Eating out in Harrogate

Afternoon tea at Betty’s, Harrogate

Betty’s is synonymous with amazing afternoon teas (just ask Ben Fogle!), so we were delighted to return there today for their Lady Betty Afternoon Tea.

We have visited Betty’s many times as it is a firm family favourite and often features in special occasions for us. Our first experience of Betty’s was during my university days in York, when a trip to Betty’s with the family made a welcome change from student food. My parents would take me back to halls with that famous Betty’s paper bag filled with a ‘fitness loaf’ so they could be sure I was getting something nutritious, amongst other treats.

When we were planning the greedy wedding there was only one place in mind when it came to arranging the wedding favours. The greedy baby shower was held in the Imperial Rooms and this was the first time we had upgraded to the Lady Betty Afternoon Tea.

The reason we return so often is that we know we can always rely on Betty’s for high quality food, excellent service and an attention to detail that makes everything feel luxurious.

Well we’re pleased to report that today was no exception and Betty’s exceeded our high expectations.

The Lady Betty Afternoon Tea is served in the light filled Imperial Rooms upstairs, accompanied by a live pianist. You can pre-book a table here so can avoid the long queue outside. Whilst the afternoon tea served downstairs is of course delicious, with the Lady Betty Afternoon Tea you can choose from a wider range of teas, enjoy a couple of additional appetisers and some extra special cakes.

We began with a cool pea, cucumber and tomato cocktail which was delicously fresh and a good start after the heat of the afternoon.

Next was a pretty little pork and apple pie with a leek frittata (the non-pregnant members of our group enjoyed a smoked salmon remoulade with cream cheese).

Next on to the sandwiches. These weren’t just any old finger sandwiches, they all had interesting little twists on the classics. My favourite was a chicken and tarragon open sandwich.

The next tier was possibly my favourite – though it’s very hard to say! I always love the scones with cream and jam, however again these were not just your average scones. One was subtly flavoured with rose petals and the other with lemon zest.

The final tier featured three beautiful little cakes. The chocolate and pistachio dacquoise slice was a rich chocolate mouse with a crispy wafer base and tasted as delightful as it looked.

Now you may be wondering which tea to choose from the tempting array on the menu. As part of the afternoon we were also treated to a tea tasting session held by one of Betty’s knowledgable tea buyers. Buyers train for at least 4 years so they really know what they are talking about.

These were some of our favourite tea-related facts from the afternoon:

  • Tea readily takes on other flavours, for example to make the jasmine green tea the tea leaves are stored over night with jasmine flowers. Some of their white teas are grown amongst fruit trees, eg peach, so they take on subtle notes of these fruits. This also explains why you should ideally store your tea in an airtight container when you get it home.
  • Earl Grey tea was named after the British Prime Minister in the 1830’s who found that black tea did not taste so good when made with the local water at Howick Hall, his family seat in Northumberland. A Chinese merchant suggested the addition of bergamot, which made his tea much more palatable.
  • Betty’s and Taylors of Harrogate only source the highest quality handpicked teas using the freshest whole leaves from the bush, the reason their teas taste so good.
  • All tea comes from the same plant. The difference between black, green and white teas is the amount of processing that is done after the leaf is picked. Brown teas are left to oxidse for a couple of hours after picking (a bit like how an apple goes brown after you’ve bitten into it), whereas green are not.

So back to the question of which tea to pick with your afternoon tea. It really is a matter of personal taste as they are all excellent, however one of our favourites is the China Rose Petal for it’s delicate floral notes. We like it served black with honey.

An additional treat for the afternoon was a mini photography workshop with Betty’s ‘Head of Beautiful’ Robyn Cox (who you may remember from last year’s Channel 5 documentary  Harrogate: A Great Yorkshire Christmas). With stunning displays and product photography we were keen to learn all we could from Betty’s. They had laid out some of their prettiest products for us to photograph and gave us a behind the scenes glimpse as to how they style their photoshoots. We were pleased to learn that all the food featured in their catalogues and advertising is the genuine product available to buy, there’s no artificial food here. But then with products so good who needs to fake it?! We also learnt that there are some special plans underfoot for Betty’s 100th anniversary year next year, we can’t wait to see what they unveil.

We had a wonderful afternoon and would like to thank Betty’s and WeBlogNorth for inviting us.

Hungry for more blog posts on Betty’s? You can read about a previous visit here .

If you’re a fellow Betty’s fan you may also have dreamed about attending one of their cookery courses. You can read all about our experience at their Christmas cookery course here.

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