“Scandal water” might sound like the most potent of cocktails. However, among the chicest of 19th-century London society, it was slang for a cup of tea. Ladies and gentleman of leisure would gather during the dullest of hours – between lunch and dinner – to drink fine exotic teas that warmed the palate, ready for sharing scandalous gossip.
The term has inspired the London Edition Hotel to create the Scandal Water tea in its decadent Punch Room – to bring some of the fun and naughtiness back to afternoon tea.
“The idea came about when I was discussing my disdain for afternoon tea,” says Lance Perkins, director of bars at London Edition. “I wanted to create something that was both alternative and authentic for the Punch Room, and the Scandal Water tea experience fits perfectly with this – by reviving an almost lost ritual with a twist.”
Working with The Rare Tea Company, the Scandal Water tea works along the lines of a wine flight; five types of tea, including Japanese sencha green tea and jasmine silver tip, are paired with small plates such as miso-cured salmon with caviar and an iced-gem shortbread biscuit with butter cream (£35 for a choice of three pairings).
For those wanting to augment the mischief, the London Edition has also created accompanying punches made from each of the five teas – from the Teddy Hook Punch (Martini Gran Lusso, grappa, Earl Grey tea, basil water, lemon juice and sugar) to the more sedate English Milk Punch (a milk-based brandy cocktail).
Not since the Mad Hatter has the tea party had such a welcome reinvention.