My sister loves Alice in Wonderland and I love cake, so it seemed only fitting that I take her to an Alice inspired afternoon tea for her birthday. I’ve decided that this is the best possible gift to give someone. Not only do they get the enjoyment of the afternoon tea but so do I, which is totally a win-win situation.
Themed afternoon teas are my favourite – there’s always something different to both fill you up and to entertain you and the Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea didn’t disappoint. Set in the Sanderson Hotel just off Oxford Street, from the outside it looks like a simple office building and nothing fancy at all. Inside though, the reception and bar area is decked out with a random collection of various shaped chairs which we obviously both got comfy on straight away. I guess it made sense that such a unique hotel would hold something as quirky as a Mad Hatter’s tea party!
The garden area where the tea is served was beautiful with dainty white garden furniture surrounding a flowing fountain and pond, with lanterns covering the awning above. Our table was covered in flowers and crockery that matched the theme. There were so many little details that added to the afternoon, from riddles wrapped around our napkins to king and queen teapots wearing crowns.
But it was the pretty music box full of sugar cubes and the old antique looking book that drew my eye. I couldn’t decide whether to read first or eat my cake!
Little glass jars full of tea leaves were waiting for us and we got sniffing to decide which to try. Nothing beats a pot of good old English breakfast tea but the flavours and smells of the selection here were too hard to resist and I knew that, in true Mad Hatter fashion, I was unlikely to come across these teas anywhere else. I went for the Cheshire Cat, a blend of marmalade infused with chocolate and orange, while my sister picked the Mad Hatter, a green tea infused with passion fruit, guava and mango. Both were delicious, my sister’s being fruity and more tea-like while mine tasted just like chocolate orange. Mmm!
I have never seen such a flamboyant and colourful display as when our cake tiers arrived. The soft fresh scones on the bottom tier were completely overlooked at first (which never usually happens when I’m around) because the top two tiers full of quirky cakes were too impressive not to gawp at and drool over.
The Blue Caterpillar, magic marshmallow mushrooms, the White Rabbit’s pocket watch macaron, a red velvet ladybird, banana bread-and-butterly, the Queen of Hearts Oreo cookie solider, and a curious carrot meringue hidden in a bed of grass on top…and this was just my sister’s selection!
I have a nut allergy which often means that I’m stuck with treats that aren’t quite as interesting as those everyone else gets, but I loved that my cakes here were still just as wacky and fun as the normal selection. Especially the chocolate ganache and raspberry tart which was A-MAZE-ING and my mouth seems to fill with saliva every time I think about it.
Not forgetting the “Drink Me” potion that Alice is famous for, we sipped at the tiny glass bottle filled with passion fruit puree, coconut cream and exotic fruit foam. Sweet and creamy but with a fruity tang, it was definitely delicious but unfortunately it didn’t shrink us and send us into Wonderland.
I now realise that I have completely bypassed the savoury section and just went straight in for the cakes! We did of course have a savoury selection to start but clearly the sweet treats were just too mouth-watering not to tell you about first. Not that the sandwiches weren’t good because of course they too were completely different to the usual finger sandwiches and this was the first time that I have seriously considered asking for some more.
A smoked salmon, quail egg and caviar scotch egg; Wiltshire ham and smoked applewood croque-monsieur; a Cornish crab éclair; and a cream cheese and cucumber sandwich on lime bread (the green bread may not look particularly appetising but it really really was). My sister had the vegetarian option and her avocado cream in a bamboo cone was surprisingly tasty and, of course, extremely quirky.
All washed down with a fruity and syrupy cocktail, we were both so full by this point that we had to ask for a little goody bag to take our leftovers home in. But this didn’t stop still more treats from arriving at our table in the form of the cutest little flower pots on a bed of grass, filled with passion fruit ice cream, chocolate and honeycomb sprinkles with a pretty little flower on top. In true dessert lover style, we obviously dug in and stuffed ourselves some more and I’m pretty sure no one would blame us for this.
It was the most weird and wonderful way to spend an afternoon and it has definitely become one of my favourite afternoon teas in London. This was my sister’s first afternoon tea outing and it’s safe to say that she is now a big fan. Welcome to the dark side little sis, full of whole afternoons of tea drinking, cake eating, sugar overloads, and stuffing our faces to our hearts content!
What’s your favourite themed or quirky afternoon tea? Let me know in the comments below or at: