I was feeling a bit knackered on a cold winter afternoon last weekend. The idea of a formal British afternoon tea complete with scones, crustless sandwiches, and delightful pastries sounded like a wonderful way to awake my body and the soul. But not having a Mary Poppins umbrella to get to Great Britain, where would I find such a tea experience?
I wangled a plan. Outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in an affluent town named Radnor, exists a delightful establishment called Taste of Britain which offers a Full Afternoon Tea for a mere 20 USD.
I was pretty sure this place was going to be good because nowhere on their website does it say ‘Ye Olde’ or ‘Shoppe’. Additionally a reservation really seems to be a must at any hour on a weekend. Albeit inconvenient, always a good sign.
Formal Afternoon Tea
The first step in having formal afternoon tea is picking your loose tea. Taste of Britain offer a broad selection of Black Teas, Flavored Black Teas, Decaffeinated Black Teas, Oolong and Pu-erh, Green and White Teas, Rooibos, and Herbal Tea.
I am a big fan of Pu-erh tea for both its taste and health benefits. But on the other hand, I love Black Teas and went with Scottish Highlands, which is a mix of Assam, Ceylon, and Keemun. My companion had a green tea.
But then came the ace of the experience: The three tiered food presentation.
Tier 1: 16 tea sandwiches (8 for each of us) with the crust cut off and the points perfect. The varieties that day were egg salad, ham and cheese, cream cheese with crunchy vegetables, and a tandoori chicken spread – the last two particularly standing out for their balanced yet full tastes.
Tier 2: Freshly baked, slightly warm, tender yet crusty scones served with clotted cream, lemon curd, and strawberry preserves. Heavenly. To me, clotted cream is right up there with gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Tier 3: As if we needed them, a plate of beautiful mini-pastries. The cupcake stood out with its crown, not overly sweet frosting, and rich quality chocolate taste.
Eat this meal and you will not feel peckish for quite a while.
The Tea Room and Ambiance
The room is small but well-appointed and the ambiance is festive in a restrained way.
A few random thoughts:
- The staff is knowledgeable and friendly. To align expectations, they are not all British and didn’t pretend to be. They all seem to have very nice teeth (sorry that was too easy).
- The restaurant also has a full menu for breakfast and lunch.
- They offer a Gluten Free Afternoon Tea. I personally love the taste of Gluten, but for those who don’t or can’t, you will have options here.
- There is a small but nice gift shop in the front.
- If you go, maybe don’t go with someone like my friend who was trying to take the piss out of me by talking in a fake British accent that sounded like a bad mix of Australian, Canadian, and Cajun. Cheeky.
Spend Some Extra Time
The restaurant sits in Eagle Village which is a plaza of specialty shops that are fun to browse in, but priced for people who just can’t figure out any other way to spend their excessive money because they have way too much.
Across the street is a Lancaster County Farmers market featuring Amish and Pennsylvania Dutch specialties (which apparently have little in common with Holland Dutch specialties) .
Thank you for reading, when in the greater Philadelphia area, I highly recommend you check out a Taste of Britain for something fun and different, and cheerio.