, Centrepoint, 101 – 103 New Oxford Street, London WC1A 1DD. The tea is served between 2.30pm – 4.30pm. At the time of writing the cost is £28 per person, or with a cocktail…£42 per person.

History of Tea Reviews

Masterpiece London 2014 | Art, Antiques, Design – My Review

Masterpiece London

My lovely friend, Charlotte Howard, invited me to join her to see Masterpiece 2014, a rather amazing and professionally presented exhibition of Art, Antiques and Design that took place in the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. It had that quiet opulence of soft beige carpets; our feet sank into it as we walked around.

There were some really stunning pieces on display and I felt a surge of thrilled excitement on seeing some fabulous chinoiserie pieces, just because it is so much in my mind with my newly devised History of Tea Tour at the Victoria & Albert Museum. (Find out more about the personalised tours here.)

I was really taken with some mirrors (or girandoles) and two delicate chinoiserie cabinets on thePagoda Girandoles Apter Fredericks stand and so enjoy seeing this influence from China – the mysterious and exotic country from which tea originated. It was not just tea that captured the imagination of the rich Europeans in the 17th and 18th century that resulted in this delicate liquor becoming Great Britain’s national drink. It was the overall sheer exoticism of items arriving from the land known as Cathay that really intrigued and stuck in our imagination.

Why should this be? I feel it is partly down to ‘less is more.’

During the 14th and 15th centuries, China had closed its borders to the barbarians of Europe with only a few travellers such as Marco Polo returning with information. No-one could check if these returning stories were true; so those about the great beauty and infinite luxuries of this far off land were greatly embellished and even fabricated. Perhaps this excerpt from Chinoiserie, The Vision of Cathay, by Hugh Honour aptly describes it?

“Cathay is, or rather was, a continent of immeasurable extent lying just beyond the eastern confines of the known world. Of this mysterious and charming land, poets are the only historians and porcelain painters the most reliable topographers. They alone can give an adequate impression of the beauty of the landscape with its craggy snow-capped mountain ranges and its verdant plains sprinkled with cities of dreaming pagodas and intersected by meandering rivers whose limpid waters bear whole fleets of delicately wrought junks, all-a flutter with bedraggoned pennants and laden with precious cargoes of jade, porcelain, samite, silk, green ginger, and delicately scented teas.”

“Besides their banks the palm and weeping willow flourish amidst phoenix-tail bamboos and a proliferation of exotic flora. Giant flowers abound here: chrysanthemums which tower above the men who tend them, paeonies which dwarf the birds nesting in their branches, and convolvulus whose blossoms serve as hats, as parasols, and even, on occasion, as the roofs of huts. Indeed the natural landscape is so beautiful that when laying out their gardens, the cathaians could desire no more than to reproduce it on a miniature scale, with paths serpenting round hillocks of artificial rock-work, sinuous rills, and forests of tiny gnarled trees.”

“The fauna is no less extraordinary. Huge and fiery dragons lurk in every mountain cave; gaudy birds with rainbow-hued plumage swoop over the plains; butterflies the size of puffins hover round the pendant blooms of Wisteria sinensis; and diaphanous-tailed goldfish play amidst the water-lilies and chrysolite rocks of stream and pond.”

Can you imagine the excitement as more and more items flowed from this continent ‘lying just beyond the confines of the known world’?

Nothing previously known could compare with the exoticism of hand painted wallpapers, lacquered and gilded furniture, woven silks, carpets, chintzes, delicate porcelain and of course the highly prized tea.

In time many of these luxury goods were to be manufactured throughout Europe as our native Painted Jug Vasecraftsmen emulated the skills and styles of the Orient, creating the mythological and idealised vision of this remote culture. Sometimes it was difficult to tell which pieces were originally Chinese or European.

It gives me a little thrill each time I see any oblique references to tea drinking. From visiting a modern day art and antiques exhibition such as Masterpiece, walking past the stunning de Gournay showroom in Old Church Street, Chelsea and then burrowing around in the British Galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum, everywhere there are strands of information interwoven with tea.

I would love to welcome you on one of my personally guided “History of Tea Tours” of the V & A. This tour is perfect for those who want to explore the history of tea drinking from its origins in China and East India to the height of its popularity in Georgian Britain, where it touched the English interior and forever shaped British culture.

The Tour includes not only the guided tour hosted by myself, but also a donation to the museum; printed tour notes; and of course tea and cake when we finish. Prepare to share two and a half hours with me on this tour. Reserve a place for yourself at only £42 per person >> click here.

Reviews Tea Time Bakes

Tea Time – A Themed Celebration of The Royal Chelsea Flower Show

Caroline at the Intercontinental Westminster

What a wonderful afternoon I had with Hilary Newstead at the Intercontinental Westminster Hotel. I had been invited to review their Edible Garden afternoon tea, which was created to coincide with the Chelsea Flower Show.

Despite the fact that I spend innumerable hours teaching classes around English tea time (including cake or scone baking; tasting fine teas or looking at the history of English tea drinking), it is quite rare  for me to go “out to tea”. It was a real treat to review the Edible Garden Afternoon Tea at the Intercontinental , enjoy free flowing Laurent Perrier champagne and indulge in a glorious feast of exquisite garden-themed patisserie creations.

I took so many pictures – the food was just a feast for the eyes with the glass cloche centrepiece, under which our cakes nestled in a bed of dark (and edible) soil.

Lifting the glass cloche displaying the edible garden
Lifting the glass cloche displaying the edible garden

The Gorgeous Teatime Treats

How did the food taste?

The Pea and Basil Tart
The Pea and Basil Tart

Fresh, delicious and as it should be! When I got down to tasting each little treat as it was presented, they were divine. The biggest winners for me were the miniature Chelsea Bun and the Garden Pea and Basil Tart. I normally avoid currents and dried fruits  but this Chelsea Bun had been created by someone who understood what they were doing. There was almost more fruit than bun dough; the spicey, citrusy, moist fruit enveloped my tongue.  Likewise the pea and basil tart; the burst of fresh baby peas exploding in my mouth.

 

The quality of the tea:

More delicious treats
More delicious treats

We drank some exceptionally good teas that were supplied by Jing Teas. I had a Second flush Darjeeling that had nectar-like qualities and Hilary had a superlative Japanese Green Sencha, about which she was very excited as she had not tried before.

The Hotel, the service and the presentation:

The hotel excelled in all the areas that mattered:  superbly attentive waiters and bar staff who were knowledgeable and not at all officious; spotless and beautifully presented silverware and porcelain, comfortable chairs into which  we could just sink whilst indulging ourselves.

The only negative I have, and this is more one of a personal dismay, is to question why it is necessary to go to such lengths to design cakes to no longer look like food. This is not to doubt the skills of the pastry chefs – their technical virtuosity was par excellence – but why is it is necessary?  Nowadays afternoon tea seem to be a competition about who can ‘design’ the most ‘clever’ feast for the eyes.

I am with Sir Henry Cole on his theory of good design. He states that good design takes into account the intrinsic quality of the material being used.  For example a woven piece of fabric into which a flower motif has been woven displays the virtuosity of the woven fabric whereas a flower design that is printed onto a fabric will not display the quality of the weave – the printed pattern is what is seen and nothing more.

Perhaps this is what I found difficult with this meal – I was being asked to admire the cleverness of the pastry chef in creating clever little concoctions such as a chocolate flower pot, a garden wall or edible earth. However  the delights we feasted on were neither particular to the season during which we were eating it, nor could we see the qualities of the cake or pastry shining through the designed piece.

But this is one of my little bees that buzz around in my bonnet and a minor quibble.  I shall definitely return. Thank you Intercontinental Westminster, for a truly exceptional and wonderful afternoon.