China Tang is a Park Lane institution, specialising in the sort of unashamedly old-school glamour that is increasingly rare in London, albeit par for the course here in the sumptuous surrounds of The Dorchester. Despite feeding London’s rich and famous since 2006 (Kate Moss is a regular), China Tang's afternoon tea is a more recent offering and swaps out scones and finger sandwiches for a Chinese take on this most British of traditions.
Served in the restaurant’s low-lit bar, ‘Tea at Tangs’ begins with a selection of warm savouries, including a plump and salty serving of butterfly prawn toast, and two crispy vegetarian spring rolls. There's also a trio of classic dim sum, served in a traditional bamboo basket – think pork and shrimp dumplings encased in a delicate, hand-folded skin – as well as cheung fun, our favourite of the savouries, in which crispy gai lan and fried dough are wrapped in translucent rice pasta.
If the savouries stick to dim-sum classics, the sweets are where Tea at Tangs showcases its innovation. A circular cake stand arrives at the table dotted with an array of sweet treats, including golden egg tarts oozing custard, and a triangle of fragrant osmanthus flower jelly, completed by the addition of wolfberries and gold leaf (this is Mayfair, after all). The stand-out treat though is undoubtedly the chocolate dumplings; ignore their not-so-attractive looks, and instead marvel at the springy dumpling skin which is brushed with a thick coating of chocolate and conceals a burst of warm chocolate fondant.
Tea is of course a vital part of the ritual, and here China Tang mixes things up by offering a selection of brews alongside three tea-infused cocktails. We tried the French Tea – served in a stunning hand-painted tea pot, this floral sip combines gin, Champagne syrup and lavender tea. If you’re looking to try something different, at a price which isn’t outrageous for a Mayfair hotel, then Tea at Tangs is more than worth your time.