This summer I had the opportunity to spend two months in London. It was truly a magical experience. I soaked in every moment. When I look back on my time there, I have only one regret…and that’s waiting so long to experience English afternoon tea.
The reasons I delayed were:
1. I didn’t think I’d enjoy classic English black tea.
2. There are so many other things to see and do; it just wasn’t on the top of my list.
3. Having afternoon tea at any of the iconic locations is expensive.
I had passed by the beautiful shops in central London, such as Fortnum & Mason, and was sticker shocked by the 70-pound per person price tag. But one day, I was surprised by the most beautiful local spot in Hampstead Heath called Burgh House. It offered tea at American coffee shop prices, and I couldn’t say no this time.
I was shocked by how much I loved it and honestly devastated that I hadn’t been sooner.
Here are some of my takeaways:
1. The tea was delicious.
2. I was looking at tea time all wrong. It’s not a tourist item to check off my list. It’s a beautiful daily ritual.
3. There’s a difference between special occasion tea experiences and the everyday afternoon tea service available at local cafes.
Afternoon tea is a beautiful ritual. It felt like an American afternoon pick-me-up coffee run but done in a leisurely, social way. I saw friends catching up, couples enjoying quality time, and some having tea for one with a notebook and pen in hand. With every scenario, it was fascinating to see no phones or laptops out. At 4 pm on a weekday, everyone was pausing in their busy day to enjoy a bite and a leisurely cup of tea.
I immediately noticed how much the experience improved my mood, and I knew I wanted to come back the next day.
English tea turned into a daily ritual in my last weeks in London. And though I haven’t found anything quite like it back here in NYC, I’m determined to figure out how to adapt it to my American “go go go” lifestyle. The English are on to something. There’s a reason they’ve been enjoying afternoon tea for generations.
If you enjoyed this, read When Adventure Calls