One of my first go-to plans for celebrating a birthday is afternoon tea! So when it comes to a joint celebration of my own and my mother-in-law’s (just a couple of weeks apart) it calls for something special.
At some point around our birthdays I usually end up in Hartlepool (where my husband’s family lives) and this year was no different, so I booked us in for afternoon tea at a place that had been on my radar for a while: Wynyard Hall, situated on the eastern reaches of County Durham and just a 20 minute drive from Hartlepool.
Having previously been on a spa day here, I was excited to try out the afternoon tea. The spa is housed in a different building so I’d never actually been into the main hall and I was suitably wowed by what I found – a rather decadent and luxurious interior. We knew we were in for something special.
Afternoon tea is served in the library and as we were guided to our large circular table (so much nicer for socialising) and settled into comfortable lounge chairs, a sense of calm and relaxation set in. This was THE life!
Looking at the menus, I decided to be adventurous and order the gentlemen’s afternoon tea – it was the first time I’d seen this type of afternoon tea combination, although it’s become quite popular and I see it on lots of menus now. I did however substitute the listed whisky tipple for a glass of champagne. I couldn’t forgo the bubbly with afternoon tea. It’s a rite of passage! The venue was quite happy to mix and match and adjust the price accordingly.
Choosing a type of tea was exciting – a box with all the different tea leaves was brought over for us to peruse. Each came with a description of the tea so we could make an informed choice.
I chose Orange Pekoe – I love the golden colour and citrus notes so always go for this if I see it on a menu.
We did not have to wait long for food to arrive and it certainly impressed. The traditional afternoon teas arrived on a classic tiered cake stand laden with delicious treats, with the sandwiches presented on separate plates. The sandwiches although nothing out of the ordinary with the usual fillings of honey roast ham, smoked salmon and cream cheese, egg mayonnaise and coronation chicken (Mr TJG’s favourite) were tasty.
The pièce de résistance for me however, was the presentation of my gent’s afternoon tea on a piece of slate. There was so much food; I could see I was going to be full by the end! And what a fabulous combination of tasty morsels with what seemed like all my faves in the one place!
Smoked salmon and cream cheese on a bagel is my ultimate breakfast! Then a huge piece of pork pie and half a ginormous scotch egg (such great comfort foods) accompanied by a delicious piccalilli. There’s a nod to the traditional aft tea with a beef sandwich and a small scone, but then the inclusion of a slice of moist fruit cake and block of cheese had my Yorkshire roots screaming out with wholehearted approval.
Lastly, instead of the mini cakes and pastries of the traditional afternoon tea, I got a truly epic sherry trifle, epic in size and epic in flavour! Wynyard Hall must have seen me coming and presented me with my all time favourite childhood dessert!
Back to the traditional afternoon teas, the scones (one fruit and one plain scone each) were light and fluffy and much larger than the one included in the gent’s afternoon tea. With a dusting of icing sugar on the top, they didn’t half look good!
I unfortunately didn’t get a taste of the rather impressive chocolate and berry layered sponge. My companions dove in on those with fierce abandon and I didn’t get a look in, however I managed at least a small sample of everything else. Mr TJG doesn’t do ‘gunk’ in desserts, so that means that anything with a creamy, gooey or mousse consistency is out. As a result, I purloined his strawberry mousse (yummy). I did give him some of my fruit cake in return though!
It also turned out that not one of my party liked coffee flavoured desserts either, so somehow I came away with three coffee éclairs! Ooo, how greedy of me…well – it would have been a shame to let them go to waste!
We sat and nattered away for a long time after we’d finished our afternoon teas. There was no rush to vacate the library and it was lovely listening to the pianist in the background who was positioned in the next room, alongside the bar. She had been playing at various intervals throughout the afternoon and was the perfect accompaniment for this lazy and indulgent experience.
You could easily extend your visit to Wynyard Hall by visiting the gardens (admission charge) or going for a walk in the acres of parkland on the estate. The Hall is set within some fabulous scenery that it would be a shame to leave without exploring some of it!
Afternoon Tea is served every day between 12 – 1.30pm and 3 – 4.30pm which allows for two sittings but without being rushed.
Booking is highly recommended
Traditional Afternoon Tea: £22.50
Gentlemen’s Afternoon Tea: £26.50 (includes a glass of whisky)
What do you think to the “Gentlemen’s” afternoon tea? Or do you prefer the traditional style? Please leave your comments below!
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