With Afternoon Tea Week beginning today, I recently had the pleasure of sampling the Summer Berry Afternoon Tea at the five-star Celtic Manor Resort, nestled in the Coldra Woods just outside Newport, South Wales.
I’ve been to The Celtic Manor Resort a few times before and I have previously reviewed the Vintage Afternoon Tea. If that was anything to go by, I was expecting the Summer Berry Afternoon Tea to be amazing.
Arriving in the grand lobby of The Celtic Manor, my mother and I were greeted by two admirable hand-carved wooden dragons sitting either side of the two pillars in the centre of the room. My mum hasn’t been to The Celtic Manor before, so as you can imagine if you’ve been here before, she was really taken aback by how magnificent the building is.
The Summer Berry Afternoon Tea is held in the conservatory of the equally exquisite Olive Tree restaurant, situated to the left of the lobby’s main entrance.
We were escorted to a table near the window, covered in a crisp white tablecloth and laid with sugar cubes, tea strainers and a jug of milk, alongside a small saucer, a knife and fork and a champagne glass.
Our waitress gave us a few moments to have a think about which tea we wanted to order, as we sipped on bubbly Italian prosecco.
There are eight different varieties of tea available, including the likes of blackcurrant and hibuscus, white/green and darjeeling teas, alongside classics such as black, chamomile and peppermint. Although I was tempted to opt for the Darjeeling tea which I drank so much of in India last year, I played it safe with the Assam breakfast tea, also from India as it happened.
This was a strong, rich tea which could be drank with or without milk, but personally, I can’t imagine drinking tea without milk. The teapot was pretty large and I managed to get around five cups of tea out of it.
I say ‘I’ because my mother isn’t a big tea fan (!) and opted for coffee instead, served in a tall stainless steel jug. My mother is quite fussy about her coffee but she really enjoyed this one, describing it as “smooth and aromatic”.
The top layer featured goat’s cheese and pesto mousse with pickled shallots, smoked salmon, cream cheese and caviar blini and baked tomato and chilli tart with minted pea salad. I adore smoked salmon and cream cheese, so I wolfed down the blini first. The salmon was incredibly fresh, with a delectable smoky flavour. The mousse was a touch too tangy for me, but my mother loved it. However, my favourite of all the savouries, by far, was the tart; a soft, tasty mixture of baked tomato and chilli encased in short crust pastry, garnished with minty garden peas.
The sandwiches lay underneath – a classic choice of ham and whole grain mustard on white bread, Hafod cheese and spiced carrot relish on wholemeal bread, chicken in a tortilla wrap with garlic mayonnaise and baby spinach, and a miniature egg mayonnaise and cress brioche roll. I really enjoyed all of them. For some reason, sandwiches seem to taste a lot better when they’re cut into fingers. The wrap was my favourite; the garlic mayo was so intense and the chicken was lean and tender.
I also adored the strawberry mousse and almond tartlet. Topped with a sweet, crunchy meringue and a wafer-thin square of white and dark chocolate, this was a tasty twist on the traditional Bakewell tart.
Meanwhile, my mother was impressed by the red berry and vanilla shortbread, influenced by her favourite biscuit, Jammie Dodgers. The soft strawberry filling was delicious, although it did get a bit sickly after a few mouthfuls.
We were beginning to feel a little full by this point, but we couldn’t resist tucking into the scones, served with smooth strawberry preserve and fresh clotted cream. The scones were so fresh, their texture resembled that of a cake, dotted with juicy raisins and subtly flavoured with vanilla.
One of the most enjoyable afternoon teas I’ve experienced, the Summer Berry Afternoon Tea at The Celtic Manor Resort was the perfect way to spend some quality time with my mother, whilst also indulging on some scrumptious savoury and sweet nibbles. It costs £26.50 per person including a glass of prosecco from Monday to Friday (£21.50 without prosecco), increasing to £34.50 on weekends (£29.50 without prosecco).
The Celtic Manor Resort
(01633) 413 000