Afternoon Tea | House of High Tea | Berkhamsted

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Afternoon tea is quite possibly one of my favourite things ever. I don't know whether it's 22 years of annual trips to Cornwall where we religiously stuff our faces with cream tea or my general sweet tooth, but you can't beat it. After returning from travelling just before Christmas I still haven't managed to properly catch up with everyone, so when one of my best friends Demi suggested afternoon tea, I quite literally jumped at the chance. After a productive morning looking at cars (new big girl job calls for a new big girl car, but I'll save the deets for another post), I treated myself to a Benebrow in Debenhams (very impressed) and headed over to Berkhamsted to meet Demi at House of High Tea. It's a quaint, beautifully traditional little tearoom situated just off of the high street that I'd never heard of before despite living in the neighbouring town. We managed to park up one of the hilly side roads and after a slight umbrella mishap, we fought the drizzle and went to indulge.

From the moment we stepped inside until the moment we left, the service was impeccable. The staff attentive, welcoming and friendly yet not intrusive or overbearing. A lovely man took us to our reserved tables up a few steps, situated in front of a small bay window lit by a gorgeous chandelier. The table even had a little posh silver reserved sign on it which was a nice little touch. We'd previously enquired about the menu and prices so we were aware of what the three courses would consist of for £23 per person. The decor was very cosy and homely with printed wallpaper and traditional tables decorated with fresh daffodils. We were quickly given elderflower fizz in a champagne glass topped with a strawberry which was a great welcome, although I'd have preferred it to have been actual champagne. But you can't have it all, can you? With over 20 different fresh leaf teas to choose from, you could also opt for coffee, hot chocolate or a chai latte for no extra charge if you're not a tea drinker. I was boring and chose the English Afternoon Tea followed by a hot chocolate with marshmallows. The drinks are unlimited and we were frequently offered top ups and new choices.

The first course was served on a tiered cake stand and consisted of freshly baked sausage rolls with chutney, cheese scones with butter and finger sandwiches including salmon and cream cheese, ham and mustard and egg which were all lovely. The sausage roll and cheese scone were particularly dreamy but the sandwiches were also lovely and soft. When we were finished we were served a minature lemon posset to cleanse the palate before the final course and I've never tasted anything like it - it was gorgeous! We were then presented with the sweet course and had the most amazing minature vistoria sponge, chocolate ganache cake and sweet scone with clotted cream and jam. After three hours of eating inbetween chatting away and sipping on our drinks we somewhow managed to work our way through everything. Although it took all of our strength not to undo our top buttons - the struggle was real and it's safe to say we both enjoyed every single bite.

There was absolutely no rush to leave which is something I loved. We arrived at 1pm, took our time and left around 4pm. The tea room wasn't particularly busy which was great as it wasn't overly noisy and I especially liked where we were sat, right in front of the window with pretty lighting. Including the mandatory 10% service charge, which I always find a bit cheeky, it came to £50.60 which we split down the middle. The staff were great, the service was perfect and the food was delicious. It was nice to visit somewhere completely original and unique because it's honestly a little bit of a hidden gem. Sometimes more advertised afternoon tea packages can be a little bland or overpriced, however I can't really fault this one at all. Situated just off of the high street it's in a great location especially if you fancy going for a little wander afterwards. 

Me and Demi hadn't seen each other since the end of July, despite a few hours at my birthday meal in which we didn't get to properly catch up, so we had over 6 months worth of life to catch up on. We talked boyfriends, friends, work, life, gossip and I don't think we actually stopped talking until we said goodbye and drove away. It was so lovely to spend the afternoon together doing something we wouldn't normally do. Our usual catch ups consist of shopping and lunch but we decided to avoid shopping seeing as it's not the most ideal location for a serious catch up. We've promised not to leave it so long next time which shouldn't be a problem seeing as part of it was due to me being out of the country for three months, but sometimes life just runs away with itself and it's hard to keep on top of continuous catch ups. I had such a fun afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed eating excessively. And I still managed to wolf down a curry a couple of hours later. Credit where credit is due, thank you very much. And I'll definitely be going back, even if it's just for a slice of cake and a cuppa.

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