How To Eat Your Way Around The World In Afternoon Tea

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 10 months ago

Last Updated 20 September 2023

How To Eat Your Way Around The World In Afternoon Tea
International afternoon tea London: a table with various plates, bowls cups and glasses containing components of the Sri Lankan afternoon tea at Lyaness.
Sri Lankan is one of the cuisines represented by afternoon tea in London. Image: Ben Carpenter

Afternoon tea may have been born in England, but these days venues in London serve an array of internationally-themed menus — a pork bun here, a splash of turmeric there. Here's how to eat your way around the world in afternoon tea in London.

Chinese dim sum afternoon tea in London

International afternoon tea: various sweet and savoury dim sum served on a two-tier wooden stand
Ping Pong serves a dim sum afternoon tea at two of its venues.

The restaurant inside the Millennium London Hotel extends its Chinese offerings to its afternoon tea. The dim sum afternoon tea is split into savoury and sweet sections — begin with crispy shredded duck spring rolls and chai siu boa (barbecue pork bun). Follow up with the likes of red bean and pandan mochi cake, and fresh sliced mango.

Chinese afternoon tea at the Millennium London Hotel, Knightsbridge.

Elsewhere, dim sum restaurant Ping Pong launched its own afternoon tea in spring 2023. It's available at its St Christopher's Place and St Katharine Docks branches of the chain, with each diner tucking into three steamed and three fried dim sum (meat and veggie options are available), followed by a trio of desserts; a black coconut ice cream bao, a petit cheesecake and a petit chocolate fondant.

Dim sum afternoon tea at Ping Pong, St Christopher's Place and St Katharine Docks.

Indian afternoon tea in London

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We're huge fans of the afternoon tea offerings at Kona, inside Taj 51 Buckingham Gate hotel — previously home to a Sherlock Holmes menu, and currently serving up a charming Secret Garden-themed offering.

Away from literary characters, Kona also offers an Indian Jasmine afternoon tea, inspired by traditional spices from across the country, and a love of tea. Items on the menu include a masala mutton keema pinwheel, a khandvi chutney tart, a cheesecake raspberry sonpapri floss, and a Gulabi trifle served with mini rasmalai (sweetened balls of cottage cheese).

Indian Jasmine afternoon tea at Kona.

Elsewhere, Covent Garden's Cinnamon Bazaar, which is owned by legendary Indian chef Vivek Singh, offers an Indian take on British afternoon tea, inspired by Singh's roots in Kolkata. Begin with a selection of chaats (Indian savoury snacks) followed by dishes including a masala fish finger sandwich with tomato chutney, a spiced paneer roll, a saffron macaron, and coriander pistachio cake. Wash it down with a pot of tea of your choice: Assam, Early Grey, Jade Sword, White Peony or Masala Chai.

Indian afternoon tea at Cinnamon Bazaar, Covent Garden.

Yet another Indian-inspired afternoon tea can be found at Park Grand Lancaster Gate, where spiced sultana scones are served alongside assorted samosa and pakoda, papdi chaat, mango kheer tart, a selection of desserts, and Indian masala chai.

Indian-inspired afternoon tea at Park Grand Lancaster Gate.

Sri Lankan afternoon tea in London

International afternoon tea: a large plate with a variety of sandwiches and cakes, alongside a bowl of scones with pots of cream and jam, plus various cocktails.
Image: Ben Carpenter

Given that Sri Lanka is one of the world's foremost tea producers, it makes sense than the country is getting in on the London afternoon tea action with a Sri Lankan afternoon tea.

Ryan Chetiyawardana — aka cocktail maestro Mr Lyan — took inspiration from his parents' home city of Galle in Sri Lanka, when creating a new afternoon tea menu for his bar, Lyaness. It pairs food emulating the spices and flavours of the island of Sri Lanka — think mutton croquette with tomato sambal, and turmeric-spiced devilled egg —with specially created, (and rather extravagant) cocktails, such as a coconut flower daiquiri (Bacardi Carta Blanca, coconut water, lime, grapefruit and jaggery).

Sri Lankan High Tea at Lyaness, Sea Containers London.

Italian afternoon tea in London

International afternoon tea: a waiter placing a three-tiered stand full of sandwiches, cakes and scones, onto a table at TOZI
TOZI does afternoon tea with Italian flair.

When art'otel London at Battersea Power Station opened, so did TOZI Grand Cafe, a European Grand Cafe style restaurant which serves an Italian afternoon tea, blending English tradition with Italian flavours, representing different regions of the country.

The savoury tier consists of miniature panini with antipasti and charcuterie fillings in freshly baked ciabatta, focaccia, and pane carasau (a Sardinian flatbread).

The second tier holds a selection of maritozzi, an Italian take on scones, served with jam and whipped cream. Pasticcini (small pastries) baked in-house crown the top tier, including, cannoli with pistachio cream and Valborona chocolate tart.

Italian afternoon tea at TOZI Grand Cafe, Battersea.

Balinese afternoon tea in London

International afternoon tea: a circular wooden board with five pairs of different dishes including avocado sorbet.
A taste of Bali in Belgravia.

Wellness meets dining at the Bringing Bali to Belgravia experience at COMO The Halkin, which aims to transport diners to the shores of the COMO Shambhala Estate in Bali.

Savoury dishes include sweetcorn and basil soup; 'Real Toast' with seeds and avocado; and spiced crispy prawns and marinated chicken lolly with a rice salad and pomegranate seeds.

They're followed by cucumber jelly, apple and avocado sorbet; wholemeal banana waffles with peanuts and yogurt sauce; and mango and passionfruit cheesecake. The zen garden, made of protein rock, chocolate stone and matcha cake, is a highlight.

For bevvies, there's selection of juices and teas, including the COMO Shambhala ginger tea; the Lean and Clean Greens, designed to build lean muscle and boost energy and immunity; and the Blood Builder curated to cleanse the blood, improve circulation and lift your mood.

Balinese afternoon tea at COMO The Halkin, Belgravia.

French afternoon tea in London

A Balthazar plate containing five desserts, including a creme brulee and a Paris Brest. A hand is reaching in to take one of the items.
Get a Taste of Balthazar, Parisian-style.

Ooh la la! With its predilection for pastries and macarons, we're surprised more afternoon teas haven't adopted a French outlook. If that's what you're after, head to the restaurant and tea salon at Mariage Freres in Covent Garden, which serves afternoon tea ('Cournnement', or coronation, themed as of summer 2023, though this is likely to change).

The meal consists of three tea-infused savouries and three tea-infused delicacies — for although it is French, Mariage Freres is first and foremost a tea emporium — and two Parisian scones.

French afternoon tea at Mariage Freres, Covent Garden.

Just the other side of Covent Garden Piazza, French brasserie Balthazar celebrates the French capital with its Parisian-inspired 'Taste of Balthazar' afternoon tea. Though we still mourn the loss of the venue's American NY-Tea from a few years ago, we can get over it when phrases like "tarragon-poached chicken accompanied by truffle mayonnaise" and "Paris Brest, a delightful choux pastry filled with luscious praline cream" are thrown around.

Taste of Balthazar French afternoon tea at Balthazar, Covent Garden.

Japanese afternoon tea in London

Marylebone's Japanese-inspired hotel The Prince Akatoki offers a Japanese-inspired afternoon tea every weekend, serving dishes including Japanese egg rolled omelette, salmon nigiri, and spicy tuna maki, along with yuzu creme brulee and matcha and pistachio cake, among other desserts.

That's a treat for fans of Japanese cuisine, but even more special is the venue's monthly Koto Afternoon Tea, where you can tuck into similar Japanese fusion items while Japanese musician Keiko Kitamura performs live music on the koto, the national string instrument of Japan (hence the menu's name). A sake pairing is available too.

Japanese afternoon tea at The Prince Akatoki, Marble Arch.

Similarly, the Nobu Hotel London Portman Square offers an Ikebana (art of flower arranging) inspired Japanese afternoon tea, with an Eastern-Western fusion menu, and taster versions of some of the dishes on the restaurant's main menu, including a selection of cup sushi, crispy chicken kara-age, a hojicha cheesecake, and Nobu's famous Yellowtail jalapeño and tomato ceviche — also available in a vegetarian option

Japanese afternoon tea at Nobu Hotel London Portman Square.

Additionally, Japanese restaurant Ginza St James serves a Japanese afternoon tea menu, with items including black cod croquette with yuzu mayo, a BBQ wagyu slider, coconut tofu with blood orange compote, and mochi ice cream.

Japanese afternoon tea at Ginza St James.

American afternoon tea in London

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Purists would call it blasphemy, but as far as we're concerned, Burger Bites' American take on an afternoon tea is tasty, tasty perfection. Sandwiches and scones are switched out for mini burgers, which you can choose yourself from a pick 'n' mix style menu of 15 different flavours.  They're served alongside cupcakes, some of which are themselves topped with mini edible (sweet) burgers.

American burger afternoon tea at Bite Me Burger, Chalk Farm.

If you like the sound of that, you'd probably also enjoy the chicken wing high tea platter at Randy's in Hackney Wick, featuring wings, burgers, fries, coleslaw, brownies and pie, plus beet, milkshake, prosecco or soft drinks. High tea? Pah, we just call that Friday night.

Mexican afternoon tea in London

Chocolate and chilli brownie. Tequila-infused jam. The name of the Afternoon Teaquila should be enough of a warning that this isn't your average take-grandma-out-for-a-treat afternoon tea. But if that doesn't do it, the menu will.

Spice — and booze — is sprinkled throughout the Mexican-inspired menu at NYX Hotel in Holborn. Kick off with mini tacos and burritos, followed by scones (with that tequila jam), plus a zesty key lime chilli posset, seasonal fruit tart and a chilli and chocolate brownie.

Afternoon Teaquila at NYX London, Holborn.