Ever since I moved to England a year and a half ago, I have wanted to go to a proper afternoon tea. The adorable dainty cakes… the finger sandwiches… the crumbly scones spread thick with jam… the endless pots of tea and coffee… Could there be a more perfect way to spend an afternoon? However, my dreams were usually dashed by imaginings of myself picking at a sad cucumber sandwich and perhaps a slice of toast while everyone else ate decadent cakes filled with butter, milk and eggs. Afternoon tea just didn’t seem like a vegan-friendly ordeal.
So when I saw a post on Facebook about a cafe called Earthcake that was rolling out an 100% vegan high tea, I was ecstatic. Finally, my dreams of eating tiny, beautiful cakes off a multi-tiered tower (and feeling really posh while doing so) could be realized. My birthday also happened to be coming up, which is a perfectly reasonable excuse for gorging yourself on sweets (as if I ever needed an excuse to do that). So my boyfriend and I booked ourselves a table for a Saturday afternoon and made the trek out to Bedminster — trying to drown out the sound of a screaming child on the bus with thoughts of scones and cake.
Upon arriving, we were brought to our table in a cosy and quiet corner. We were greeted by a friendly server and asked if we wanted coffee or tea — both of which inlcuded as many refills as our hearts desired. I ordered a coffee with oat milk — both almond and coconut milk were also available. Tim ordered a pot of Earl Grey, which was perfectly lovely and lemony without anything added.
We were brought a three-tiered tower filled with sandwiches, cakes and scones. We each got four finger sandwiches: One had vegan cream cheese and cucumber, one was similar to egg salad, one had thinly sliced veg-friendly ‘meat’ and mustard, and the last one — both of our favourite — had thick slices of avocado and a gorgeous pink beetroot hummus.
We eagerly moved up the tower and onto the cakes. We each had five different varieties to try! I started with the chocolate-covered mango slice on shortbread. Its crumbly, buttery base, creamy filling and thick layer of chocolate reminded me of a familiar Canadian treat, the Nanaimo Bar! Second was a rich and decadent chocolate peanut butter tartlet. Pure chocolatey heaven. Next, I tried the vanilla-bean cheesecake (which we lovingly re-named Garycake, after the Sainsbury’s range of vegan cheese hilariously known as ‘Gary’). It was smooth, creamy, and just the right amount of sweet. Then, I had the almond and forest fruit slice. The tart berries made for a perfect contrast with the sweet, rich cake. Finally, I had the adorably pink strawberry slice with marzipan topping. It tasted just like a strawberry milkshake and the tiny flower on top was almost too cute to eat.
Slowing down a bit, we nonetheless valiantly moved along to the top tier which was filled with scones — a plain and a currant scone for each of us. We were also given heaps of jam and a vegan version of clotted cream. I think these scones could convert any non-vegan. How were they so buttery without butter? How was the cream so creamy? Vegan baking is truly magic. We only got through one scone each before admitting defeat and packing up the rest to take home. I offered my omni housemate a bite of one, and if I can recall correctly, her words were “Oh wow…That’s really good!”. She also agreed that it was pretty much indistinguishable from a non-vegan scone.
I can happily say that my first afternoon tea was everything I had hoped for. My only complaint was not having a big enough stomach to eat all of it at once.Trust me, I would have. This would definitely be the perfect place to take your non-vegan friends or family members who thinks vegans can only eat ‘rabbit food’. I would be surprised if any vegetarians or omnivores were disappointed by the spread or missed the eggs and dairy.
Earthcake is yet another reason why Bristol is such a wonderful, vegan-friendly city. I’m so glad that places like this exist. They prove that indulgence doesn’t need to come at the expense of another being — and that being vegan doesn’t have to mean missing out!