Tea is synonymous with every fiber of British being. No matter your age, or taste, you drink tea in some capacity, at some point during the day, whether it be from an electric kettle at home or high tea at a posh establishment. Usually a mix of both since a tea reservation is nearly impossible to come by at the last minute at some of London’s coolest tea destinations. To find yourself a cozy velvet booth at Sketch, London’s newly renovated hotspot, you may even have to book your tea time a month in advance.
Tea consumption became increasingly popular during the early nineteenth century. At the time it was usual for people to take only two main meals a day, breakfast, and dinner at around 8 o’clock in the evening. Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford who is said to have struggled with bouts of the 3pm crash decided the solution was a pot a tea and a light snack, taken privately in her boudoir during the afternoon. She soon began welcoming friends to join in on her new tradition and thus tea time was born.
Traditionally, the upper classes would serve a ‘low’ or ‘afternoon’ tea around four o’clock, while the middle and lower classes would have had a more substantial ‘high’ tea later in the day, at five or six o’clock, in place of a late dinner. The terms ‘high’ and ‘low’ teas derive from the height of the tables on which the meals are served, high tea being served at the dinner table. Now, tea is appropriate for any time of day and certainly any occasion for every British citizen.
There are endless places to enjoy this tea driven relaxation time, like The Ritz for an iconic tea, or the Dean St. Townhouse for a younger, cooler tea, but Sketch is by far the most interesting of the moment.
Actualized by Mourad “Momo” Mazouz and his team of chefs, including French master chef Pierre Gagnaire, and designers, Mourad’s dream of launching a “lieu” or destination place, for food, art and music has been flawlessly executed over two expansive floors of a converted 18th century building in Conduit Street, Mayfair, London.
Sketch is a complex and unique site which has attracted unprecedented media reaction for its myriad of food, drink and entertainment styles since it opened in December 2002. Gagnaire’s culinary genius has inspired the menus throughout Sketch. His eponymous Michelin three-starred Paris restaurant has a distinctive menu style, which Gagnaire had adapted for Sketch. Executed by his acolytes, the food is imaginative, bold, ground-breaking and delicious.