In the words of London’s most famous Nanny herself, the Aqua Shard Mary Poppins Afternoon Tea was practically perfect in every way. With breathtaking views of the London skyline, the fabulous Angie and Binny by my side and the time-worn pages of PL Travers’ tales setting the scene, we knew from the start it was going to be a sumptuous afternoon.
Disclaimer: We were invited guests of Aqua Shard but my (very many) thoughts and all misappropriation of quotes can definitively be laid at my boots.
Launched to celebrate the re-release by HarperCollins Children’s Books of the 5 fabulous Mary Poppins books and to herald the new movie coming out nearer Christmas, we couldn’t wait to see what the inventive Aqua team had devised for this childhood classic.
We began with a glass of Veuve Cliquot as we perused the fabulous menu, umming and ahhhhing over the tea selection – a heavenly scented flavour for Mary, and a more subtle array of aroma for Bert – and delighting in the Mary Shepherd’s original illustrations reproduced with a delightful flourish on our plates.
“First of all, I would like to make one thing clear: I never explain anything.”
Unusually, I’m not going to share every nuance of this tea – I want tea goers to revel in the adult delight of childish discovery. I don’t want to spoil all of the surprises that had us gasping in delight – much like reading the last chapter of a book before you start the literary journey.
We, however, had the adult equivalent of a spoonful of sugar; a delectable Mary Poppins twist on a Kir Royale – and unlike Michael and his syrup of figs, we had a selection of tasty concoctions that only added a layer of delight to proceedings. The homemade strawberry ‘medicinal liqueur’ had a flourish of Tanqueray gin, sugar, fresh strawberries, orange peel and golden edible glitter powder; the homemade Lime Cordial comprised of Ciroc vodka, sugar, lime peel, edible viola flowers and silver edible glitter powder, and the Rum Punch flavour, was a blend of Plantation 3 Stars Rum infused with pink peppercorns, raspberries, strawberries, oranges, spices and coconut flakes.
“There’s the whole world at your feet. And who gets to see it but the birds, the stars, and the chimney sweeps.”
“The shape, tossed and bent under the wind, lifted the latch of the gate, and they could see that it belonged to a woman, who was holding her hat on with one hand and carrying a bag in the other.”
We couldn’t believe our eyes when presented with the most inventive afternoon tea stand I’ve seen, not to mention the sweet treats that lay just under the umbrella.
But, first things first – we began with a selection of tasty finger sandwiches – from the Cackleberry farm egg and black truffle all the way to a mini-crumpet crowned with salmon and cream cheese…
…and nibbled at our scones, smeared liberally with clotted cream and jam.
“Why,” said Jane, “there’s nothing in it!” “What do you mean—nothing?” demanded Mary Poppins, drawing herself up and looking as though she had been insulted. “Nothing in it, did you say?” And with that she took out from the empty bag a starched white apron and tied it round her waist. Next she unpacked a large cake of Sunlight Soap, a toothbrush, a packet of hairpins, a bottle of scent, a small folding armchair and a box of throat lozenges…”
Doesn’t that smile just say it all?
The sweet tier was my favourite by a country mile – but I’m going to stay mum on the details. Just know that it was inventive, fun, intriguing, mischevious and altogether delicious. Quite supercalifragilisticexpialidocious in fact!
This Mary Poppins afternoon tea delights all of the senses – something befitting Mary Poppins in practically every way. I’ve enjoyed many a themed afternoon tea over the years, and this one knocked my longstanding favourite (the Sanderson Mad Hatters tea) off itslong-heldd pedestal.
Trust me, you’ll pinch yourself if you miss it!
“There they were, all together, up in the air”
“If you want to find Cherry-Tree Lane all you have to do is ask the Policeman at the cross-roads.”
Or, hop to Aqua Shard on the Thirty-First floor of the Shard building in London Bridge. Come hungry, and prepared for afternoon tea magic!