Come Autumn come our holiday – after the house move a simple staycation was required. However, it would be silly not to enjoy a taste of Central London during our time off. As a rule, our go-to treat is a delicious afternoon tea. And we do have previous, we’ve tea’d in Cornwall at the Devonport Inn, God’s Own Junkyard Walthamstow and the National Portrait Gallery. This time we both hankered after the indulgence of a London hotel and settled on the Ham Yard, just north of Piccadilly Circus.
Anyone for tea?
The rain continued to fall and I was starting to think we would need a Wherry into town rather than the Tube. We arrived slightly damp but all smiles and anticipation, only to find the Ham Yard Hotel was fully booked with no afternoon teas left. Regular readers of this blog will already know this is a habitual problem, our misguided belief that you do not need to book when going to a popular eatery in a tourist location – LET US ALL LEARN … YOU DO! Our spirits now as damp as our clothes we sat outside to consider our options – Open Table once more came to our rescue.
This is how we ended up walking through the doors of TWG Tea on the North West corner of Leicester Square, opposite M&M’s World. The TWG Tea Building is a mix of glass, marble, golden metals and wood giving a feeling of opulence as you head upstairs to the restaurant. TWG has firmly placed itself in the heritage camp, with its branding and the interior screaming history with tea urns and artifacts, the year 1837 is emblazoned across everything. Surprise surprise they were founded in 2008 (TWG stands for The Wellbeing Group) in Singapore, 1837 is merely there to celebrate when the island became a trading post for teas – clever marketing.
We were warmly welcomed and asked to visit the tea museum (a small area of display cabinets at one end of the restaurant) while our table was being prepared. Once seated we had a wide range of teas to choose from (unsurprisingly) and unusually a selection of afternoon teas.
A choose the Five O’clock Tea, followed by the ‘London’ afternoon tea for two (other options were the Singapore and Parisian). Two round ball teapots arrived along with two 3-tier cake stands, it looked lovely, good presentation. Level one housed the finger sandwiches, three of these, not too small and one sweet milk bread roll. The fillings were traditional English inspired: Moroccan mint tea infused tzatziki and cucumber sandwich, coronation chicken with French Earl Grey infused raisins, smoked salmon sandwich with Lemon Bush Tea infused crème fraîche and a brioche bun with egg mayonnaise and watercress infused with Sencha Prestige. The combinations were yummy and an interesting twist at TWG with the use of tea infusion, which gave the flavours extra complexity.
Moving on up we came to the defining level of the ‘London’ two scones, tea jelly and (whipped?) cream. Their good looks however were not backed up with deliciousness. The scones were heavy, the jelly insipid and the cream simply didn’t turn up (metaphorically speaking), sadly we moved on to the desserts leaving one scone each behind so as not to weigh us down.
Desserts, how can you go wrong? TWG did well, with a small selection of tea-infused patisseries, conceived and crafted fresh daily. We did reasonably well, although one was white chocolate which neither of us likes, but the macaron melted in the mouth.
Listen in to our post-tea chat, and please share and rate the podcast so that others can find it.
Would we recommend TWG Tea, sadly no. A lot was very good but if you use the ‘would we return’ test it was decided that there are better places for this price, sorry TWG .
Loo Review (PMC Rating): ★★★★★. Individual unisex toilets with their own sink and importantly sparkling clean.
TWG Tea,48 Leicester Square London WC2H 7LT Friday, 4th October 2019