Cast aside that cappuccino. Leave the latte alone. Tea is brewing up a storm. Yes, the charming, relaxed ritual of afternoon tea is back in fashion. Underpinning this renaissance are the health benefits of tea, although it has always been considered something of a tonic: “If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; if you are depressed, it will cheer you; if you are excited it will calm you”. So said William Gladstone, Britain’s former prime minister, back in 1865.
Claridges may have been named London’s finest venue for afternoon tea in The Tea Guild’s 2011 awards (dubbed the Oscars of the tea world), but for a designer twist on the mid afternoon meal, Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley can’t be beaten.
Prêt-à-Portea adds a creative twist to the classic elements of the traditional English afternoon tea with cakes and pastries inspired by the latest catwalk designs –The Berkeley pastry chefs visit London fashion week shows to get their inspiration for the colours and the textures of the new collections.
For Summer 2011, expect to see fashionista delectables such as a Roger Vivier black and white chocolate striped summer heel and Victoria Beckham’s much talked about summer tote, made of sponge cake with peach-coloured chocolate crocodile print, on the tea stand. Other treats include Tory Burch’s summer dress of vivid orange and pink (recreated in the summer flavours of strawberry and rhubarb with Emmanuelle sponge) and Miu Miu’s navy blue and white bikini with large bow (a vanilla biscuit piped with sugar icing), all served on a bespoke collection of Paul Smith fine china.
Prêt-à-Portea is served in The Caramel Room at The Berkeley from 1-6pm every day, priced at £36.50 per person (£46.50 including a glass of Laurent Perrier champagne, £53.00 per person including a glass of couture champagne). To make a reservation for Prêt-à-Portea, please call 020 7235 6000.