After six years of living in London I have started to acquire a taste for British food (some of it anyway), one of these being afternoon tea. Afternoon tea is a very traditional English meal composed of sandwiches and cakes. B Bakery offers this traditional English experience with a special twist, in the form of an afternoon tea bus tour! If you want to experience London in a different way, what could be better than seeing all the main tourist landmarks while savouring delicious food and tea? (Hint; nothing is). Read on to find out more about our experience on the B Bakery afternoon tea bus tour in London!
Before you read on, have you booked your London hotel already? If not, check out the best areas to stay in London (recommended by a Londoner!)
What is afternoon tea?
For those that aren’t acquainted with the glorious British tradition of afternoon tea, I figured I should give you a bit of an introduction about it. Afternoon tea is a meal first introduced in the 1840s, first as a mini meal between lunch and dinner so that one wouldn’t arrive at dinner too famished. It used to be a social event for high society ladies. Today it is still considered somewhat a fancy meal and will mostly be consumed on special occasions (unless you have a very traditional English grandma that will make you sandwiches, cakes and tea for when you get home from school). As the name implies it is usually consumed in the afternoon, however you can have afternoon tea as early as 12pm. It is usually composed of three parts; savoury sandwiches, sweet pastries and scones.
The route of our afternoon tea bus tour in London
Our afternoon tea bus tour started at Victoria Coach Station and covered all the main landmarks in London. There is an automated guide voice that gives a short history of all the main attractions, but the staff will also chime in and talk about smaller landmarks that aren’t mentioned in the tape, which makes it a much more personal and interesting experience. Setting off from Victoria Station we first drove around Kensington, seeing main landmarks such as Hyde Park Corner, Harrods, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the National History Museum and the Royal Albert Hall.
From there we drove on along the side of Hyde Park until we reached Notting Hill, where we then turned right and continued our tour around Hyde Park. At the North Eastern corner of Hyde Park we drove past Marble Arch, and then back south to Hyde Park Corner. Once we there we turned left and drove through central London, seeing Piccadilly Circus, the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and we then ended our tour back at Victoria Coach Station. The tour lasts approximately 1 hour, but this really depends on the traffic (and the traffic in London can be pretty awful, but hey that means you get to enjoy a longer afternoon tea bus tour)!
B Bakery offers a number of different types of menus and can also cater for most dietary requirements, whether you want to eat Vegetarian, Vegan, Halal or Gluten-Free, just make sure to say so when you book and the chefs of B Bakery will make sure your dietary needs are met. As per tradition afternoon tea is served in a tiered plate stand, with savoury sandwiches on the bottom plate and cakes in the top one.
The bottom plate was filled with different types of delicious freshly prepared savoury sandwiches. Some were afternoon tea classics such as the Cucumber & Mint Finger Sandwich, the Watercress & Egg Pretzel and the Ham & Cheese Sandwich With Mayo & Mustard. The others were more original and I hadn’t seen them served before at afternoon teas, and included things like a Chestnut mushroom quiche, small BLT Burgers and Smoked Salmon Blinis (these were like small pancakes with cream cheese, cucumber and smoked salmon). These last three were my personal favourites as they were a bit different from what I was normally used to, and especially tasty.
The top tray of our stacked dish was covered in an assortment of mini homemade cakes and tarts. My personal favourite were the Chocolate Mini Cupcake and the Lemon Meringue Tart. When we were about three quarters of the tour in and had gotten through most of our food we were served warm scones with jam and cream to end the afternoon tea. These are typical unsalted English cakes, to which you then add jam and cream to add flavour. They are traditionally always served with afternoon tea.
As you may imagine, the traditional drink to have at afternoon tea, is in fact tea. B Bakery offers a number of different teas from Betjaman & Barton, including traditional flavours like English Breakfast and Earl Grey, but also more alternative flavours such as Darjeeling and Rooibos Jardin Rouge. If like me you’re not much of a tea drinker, don’t worry as they have other coffee and hot chocolate options.
Have you been on an afternoon tea bus tour before? How did you find it? Let me know in the comments below! I really enjoyed our B Bakery afternoon tea bus tour as it gave a creative spin to a traditional experience. Even after living in London for six years, I really enjoyed driving around and seeing all the main landmarks and tourist attractions of London. The delicious tea, sandwiches and cakes was an added bonus!