Any vegan or celiac reading this will agree that the concept of going for an Afternoon Tea sounds almost impossible. Meat-filled finger sandwiches, fluffy scones with clotted cream and spongey, icing-topped cakes aren’t exactly suited to dairy-free, gluten-free diets. Luckily for you, Doxford Hall has heard your plea, and is now offering a vegan, gluten-free Afternoon Tea. In celebration of World Vegan Month, we decided to give it a try, and we loved it so very matcha that we just had to share it with you.
The approach to Doxford is simply magical. We drove through the large entryway to find ourselves in an autumnal haven, as the Georgian masterpiece of a hotel stands beautifully behind the bare trees and smatterings of crisp leaves that lie on the ground. The warming glow emanating from the hotel windows made us desperate to get inside and out of the cold. We parked up, headed under the stone archway and wandered through the stunning grounds to reach the hotel lobby.
On arrival, we received a warm welcome and were shown to The Georgian Room. Crimson furniture, golden candle-style chandeliers, large oil paintings and an impressive fireplace gave the décor a grandeur that felt fit for her majes-tea - the perfect spot for an elegant Afternoon Tea.
While Doxford do serve traditional Afternoon Tea (along with Gentleman’s and festive variations!) this experience was all about ditching the dairy and going green. A fantastic staff member read the menu to us, just to make sure that all of our dietary requirements would be met. Reeling off a list that included finger sandwiches, scones with clotted ‘cream’ and chocolate brownies, we were intrigued to see how well these treats would work with the wheat wiped out and the animal products abolished!
Vegan coffees and a variety of teas were on the menu, so we opted for a refreshing pot of peppermint tea and sipped on it while we waited for our food to arrive. Shortly after we had ordered, out came a three-tiered stand filled with gluten-free, vegan treats. The selection of sandwiches were filled to the brim with cheddar and homemade chutney, sweet coronation carrot, hummus and sun-blushed tomato and cucumber with soft cheese. Delicious and filling, we simultaneously tried each sandwich one-by-one and nodded at each other in approval as we chewed. The vegan cheddar cheese, which we were arguably most dubious about, was our favourite filling, tasting unbelievably similar to real cheese.
The background crackle of an open log fire, along with the delicious warmth it exuded, added to the relaxed and cosy atmosphere in the regal Georgian Room as we tucked into the desserts. We lathered our scones with vegan clotted cream and savoured the crumbly goodness before moving onto the still-warm, fruity tea cake. We then tasted the buttery raspberry flapjack, zesty tropical fruit trifle and melt-in-the-mouth chocolate brownie. We couldn’t decide on a favourite dessert, but the luscious, rich brownie was definitely a contender.
Once we had devoured every last crumb, we sat back in the plush chairs and faced the roaring fireplace. We were sufficiently stuffed, as well as feeling quite smug that we had enjoyed an Afternoon Tea with a conscience. Reluctant to drag ourselves away from the toe-warming fire and head out into the cold, we pulled on our coats and scarves and headed outside to take a few snaps of the hotel’s surrounding gardens before heading home.
Veganism has a hugely positive impact on the environment and of course animal welfare, and more and more morally-conscious individuals are giving themselves a veg-ucation. Vegan, celiac, vegetarian or dietary requirement-free, this mug-nificent Afternoon Tea in an exquisite setting can be enjoyed by absolutely anyone.
For more details of Doxford Hall’s collection of Afternoon Teas, with something to suit every occasion as well as afternoon tea/spa offers, visit their website. Vegans will be thrilled to know that the spa offers a holistic, vegan friendly range of treatments courtesy of Ytsara… something to return for, I think!