If it’s good enough for the Queen, then I suppose it’s good enough for me. Fortnum and Mason is tea brand with a rich history, Fortnum and Mason being the names of the two chaps that founded it. They are actually the appointed grocers by royal warrant for the Royal Family of England, and famed for their teas, groceries and luxury hampers, and have been around since 1707 serving Victorian high society. Three centuries, and still going strong. Not too shabby, at all. Their headquarters is in London which looks super fancy. According to Wikipedia, the Fortnum and Mason tea store in Piccadily, London underwent a 24 million (British pounds) refurbishment for their 300th anniversary in 2007. Wow. There establishment is like a mini-department grocery store, and also houses 5 restaurants where you can enjoy both afternoon tea and high tea (yes, there is a difference). Would be amazing to go there. It’s almost like a royal tea gallery. Will be on my to-do list when by perchance I shall ever be in London again. Do a Google image search for Fortnum and Mason – lots of fun ogling at the pictures.
The first time I came across Fortnum and Mason’s was at Yokohama. They have a tea salon at the big Lala port shopping centre. I looked up their Japanese website and saw that they had other locations. The only one in Tokyo is at Nihonbashi, with other stores in Nagoya and Sendai. Fi was visiting from Hokkaido for the weekend and wanted to partake in tea. Fi, her dad – who also joined us, and I enjoyed a nice traditional British afternoon tea at the Fortnum and Mason tea salon in Nihonbashi. Fi did not arrive empty-handed either. She gave me some Hokkaido omiyage – potatoes from Kutchan, home to the potato festival. Gotta love Hokkaidoites. Fi and her dad are from England, so it was most appropriate that I chose this particular venue (I might add, this was not by accident). The tea salon is located in the 2nd basement floor of the Mitsukoshi department store (Shin Kan) in Nihonbashi. On the odd occasion, it’s nice to not do a hotel tea.
We each ordered the 3-tiered afternoon set and it did not disappoint. First of all, a cake sample platter was brought out to us. On it were about 8 different cakes. We could each select 2 cakes for our set. We each each chose 2 different cakes each, which we would share, thereby getting to try 6 different cakes. The sandwiches were plentiful here, and even the cucumber sandwich made an appearance. Simple but delicious fillings. Tasty, simple sandwiches, and some variety scones with jam and cream. Very traditional here. All the teas are, of course, Fortnum and Mason branded, and mostly a black tea variety. It was nice that on the menu, that they categorised the teas according to strength. I went the royal blend, which I did not think was so strong. I am of the opinion though, that I think a lot of their tea blends are quite similar tasting. I am a huge of English breakfast tea, so I enjoy blend variations of that tea. (Reminds me of a funny story actually, when I was in London about 7 years ago, I went to a cafe and ordered an English breakfast tea, but what I ended up being served was an English breakfast fry-up of eggs, sausages etc.)
The afternoon tea set here is reasonably priced too at 2520yen. Your choice of only one tea though, but you are allowed hot water refills of that tea. Serving portions were very decent too. Thank you to Fi’s dad who shouted us on this occasion. My only complaint about the Nihonbashi Fortnum and Mason tea salon was the fact that it was boiling hot in there. Central heating was cranked up, and the bright lights generated a lot of heat. All of us were feeling the heat. It was like a sauna. One does not want to perspire whilst sipping tea. Apart from the (dis)comfort factor, afternoon tea at Fortnum’s is a pleasant one. After eating and drinking, be sure to check out their store which stocks a very pretty range of teas, biscuits, and other condiments (preserves and the like). Got to love their packaging!
Yes, they have my royal seal of approval.
For more photos, click here. Some interesting, useful links: Read about Fortnum and Mason on Wikipedia here. Fortnum and Mason UK website here. Lots of interesting reading to be had on that site. Refer to the links at the bottom of the page eg history/timeline through the centuries, and their restaurants. Fortnum and Mason Japan website, click here. Fortnum and Mason Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi tea salon, here.