London sure isn’t lacking when it comes to afternoon teas. These days you can get just about every kind of afternoon tea you can imagine, from traditional afternoon tea at The Ritz to science-fuelled fun. But there’s one institution that takes afternoon tea to new heights (literally) – The Shard.
Afternoon tea at The Shard is recognized as the crème de la crème of afternoon teas, and for good reason. What could be a better accompaniment to your warm buttery scone than 360-degree panoramic views of London?
The Shard is home to six restaurants and bars, but only three of them offer afternoon tea – Aqua Shard, Oblix West and TĪNG. If you’re thinking about taking tea at The Shard, but not sure which restaurant to choose, I’ve broken it all down for you here.
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Found on the 31st floor of the 95-storey skyscraper, Aqua Shard serves London’s ultimate pastime in the aptly-named ‘Tea Wing’. Walled entirely in glass, you can’t help but be in awe of the restaurant’s cosmopolitan interiors and breathtaking views of the city.
At the moment, Aqua Shard’s afternoon tea has a playful theme inspired by the beloved Mary Poppins. The British menu is full of playful modern twists and creative little touches that transport you to Mary’s magical world. It’s all quite supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Tuck into a selection of sweat and savoury treats. sumptuous finger savouries such as Cackleberry egg & black truffle sandwiches. Tea simply isn’t tea with freshly baked scones, homemade jam & Cornish clotted cream. And to finish, indulge your sweet tooth with sweet treats like the ‘Strike me pink’ sponge and fairground candy floss.
And how could I forget about the actual tea? Choose from an impressive selection of teas from around the world. Or if it’s a super special occasion, why not sip on some Veuve Clicquot bubbly for some extra sparkle?
All in all afternoon tea at the Aqua Shard is an unforgettable experience, elevated by its venue and by the talent of the people who serve it.
Afternoon Tea at Aqua Shard is available Monday to Sunday, 1 pm – 5 pm.
Sitting one level higher than Aqua Shard, Oblix West also ranks high when it comes to authentic London afternoon teas. Located on the 32nd floor, the refined, urban restaurant offers breath-taking views over Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf and the London Eye. It’s also well known for having Rainer Becker’s signature style. The chef-turned-restauranteur blends sophisticated dining, stylish décor and of course, an exquisite afternoon tea.
Oblix West’s afternoon tea takes you on a gastronomic tour of the Capital, all from the comfort of your sky-high seat. The menu draws inspiration from the city’s eclectic mix of boroughs, featuring the best ingredients from different areas of London. Chai spices from the famous Brick Lane Market, cheese from The Urban Cheesemaker and honeycomb from the local bees in Harrow to name a few.
Expect a mouth-watering tea menu with modern twists on all the traditional English classics. I’m talking roasted Angus beef and horseradish sandwiches. Cranberry scones with fresh honeycomb. And dark chocolate and passion fruit tart to really tantalise those taste buds.
As for the tea on offer, the origins stretch much further than London. Take your pick from nine tea blends from around the world. White peony from China, hibiscus flowers from the Caribbean and cornish manuka from Cornwall are all on the menu. My personal favourite is Oblix’s own afternoon blend, created exclusively for the restaurant.
Oblix West’s afternoon tea is made all the more enjoyable by the attention to detail and the exceptional service from an attentive team.
Available Monday – Sunday: 2:45 pm – 4:30 pm
TĪNG Restaurant and Lounge sits on the 35th floor of The Shard and is part of the plush five-star Shangri-La Hotel. Named after the Chinese word for ‘living room’, the vibrant space showcases sweeping views of the River Thames, Tower Bridge, Maritime Greenwich and the historic counties of Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
As well as the lavish landscapes, what makes TĪNG really stand out is not their one-of-a-kind Pop ArTEA. As the name implies, it’s a Pop Art inspired afternoon tea, drawing inspiration from the legendary Andy Warhol.
Served in theatrical elegance, the beautifully presented three-tiered stand of treats injects colour into your experience. Savouries include smoked salmon and wasabi “Gougere” and coronation chicken on cumin bread.
Then things get really crazy with the sweets! There’s a ‘Blue Burger’ which is, in fact, a macaron with chocolate and raspberry flavours. And your edible ‘Soup Can’ is a white chocolate crispy base with vanilla, grapefruit & lemon thyme. No doubt this is a playful twist of Andy Warhol’s famous soup can. But instead of Campbell’s, the label reads ‘Shangri-La London’.
You’re also encouraged to show off your ‘CreativiTEA’ and paint your own edible art to enjoy. Have fun mixing and matching edible paint before eating your works of art.
Available Monday – Sunday: 12 pm – 4 pm (last seating at 4 pm)
How Much is Afternoon Tea at The Shard?
You’re experiencing afternoon tea in the sky in Western Europe’s tallest building, so prices may be higher than your average afternoon tea. The price will also depend on if you choose to add champagne.
For an extra sweet escape, afternoon at The Shard costs (per person) :
- £45 – £72 at Aqua Shard
- £42 – £87 at Oblix
- £59 at TīNG
Despite all of the quaint practices associated with the experience, the important thing to remember is that afternoon tea is meant to be fun. Don’t let the etiquette (and cost) get too much in the way of your own personal enjoyment.
What Should I Wear to Afternoon Tea at the Shard?
Dating back to the 1840s, afternoon tea is a pastime many visitors to England may wish to try, but it comes with some rules i.e. dress code, good manners and dignified presentation.
If a question of protocol dating back to the Victorian times did arise, a tea gown would be appropriate attire for tea time. However, we’re living in the 21st century and most places you visit for tea will expect you to follow a different sort of dress code.
The dress code for all of The Shard’s afternoon teas is smart casual. But don’t let this stop you from dressing up a bit. After all, a visit to The Shard is the perfect excuse.
Steer clear from activewear/sports kit, shorts, flip flops or sports shoes. Men won’t have to wear jackets and ties (unless they’re specifically asked to do.) Trousers or smart jeans, collared shirt and clean/un-scuffed shoes are acceptable.
Ladies, think of a modern, toned-down version of Edwardian style, much like Mary Poppins’s thoughtfully put together wardrobe. Cue high necklines, puffed sleeves, lean skirt suits – and lots of attitude. It’ll make for some amazing photos for your Instagram – you looking out over London with your cup of tea and sweet treats, pinky in the air.
If that’s not really your thing, stick to the smart casual dress code. Slim dark jeans with a blazer and smart shoes are fine. To dress it up, add some heels and elegant jewellery. If you decide to wear a dress or skirt, don’t let it be too short and revealing – you’re having high tea, after all!
Take Tea in The Sky
Despite all of the practices associated with the experience, the important thing to remember is that afternoon tea is meant to be fun. Don’t let the etiquette (and cost) get too much in the way of your own personal enjoyment. It’s going to be a sensory, sophisticated and memorable tea experience like no other!
Have you been to any of the above restaurants at The Shard for afternoon tea? What was your favourite part of the experience? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments below.
Looking for more places to lift your pinky? There are plenty more places to have afternoon tea in London.