I’m a firm believer in the fact that there’s always time for tea, and there’s always room for cake. So, when I heard that afternoon tea was available at the Old Course Hotel, in true white rabbit form I high-tailed it over the 18th hole with a dear friend of mine to try it out.
We had gone for a smart-casual appearance, so didn’t feel too out of place in the grandeur of the lobby as the friendly doorman directed us to where the afternoon tea would be served. The conservatory at the Old Course is a bright room, filled with light coming in through the windows looking out onto the golf course. Golfers were taking advantage of the great weather and moved in colourful clusters across the vivid green fairway. We sat at our reserved table which was arranged as nicely as one would expect beneath an intricately fashioned chandelier, and ordered the Traditional Afternoon Tea.
Now, I have a confession to make. I’m not the biggest fan of tea with milk in it. I know, I’m a let-down to the British stereotype and all things sensible. English breakfast? Afraid not. Earl Grey? Terribly sorry folks. I’m firmly on the herbal side of hot drinks affairs, albeit partial to a chai latte or hot chocolate when the mood takes me. As our host, Karla (who I must say, was very attentive and friendly), poured out some still water for us, we perused what was quite the extensive tea menu. It was detailed, varied and extremely tempting. Plenty of options were available for tea drinkers with different preferences, each with detailed descriptions of the teas’ origins and concoctions. I went for the Rooibos, straight from the Redbush shrubs of the Cederberg mountain region of South Africa. My friend asked for a rose tea, which had real whole rose buds in the tea pot when it arrived, amongst other wonderful ingredients. Each teapot came with a small straining contraption, and I being the untrained tea connoisseur that I am, did struggle a little (much to the amusement of the present company). Thankfully, we managed in the end. The fragrances and flavours in the teas complemented each other perfectly. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it was some of the best Rooibos I’ve ever had.
The food was presented in a three tiered tower- savoury to sweet as you moved up. My friend’s pescatarian diet was well accommodated by the staff, although admittedly he was only missing out on the Scottish Salmon on brioche. The sandwiches were precisely cut, the nibbles arranged neatly. But the all-important factor, the taste, was yet to be explored. You could tell that the food had been freshly prepared. As we moved through the tiers onto the scones and cakes, we only became more and more impressed with their quality. The scones were light and fluffy, served with clotted cream and jam as you’d expect from a standard afternoon tea. The top tier however, was by far my favourite and not from the world of ‘standard’. There were Pimm’s mousse cakes, strawberry, custard and brut rosé champagne tarts as well as a sweet cherry and chocolate truffle, among other delicacies. All decadent. All delicious.
Some of you may be wondering how much this cost. ‘Posh Afternoon Tea’ and ‘Student Budget’ are not necessarily seen as compatible ideas. However, for all the food we were served and the endless supply of tea (I had a pot of Silver Needle Bai Hao Yinzhen White after the Rooibos), £20 per head does not sound terrible at all, and I’ve paid for a fair few afternoon teas in my time. For an additional £10, you get upgraded with a large bottle of champagne. Although, to share one between the two of us with lots of work to do that day, would have been a pour decision. If you’re feeling the stresses of first semester already and need some positivitea, or simply want to ‘treat yo’ self’- I’d thoroughly recommend this experience. You may call me the Cheshire Cat, because I walked out smiling from ear to ear.