“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea”
– Henry James.
And so, I spent a very agreeable hour (or a few) catching up with a friend over Tipsy Tea at the eccentric but but oh-so-charming home of Phileas Foggs Esq., the (fictional) British adventurer brought to life by Jules Verne.
Warmly greeted at the entrance by a top hat-wearing gentleman clad in a Dragoon-uniform, we were led through Fogg’s grand drawing room adorned with memorabilia and other treasures amassed on his exploits, from a hot-air balloon to antique tiger skins and stuffed crocodiles.
Fellow guests varied from couples cozying up in corners to an animated and rather well-heeled group taking a break between shopping.
The sedate, composed ambience at tea time was striking in its difference to the more vivacious (although, always civilised) tone that usually sets in later in the evening, as Mr. Fogg’s is quite a popular Mayfair watering hole.
Any scepticism we may have held about alcoholic tea (particularly champagne tea!) was quickly dispelled upon sipping the aperitif that was served as we settled in. Presented with intriguing options, we ultimately chose well with the “Belvoir Castle” – a delicious infusion of jasmine tea, Tanqueray No. TEN gin, rose liqueur, pomegranate juice and cherry puree, topped with champagne. And the delightfully refreshing “Woburn Abbey”, English breakfast infused gin steeped in a teapot with crème de bergamot, lemon juice and bee pollen.
Accompanied by what can only be described as a scrumptious selection of sandwiches (they were kind enough to bring out a separate vegetarian selection for me), cakes and pastries – the pistachio cake especially went down a treat, as did the rich yet moist brownie!
What we really loved was the hearty feel to the eats, as all-too-often the focus at tea is on aesthetics and a delicate presentation, but with flavour and substance lost somewhere in the process.
A welcome reprieve from the banalities of every-day life, we found Tipsy Tea at Mr Fogg’s a captivating experience and one we would gladly repeat.
If you’d like to explore what else Fogg’s veritable treasure trove has to offer, do have a flick through to my more recent visit to his lovely terrace garden when we adventured around the world one cocktail at a time…
Mr. Fogg’s, 15 Bruton Lane, London W1J 6JD