Birthdays, Mother’s Days, hen dos – afternoon tea is now a typical go-to for celebrations, but the occasion is at the risk of getting a little samey. For something that’s a little more unique, head to The Sanderson for their Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea. I’m big on attention to detail, and every tiny little thing has been thought of at The Sanderson to recreate the kind of tea Alice had with the Mad Hatter himself. Beautiful crystal bottles on an elegant mirror tray are tied with ribbon that describe the flavour of tea within, the menu sits within an old vintage book and napkins are tied with riddles. And that’s all before you’ve even picked your tea of choice.
Homemade marshmallow mushrooms and carrot meringues sit at the top of a three tiered stand of desserts. Matcha green tea and white chocolate mousse comes in a dark chocolate tea cup and the layered mini Victoria Sponge is decorated as a clock, delicate icing taunting you for being late. The puddings are rounded off by a super sweet passion fruit ‘potion’, which has been tied with a handwritten “drink me” note. No stone has been left unturned and it makes this tea some kind of wonderful.
Sandwiches are fittingly quirky; classics reworked on unusual breads: smoked ham and mustard on a sundried tomato loaf; cucumber and cream cheese on spinach bread, which is dense and surprisingly good; smoked salmon and lemon butter on a dark rye and egg mayonnaise on lemon bread. As with all the best afternoon teas, multiple refills of sandwiches (and of course tea) are whisked over to you on request. Mini quiche and of course, scones, round out the feast and there’s even a Jelly Wonderland to help yourself to if you’re not quite full after all of that.
This Alice in Wonderland themed treat is a great idea for kids, who will revel in the old music box that stores sugar cubes even more than the nostalgic adults, but be prepared to pay for the privilege – at £30 for children aged between 4-11 years, you are paying more for the novelty at The Sanderson when it comes to the kids. Prices for adults are more standard at £38 per person or £48 with a glass of champagne included. Uniquely, Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea takes place every day, which is perfect for those looking for something special to do on a specific date, and we were seated under cover in the courtyard garden, still able to enjoy the sun poking through those English Summer clouds when the day allowed it.
The Sanderson is one of the better Afternoon Tea experiences I’ve had, and certainly the most memorable. Next time you’re celebrating – or indeed, just want to do something a little different with your afternoon, head to the Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea. After all, it’s always tea time.