(Photo credit: iStock by Getty Images)
By Lynsey Riach
As a proud Brit abroad I really know my teas – and, even more so, I really know my afternoon teas. Perhaps up for debate is how you should ‘take’ your tea (it’s milk first if you’re wondering) but in a city with plentiful offerings of scones and jam, I’ve tracked down the very best and brought them to you warm with a side of clotted cream.
First of all, let’s discuss the somewhat British obsession with tea. We like it. It cures all stresses and ailments and, really, a cup of tea can just make everything seem, well, better. That’s what we like to believe anyway; ask any British person and they’ll wholeheartedly agree. In fact, it’s a common item packed away in our luggage just in case we can’t track it down on holiday. Brand of choice is of course personal opinion, but mostly black tea or ‘English breakfast tea’ as it’s more widely known is our first choice of hot beverage. We, however, simply just call it ‘tea’.
We like it with milk most of the time and that milk should be cold, never ever hot. When I have family or friends staying they look on with sheer astonishment when I ask for ‘cold milk on the side’ they laugh at what an expat I have become, but trust me, drink tea with hot milk and you’ll never ever make that mistake again. One may add sugar if they like. Tea almost always tastes better when drank from a bone china cup and the pinky up cliché is entirely optional.
So the tradition and ritual of afternoon tea began circa Downton Abbey era, enjoyed mostly by the lords and ladies of those days who quaffed tea while delicately chomping on a selection of cucumber, egg, and cress sandwiches accompanied by warm scones with jam and clotted cream. It was considered a light meal between larger meals.
Nowadays, a formal afternoon tea is more of a special occasion, taken as a treat in a hotel in the late afternoon. Many consider it worthy only of those ‘ladies who lunch’ – when in fact the trend is surging among couples and friends, rivaling the late-night dining scene. An afternoon tea is often served on a tiered stand, with many venues now vying to compete for our attention by offering a unique twist on this traditional meal with concoctions raging from cake-pops to ice cream. Us Brits both gasp and show utter intrigue at this trend that keeps on unfolding.
So, where in town can we sample such afternoon delights?
(Photo credit: The Ritz-Carlton, Doha)
Just like its London home counterpart, this is pure tradition. Think giant scones onoffer in a beautiful, tiered stand complete with gold-plated cutlery that leaves you feeling rather royal. Finger sandwiches are made to crust-less perfection just as those offered back in Blighty (that’s Great Britain to us), and a sumptuous selection of sweet treats are whisked out on a gold trolley for you to take your pick from. Guaranteed, you’ll leave here with a goodie-bag.
Like the DNA that runs through this iconic hotel brand, you’ll find a bright and bold version of this classic past-time. Presented in a beautiful white bird-cage, pastel-coloured macarons meet with gold-gilded cookies, mini-baguettes, and scotch eggs, while croissants stuffed with cheese are neatly nestled next to red velvet cupcakes, and spoons scooped full of crème brulee. Whimsical, but worth every single mouthful.
The Golden one…
Café Murano, Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl-Doha With a tendency for all things chocolate, this award-winning café offers up more sweet than savoury with its Golden High Tea, as perfect pastries and delicate delicacies sit pretty on your afternoon tea-stand. Tiny sandwiches are dwarfed by chunks of cake guaranteed to be enough to share.
The grandest of all…
With more than 100 teas on offer (the largest in the region), my personal favourite being the TWG coconut tea for a super sweet change, this is without a doubt the place to indulge just like the daughter of the original St. Regis in New York City did – so much so they named it after her. The Lady Caroline Astor tea is wonderful all the way to the waistline.
Smoked salmon with cream cheese, roast beef, chicken with tarragon, and egg and cress sandwiches are stacked high above a selection of fine tarts, cakes, and biscuits. Scones are warm and crumbly, served on the side with a helping of jam. And, if we’re feeling really hungry, then why not feast upon a beautiful buffet set-up in the hotel lobby each Saturday with unlimited tea treats set among twines and tea pots to give this afternoon tea a quirky, yet still traditional feel.
Pinky finger up or not – enjoy!
Did we miss any of your favourite spots for afternoon tea from this list? Drop us a line in the comments below and let us know! Also, don't forget to give us a like and a share -- it keeps us going!
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