19th century slang for tea, scandal water was something that the elite of society filled their afternoons with to stave off the ennui that came with having too much money and nothing to do. It’s also the name of a new afternoon tea being offered at the comfy seats of the Punch Room, in The London EDITION hotel.
Offering something completely different from the usual cakes and scones you’d expect on a traditional tea stand, the concept behind Scandal Water is a stripped-back afternoon tea that is less about the gimmicks and more about the flavours. A collaboration between the Rare Tea Co., and executive chef at Berners Tavern Phil Carmichael, the menu consists of five teas that are carefully matched with five food pairings, and five tea-infused punches. You get to choose three pairings per person (you can’t mix ‘n’ match), so bring a friend to try all of them.
Our afternoon started with a fluffy English muffin slathered in butter, presented on a silver tray and warmed to the perfect temperature to balance our teas. The tea pairings are served in courses, and we kicked off with Davide Scandal Water Special, created by The London EDITION hotel’s bar manager Davide Segat, who is the considerable brains behind each of the punches. Its smoky citrus aroma is served up with the Enotria punch, spiked with cognac and Sauvignon Blanc to match the tea, and a lightly-spiced, fruit-packed, nostalgia-inducing eccles cake.
A must-try is the Japanese sencha tea, full-bodied with unexpected notes of buttered asparagus. As unusual as it sounds, the green tea and green-tipped vegetable go surprisingly well together. This was paired with delicate miso-cured salmon sandwiched between translucent filo, topped with caviar and served alongside a sweet, silky English milk punch. It’s little seen on drinks menus today (although it’s making a comeback) despite harking back to the 17th century, but Davide does it justice with a distinct mix of flavours.
Closer to God Punch lived up to its name, with lemon sherbet and lime juice balancing the delightfully smoky Chichicapa mescal, smoothed out with an afternoon tea staple, chamomile. The Lincolnshire poacher shortbread and cream cheese accompaniment fell short with slightly too much salt, and an uneven cream-cheese-to-shortbread ratio.
The Earl Grey was wonderfully bright and fresh, but the shining beacon of that course came in the form of the Teddy Hook Punch, a potent mix of grappa, Earl Grey, basil water and lemon, its bitter edge was rounded by a sweet ‘iced gem’ shortbread, as delicious as it was reminiscent of childhood break times.
Price: £35 per person for the choice of 3 pairings. Only on Fridays and Saturdays between 3pm and 4pm.
London EDITION Hotel
Written by Zeina Samaha, March 2016
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