There is nothing more exquisitely British than taking Afternoon Tea. The ritual of steeping tea, eating sandwiches without crusts and dainty cakes brings to mind expensive surroundings, maybe a scene from Downton Abbey with butlers and footmen bringing the various components gracefully and silently.
In reality Afternoon Tea comes in all shapes and sizes. We have sampled Afternoon Tea offerings in three different places so far whilst writing this blog; each one has been a very individual experience despite the consistent traditional elements of each. Sandwiches with no crusts, small cakes and scones accompanied either by tea or coffee depending on taste.
We were invited to Boringdon Hall, just outside Plymouth, to sample their Festive Afternoon Tea. A traditional affair with a festive spin which is currently on offer on the run up to Christmas. This festive feast also includes Santa Bellies, Macaron Santas, Fresh Scones and Coronation Chicken sandwiches all accompanied by Mulled Wine (we didn’t realise until after we left!) and a huge list of teas to choose from.
Boringdon Hall Hotel and Gaia Spa is a historic location just on the edge of Plympton. The full history of the house is recounted on their website (there is a lot of it!) but to give you a general jist it was noted in the Domesday Book as a permanent building! It passed through a series of owners throughout the years, but was gifted to the National Trust in 1951 along with Saltram House who was owned by the Parker family. The Trust decided not to keep Boringdon and it was sold to new owners and converted into a hotel.
The building towers over guests as they enter the old oak door, latched and heavy like the door of a parish church, the hallway is dominated by a large painted board with a brief history of Boringdon Hall for visitors to read. Within a couple of seconds a friendly face appeared and took us to the restaurant.
The restaurant is situated in a large hall with a high ceiling. Emblazoned on the wall is the Boringdon coat of arms above a fireplace, in the corner was a lofty beautifully decorated Christmas tree. It was, despite the size of the room, really cosy!
We were taken to our table by a lovely chap who made sure we were comfortable and had everything we needed. Our table was situated on the gallery looking over the main hall, a lovely space for a bit of people watching and admiration of the Christmas tree!
Boringdon Hall is definitely one for tea lovers. Available is the traditional Afternoon Tea which runs throughout the year, and then the Festive version which is only on for a limited time. Both allow you to have the most amazing range of teas.
I chose the Gunsmoke Chinese tea which was wonderfully delicate, with a distinct smokiness that lingered nasally but not in an unpleasant way. The service was attentive and friendly, our server was a friendly lady that kept us topped up with tea and coffee as we gently munched our way through the tea.
For us the highlight of the show was the scones. Fresh, warm and light but not too light – Tori commented that these were most probably the best ones she had eaten during a review.
Scott Paton has done wonders with this lovely Afternoon Tea. The Festive Afternoon Tea also includes a free glass of mulled wine! A thorough recommendation from us!
“Our monthly special edition afternoon teas are carefully selected to complement the time of year, season or national occasion. Each edition is individually designed to feature sweet treats and delicacies to compliment the theme.”
Festive Afternoon Tea – 17th November until 31st December.
£30 per person, includes a glass of Mulled Wine
‘Figgy pudding’ – Treacle tart topped with fig mousse
Yule log Santa belly
Plain and fruit scones
Homemade preserve and clotted cream
Coronation chicken sandwich
This meal was provided as a sample review meal by Boringdon Hall.