For over three centuries it has served as a Post Office, grocery store, supplier for the British soldiers and for the expeditions to the Everest. Since 2008 this eponymous department store has even got its own beehives! A plan to put beehives on Fortnum & Mason’s rooftop in the middle of Piccadilly may seem adventurous, yet there is now a waiting list for the bees’ produce, the delicious honey. Fortnum & Mason has also a lovely old tea parlour on the ground floor, where you can smell, watch and even taste some of the department’s tea.
For these of you preferring your tea sweet the F&M honey could be handy to naturally ‘enhance’ a bitter cup of black tea. The traditional English way is to add milk and white sugar into tea, which not only partially masks the tea’s aromatic credentials but also makes it a much less healthy drink. Nevertheless, I would not add it to most of the quality teas sold at F&M as these really do not need it. If you brew the tea correctly it should not be bitter at all.
The Fortnum family links to The British East India Company secured access to spices, the world’s best teas and other exotic goods, therefore it still offers the top quality produce from all over the world. The department store today is more known for its supply of British produce such as marmalades, chutneys, shortbreads and other tasty delicacies, yet it is the tradition of taking an afternoon tea that Fortnum and Mason has become the most known for.
Nevertheless, there are not many tea (and coffee) plantations in England (except one small tea plantation in Devon) that could supply and cover the demands of the F&M’s customers. Thus, the department store remains with its roots when it keeps importing the world’s best teas from India, China and other places.
Most of the signature teas are blended in-house: F&M Breakfast tea; Coronation Blend Tea; Afternoon Lighter Tea Blend, …
Others are rare or high quality pure teas mainly from the former British colonial India: Darjeeling Broken Orange Pekoe; Assam Superb, …
Recently, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II opened personally the new elegant Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon on the fourth floor in a celebration of her Diamond Jubilee in 2012. There are 60 unique products sold exclusively in memory of this occasion making these ideal gift or a souvenir.
In the gourmet section you can also find various tea delicacies such as cookies, shortbreads, and accompaniments such as sugar, but also an intriguing selection of chocolates. The chocolates are from various chocolatiers, many of them from the United Kingdom but some also from abroad. I have tried Vietnamese dark chocolate bars by Marou. The Bà Ria 76% Single Origin made from Trinitario cocoa in Bà Rja province was bursting with sour fruit and citrusy flavours finished by a long aftertaste. Contrary the Lâm Dông 74% Single Origin is more earthy, rich, dry almost dusty and extremely satisfying with its depth and fresh finish. These complex chocolates are crafted in Saigon and produced in small quantities. Fortnum and Mason also has its own range of chocolates. From white, through milky to truly dark chocolates, the selection is worth exploring. The F&M Chocolate No4 is 100% dark chocolate from Madagascar with dry, sharp wall nutty taste because of its high cocoa content. It is rich yet has certain creamy quality ending with roasted coffee bean aftertaste.
Address: 181 Piccadilly London W1A 1ER, United Kingdom
Contact: Tel: +44 (0) 845 300 1707
Opening hours: Mon – Sat: 10am – 8pm, Sun: 12pm – 6pm.
Tea Salon Savouries & English Afternoon Tea: Mon – Sat: 12pm to 9pm, Sun: 12pm to 8pm.