Gorgeous tea. Royal tea. Proper English tea. That’s Fortnum & Mason for you. No less a fan than Charles Dickens once exclaimed of the iconic London shop, “Look where I will… I see Fortnum & Mason. All the hampers fly wide open and the green downs burst into a blossom of lobster salad!”
The iconic shop opened in 1707. Its teas, including a bespoke blend specially created for King Edward VII in 1902, gained fame in the royal houses, and are simply delightful. Here’s what you need to know about Fortnum & Mason, for which we are the exclusive United States supplier. Scroll down for the recipe for their famed scones, to boot.
In the early 1700s, the insistence of Queen Anne’s household on fresh candles nightly inspired enterprising footman William Fortnum to save spent wax and make candles at home. He eventually expanded to food and drink, and F&M teas made cameos in the royal houses for hundreds of years. From the Royal Blend first concocted for His Majesty Edward in 1902 to a gorgeous, rich Assam hailing from India’s steamy Brahmaputra Valley, these are teas worth writing home about. Each comes in holiday-worthy packaging. You can also splash out for a proper hamper!
OK, so maybe you don’t have Dickensian hampers of lobster salad or the over-the-top incredible London shop’s décor. But you can set out a pretty antique-inspired tray for your tea, scones and jam. You can invest in nice linen napkins, set out a few sprigs of holly or deck the table with some other seasonal, natural elements. You can light candles, a nod to how F&M started. Make teatime an event.
You could quietly use an electric tea kettle in the kitchen, and no judgment there: For those who drink a lot of tea, it’s essential to have one. But what if you had a beautiful little kettle so you could pour tableside? We love those from Staub and Le Creuset, and the MacKenzie-Childs one pictured here has a sort of Alice in Wonderland quality we adore. You’ll want good cream and sugar, of course, to boot, and serve them in the most adorable little containers you can find.
There must be scones. (See below.) Or if not scones, biscuits. And if not biscuits, cookies, which the Brits call “biscuits” anyways; F&M sells them, and they’re divine! And there must be jam, and clotted cream. (Or crème fraîche! Or mascarpone!) Do tea the way you need to do tea; we certainly won’t stop you if you feel compelled to trim off the crusts on some roast beef tea sandwiches. But have something, anything for those feeling peckish. Read on for a recipe to make the legendary Fortnum & Mason scones.
Fortnum & Mason Scones
• 4 cups (400 g) ‘00’ flour
• 5 tsp. (20 g) baking powder
• ½ tsp. salt
• 1/2 cup (115 g) cold unsalted butter, diced
• 1/3 cup (80 g) superfine sugar
• 3/4 cup (175 ml) whole milk
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• Powdered sugar, for dusting
• 1 jar Fortnum’s Rose Petal Jelly
• Clotted cream, for serving
1. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl, then add the butter. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar, then add the milk and mix to a soft dough; do not over-mix or the scones will be heavy. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough until about 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) thick. Cut out rounds with a 2-inch (5-cm) round cutter, then gather any scraps, re-roll, and cut into additional rounds.
2. Arrange the rounds on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Using a pastry brush, brush the rounds with the beaten egg and let rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350˚F (180˚C).
3. Bake until well risen and golden brown, 12–15 minutes. Transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool. Dust with powdered sugar before serving with rose petal jelly and clotted cream. Makes 12-15 scones.