The Villa Rosa Kempinski Hotel in Nairobi seems to have mastered the art of afternoon high tea.
We sat at the K Lounge Terrace, an outdoor patio facing a narrow strip of garden. It is a pleasant and relaxing spot with climbing plants on the trellis partition and stone benches on the grass.
Executive chef Marius Ackermann said they introduced historical elements to their afternoon tea service while keeping the modern ambience of the hotel.
You can select your tea from a selection by Ronnefeldt, a German distributor of tea leaves since 1823.
I chose the Earl Grey tea which was mildly flavoured and warming on this overcast afternoon. The other varieties are English breakfast, Vanilla Rooibos, Green Leaf and Fruity Chamomile. The hotel can also prepare a Kenya Tea Masala or brew you a cup of coffee.
The waitress set white placemats followed by table settings of gold cutlery and gold-edged china. The tea is free flowing. The tea infuser fits snugly into the teapot, allowing the beverage to steep and preventing the leaves from getting in the water.
Instead of serving plates, the cakes come inside a small, black wooden box resembling a chest of drawers with gold knobs and gold pastry tongs.
For the savoury selection the tea box had English-style mini sandwiches with the crusts cut off. The salmon with caviar was my favourite. Other sandwiches were sliced beef, cucumber and egg.
The slices of red velvet cake inside small, glass bell jars were spongy and moist. I tried the vanilla panna cotta with a fruit compote topping served in small glass cups.
This Italian desert was light and creamy. If you prefer something less sugary, the warm English tea scones go perfectly with marmalade, strawberry jam or soft whipped cream.
The final course was a peach melba of vanilla ice cream with mango pieces. It was served in a gold, boat-shaped ice cream dish with matching gold teaspoon.
Afternoon tea is served from 3pm to 6pm and it is advisable to make a reservation. It costs Ksh2,500 ($25) per person.