One of my favorite life experiences has been high tea at the Pump House in Bath, Somerset. The English resort town was a frequent destination for Jane Austen, and the vacationing characters in her celebrated novels spent many afternoons nibbling scones in the famous tea room, while anticipating upcoming balls. As a girl, I was captivated by the world of gowns and dances Austen presented and I could not wait to grow up and be part of that world. Sadly, my adult life has contained far fewer balls than I had imagined would be in store for me, but I have been able to experience a few of elegant happenings which this master of the Romantic Era introduced me to, and among my favorite has been the experience of high tea.
The Pfister Hotel has its own take on high tea, which marries traditional elegance with a modern flair. Set in the BLU Lounge, attendees get the unique opportunity to see the views from the 23rd floor during the daytime. Sunlight streams in from the magnificent wall of windows, with beams dancing on the silver tea services which adorn each table. The surroundings may be modern, but the table setting, and the accompaniments of lumped sugar and clotted cream would have been very familiar to Austen and her set.
The start of our journey began with the tea butler. Our butler, Stephen, introduced us to our 12 Rishi tea options for afternoon tea. Presenting a bit about each tea, he encouraged us to smell the teas and provided suggestions based on our preferences. In addition to the tea, he offered a variety of flavor enhancers, including fresh mint leaves, cinnamon sticks as well as fresh and dried fruits to add additional flavor and complexity to our selections. All attendees are treated to an individual, self-tipping teapot, complete with lit burner which keeps the tea at the perfect temperature while leisurely sipping.
Soon, our steeping teas arrived, accompanied by a three-tiered serving tray filled with sweet and savory indulgences of the daintiest variety. A feast for the eyes as much as for the palate, each tier contained a new marvel, from elaborately constructed sandwiches the size of a pound coin, to chocolate tarts, flecked in gold leaf, every morsel was a marvel.
Relaxed, I sunk into the velvet armchair, savoring each warm sip of richly hued cinnamon spiced tea. As I surveyed the city I love from atop my perch in the Tower, the room was filled with soothing music created by the pianist seated at the grand piano. Around me were tables filled with equally contented people, happily placing spoonfuls of sweet lemon curd onto their porcelain plates and spreading clotted cream onto their scones. High tea in the hotel is a lovely affair: inspired by tradition, but shaped into something that is uniquely Pfister.
Learn more about having your own high tea experience at The Pfister Hotel here