Teapots festooned with kings and queens, plates covered with zebras, bird cages, carousels and ticking clocks. Am I on the set of a Tim Burton film? Things are getting curioser and curioser and I’ve not taken a tumble down any rabbit hole. This is the Mad Hatter Tea created by the Sanderson Hotel in London. A collaboration with the design collective Luna & Curious who have tailored bespoke china with a carnival theme.
The decked garden has been transformed into a warm and cosy tea room, complete with soft furnishings and heat lamps.
Menus are hidden inside vintage tomes and napkins wrapped with riddles. Loose leaf tea is stored in crystal jars which you’re encouraged to smell and choose upon your blend. From Earl Grey to Rhubarb and Custard it arrives in a regal pot with a black paper crown and if you care for milk, in an old school milk bottle.
A jewellery box, complete with music box and twirling ballerina, serves as the sugar bowl.
After choosing both savoury and sweet options from the menu, a three-tiered cake stand arrives heaving with all sorts of treats. I’m eating with Miss Timms and we begin with the savoury, interspersed with the sweet. I begin with rainbow coloured finger sandwiches, which look like savoury mini Swiss rolls.
Flavoured bread is rolled up with fillings that compliment – dark rye spread with lemon butter and smoked salmon, spinach with a cucumber and cream cheese inner, smoked Cumbrian ham with a seeded mustard rolled tightly into a tomato bread.
Carrot meringue is served on a bed of pea shoots; marshmallow mushrooms are an interpretation of the traditional strawberries and cream, there’s even a Victoria sandwich disguised as the rabbit’s pocket watch from the Lewis Carroll favourite, and a melting mango cheesecake in the shape of a teardrop, all wrapped up in a striped chocolate casing.
As well as the cup of tea, there’s a matcha green tea and white chocolate mousse served in an edible chocolate cup, complete with chocolate daisy. A brown glass Chemist’s bottle labelled “drink me” was a potion filled with three sweet, fruity layers; passion fruit jelly, coconut and banana purée. The idea is that it’s slurped slowly though a stunted straw to take on all the levels of flavour.
There are classic home-baked savoury and sweet scones which come with piped herb butter and fruit preserves and the mini daily Quiche was cheese and baby leek with the lightest buttery pastry casing.
And when you think you can’t eat anything else, the Mad Hatter invites you to sample Jelly Wonderland. A trolley is laden with palate cleansing jelly from bright green apple to coconut – try a small slice – even if you have to wobble out – it’s like no jelly I’ve ever tasted.
We were guests of the Sanderson but the Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea is £35 or if you fancy a glass of Laurent Perrier it’s £45 a must-try haven of peace and sensory madness just off Oxford Street.
Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, The Sanderson Hotel.