Afternoon tea is a quintessentially British tradition, originated by the Duchess of Bedford in the 19th century, it’s the perfect excuse to indulge your taste buds with finger sandwiches, scones and patisseries.

The five-star hotel The Grand, York is known for its impressive afternoon tea, having been awarded the ‘Best Afternoon Tea’ by 2022 Condé Nast Johansens Award for Excellence.

Lauren Campey, Food and Beverage Service Manager at The Grand, York shares the secrets behind the award-winning afternoon tea, revealing what makes it so special. 

What are the essentials to a perfect afternoon tea?

“To create the perfect afternoon tea, you need to have a well-balanced combination of seasonally flavoured, delicate pastries, a varied selection of dainty sandwiches and light, fluffy scones which are complimented by the finest local teas and an elegant ambience.”

What is it about The Grand, York’s afternoon tea that makes it special?

“The afternoon tea at The Grand, York follows all the traditional aspects of afternoon tea that make it so popular across the country. However, there are several aspects that set our afternoon tea apart. We use only the freshest seasonal produce, and where possible utilise local suppliers and ingredients to ensure an authentic Yorkshire experience. We also believe it is best served in a relaxed and leisurely environment.”

“A lot of love and enthusiasm goes into the preparation behind the scenes from the chefs, as well as from the delivery by the front of house team, which we believe also helped us gain the ‘Best Afternoon Tea’ award.”

How do you decide which items are included in the afternoon tea?

“All items included in the afternoon tea, including our savoury and patisserie options are selected based on their seasonal availability. We also take into account the traditions and flavours which are tied to our local area.”

“With an ever-changing seasonal menu, it is also based on what produce is available at each time of the year to ensure that we are using ingredients at their most flavourful and ripe time, as well as at a time where they are most naturally occurring and therefore more sustainable.”

How do you serve the afternoon tea?

“Our afternoon tea is presented on a triple tiered stand. On the bottom layer is our savoury selection which can include sandwich fillings such as Roast Yorkshire Chicken Caesar and Herb Marinated Cucumber with Micro Cress Cream Cheese served in granary or white farmhouse loaf, which are cut into finger size with the crusts removed. We also include one non-traditional item in our savoury section, which is a black pudding sausage roll.”

“The second layer is our scones. The perfect scone should be light and fluffy, served warm with a generous helping of clotted cream and jam. Then the final layer is our patisseries, which can include indulgent delicacies such as Salted Carmel Choux Bun, with Caramelia Whipped Ganache and Maldon Salt.”  

What type of tea is used?

“For our tea selection, we use Taylors of Harrogate, both loose-leaf and bagged, as well as including our own secret Grand blend.”

What is the difference in the alternative afternoon teas?

“At The Grand, York we offer a few variations of the traditional afternoon tea. We offer the option to upgrade to a Prosecco, Champagne or Gin and Tonic afternoon tea.”

“We also offer a children’s afternoon tea, which is designed to offer the same afternoon tea experience but with a set of flavours and presentation which are more suitable, accessible and familiar to children.”

Is there any afternoon tea etiquette that should be followed?

“Sandwiches should be eaten first using your fingers, not with cutlery. Then move onto the scones, which should still be warm and broken in half by hand, rather than cut with a knife, with each half eaten separately. Patisseries should then be saved until last.”

“When it comes to making the tea, you should put your milk in first, then the tea should then be stirred back and forth, not in a circular motion. Also, you should avoid bashing the side of the cup with the spoon.”

Find out more about The Grand Hotel’s award-winning afternoon tea.

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