Afternoon Tea Experience
Tea drinking is a culture in Northern Ireland and many eating establishments are often judged on how good their cup of tea is. The local preference is for a good strong cup of tea; that being a brew strong enough to stand a teaspoon up in! Visitors will find Irish tea slightly spicier and stronger than traditional English blends. Northern Ireland also has a vibrant culture of tea rooms and cafes which provide an array of home-baking from the traditional scone or ‘wee bun’ to cakes, cupcakes and macaroons!
The more formal Afternoon Tea is a most quintessential English tradition, said to have been initiated by the 7th Duchess of Bedford in the early 18th century to stem off hunger between breakfast and the evening meal. Traditional Afternoon Tea is composed of delicately cut finger sandwiches, scones with cream and jam, sweet pastries and cakes, and of course tea, all served on elegant tableware. The activity became social and highly fashionable throughout the classes.
Today, the Afternoon Tea tradition is enjoying a resurgence of popularity as a treat for birthdays, celebrations, or a day out! Northern Ireland has many fabulous Afternoon Tea venues to choose from – castles to cottages, historic venues to luxury hotels, your only problem will be deciding where to go!
If you like a touch of elegance, try the 5* Merchant Hotel in Belfast, where you can enjoy a glass of champagne with your afternoon tea, accompanied by live music at the weekends.
Or for something unique why not visit Titanic Belfast, the premier visitor attraction in Belfast, where you can enjoy your afternoon tea in the opulent surroundings of the Titanic Suite featuring the fabulous replica staircase. Photo opportunity available.
Or why not call into the Old Tea House in the charming village of Whitehead, on the Causeway Coastal Route. You can enjoy the atmosphere of a bygone era at a genuine Edwardian teahouse, with Art Nouveau stained glass windows and glass chandeliers. Walk off your scones with a walk along the renowned Blackhead Path.
Or how about cream tea in a mansion! On selected summer dates you can book tea in Lord Bangor’s private sitting room in Castle Ward, located on beautiful Strangford Lough in County Down.
Just five minutes drive from the famed Walls of Derry, is historic Beech Hill Country House. Dating back to 1739 and set in 32 acres of woodland and lakes, the house has an interesting past, including serving as a base to American Marines during WW2, and has welcomed President Bill Clinton on several occasions.
Fermanagh is the setting for the magnificent Lough Erne Resort, which hosted the G8 Summit in 2013. Enjoy tea in the Garden Hall, with wonderful views across Lough Erne.
Some hotels and tea rooms offer variations on the afternoon tea theme, look out for Strawberry teas or Champagne Teas. Wherever you find yourself in NI, you will not have to seek far to find a great venue for your afternoon tea experience.