“Here is the selection of teas we have, and for the Princesses, we have hot chocolate, apple or orange juice”.
My 7-year-old niece Lucy beamed as the waiter referred to her and her 5 year-old sister as princesses and sat politely as he circled the table laying the pristine white napkins on our laps. We were at The Castle in Taunton, Somerset, for a very special afternoon tea in honour of my pregnant sister-in-law who is due at the end of September. With no one in our group ever having gone out for proper afternoon tea we didn’t fully know what to expect.
The Castle was instantly impressive as we drove up, with greenery climbing the walls on the outside making a pretty sight. We were shown to the high tea room, where we were presented with a box full of pots of tea leaves for us to smell and choose which would be our drink. Lucy did a good job of smelling and nodding as she made ‘oooh’ and ‘ahh’ noises at each sniff, but opted for the choice of hot chocolate which she quickly declared as ‘the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had’. I chose to have a Japanese Sencha Tea, with everyone around the table trying something different whether a traditional earl grey, or a more exotic ceylon rose.
After receiving and sampling our teas the waitress bought out two afternoon tea stands of food. “Why does it look like that?” Lucy whispered to me. “Well you start with the bottom layer – the sandwiches – then you move onto to the middle layer – scones with jam and cream. Lastly we have the top layer, all those delicious cakes”. “Hmm…” she replied “I’d rather start with the top layer”.
Like a trooper she did plough on with the sandwiches, as we all enjoyed delicious egg mayonnaise, salmon and crème fraiche, turkey and mustard, and ham and tomato. The scones (both plain and fruit) were eaten with a healthy dollop of cream and jam and much discussion over the Devon and Cornish way to serve cream tea (much to the betrayal of my Devon heritage, I prefer the Cornish way of jam first then cream). We ended with the yummy layer of chocolate brownies, a mango mousse with white chocolate base, a vanilla panacotta with raspberry coulis and a layered chocolate and orange mouse cake. Each mouthful was delicious. I quickly reached my sugar limit but Lucy was able to keep going as she tried everything she could.
“This is like being in first class!”
As we pondered how Lucy would know what first class was like, we were offered another pot of tea to wash down all the delicious cakes, with Lucy opting for “just a little more hot chocolate, please”.
Overall, The Castle in Taunton gave us the perfect experience for our mini baby shower, making a fuss of us and the kids, and making sure everyone felt comfortable. If you’re in Somerset, I would highly recommend a visit for a special treat.
My niece took to the posh setting like a duck to water, even correcting me when I declared that the afternoon tea was “boo-i-ful”
“Uhm, Auntie Coco did you forget your T’s?”
Sorry Lucy, I meant BEAUTIFUL.