Sunday, March 6, 2011

High Tea at Kensington Palace's Orangery

View of the well-lit orangery from the inside.

After the Thursday lunch-time concert at the Hyde Park chapel on Exhibition Road (see older post on the concerts here), I took the occasion to visit the Orangery at Kensington Palace for high tea with friends.

For those unfamiliar with high tea, it consists of tea (herbal as always in my case), cakes, finger sandwiches, and scones, often all you can eat.  This quintessentially English tradition, legend has it, was begun by one of Queen Victoria's ladies-in-waiting, the Duchess of Bedford.  She would became hungry mid to late-afternoon and, as she had learned in France, invited friends over for a "secret" tea with bread and butter sandwiches and cakes along with a walk in the fields. The summer practice at her country home was continued once moving to London for the "season," and other hosts soon picked up the practice.

Having high tea in Mayfair, especially at the Ritz, is now about the most English thing one can do. I personally find it amusing that the English tradition was learned from the French (something left out of the story inscribed in marble at Kensington Palace).

Tea at the Orangery is lovely, and inexpensive as high tea goes.  The scone (beautiful things!) was orange-scented, and the African red bush tea had orange in it.  I highly recommend it.

Tea stand - had already eaten the sandwiches on the bottom,
and a friend had eaten the lemon tart on top.

The statuary was beautiful.
There were little orange trees on each table.


  1. Was blog surfing and ran across your blog. Your title caught my eye {I live in Utah}. High tea looks beautiful what a journey! Thanks, Jackie

  2. I'm going to visit my sister in England (first time there) soon. I'm also LDS and wondering what your favorite herbal teas are. I'd love recommendations!

  3. My very favorite is a Whittard tea, rose, peppermint, and licorice (the licorice is a natural sweetener). Next is probably fresh mint tea (literally fresh mint leaves and water), and then a special apple + tea I can rarely find. African red bush is often really good with something sweet mixed in - had it with mango and passionfruit yesterday. Anything from te Mighty Leaf brand and/or silk and high-quality-stitching tea bags is general excellent. My favorite tea places are 1) the Tea Palace in Covent Garden markets and then 2) the Tea House on Neal Street, also in Covent Garden area. Whittard is good, too (and obviously has my favorite flavor), but is a chain and less personal. Twinnings is a standard brand you can buy in the grocery store and a bit more tasteless, although it comes in many more flavors than are found in the states- I particularly like their chamomile, vanilla and honey brand.

    Good luck - Hope this helps!

  4. Thank you, thank you for the ideas. I've only tried the standard stuff here -- peppermint, etc. I'm so looking forward to it.

  5. This is on our list of places to go when Jeff's mom comes to visit this summer. I'm glad you approve.