I tried the new book-themed afternoon tea in Edinburgh and it is perfect for book lovers like me

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A perfect afternoon tea for book lovers

I’ve been obsessed with books pretty much all of my life, and I don’t just mean reading a few chapters before bed.

It started with reading my way through all Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven stories, before falling in love with anything and everything written by Jacqueline Wilson when I was a teenager.

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At secondary school, I was one of the few people in my class who actually enjoyed studying the likes of Jane Eyre, Lord of the Flies and The Great Gatsby - so much so, that I went on to study English Literature for four years at university.

Over the last 10 years, I’ve made it my mission to visit as many authors’ houses as I can (Louisa May Alcott, Edgar Allen Poe and Beatrix Potter being just a few of the ones I’ve ticked off), and I even scheduled a (pretty long) detour while driving through the Deep South in 2015 so I could visit Monroeville, Alabama - the town on which Harper Lee’s Maycomb County in To Kill a Mockingbird is based.

The One Square Brasserie at Edinburgh's Sheraton Grand Hotel has launched a new author-themed afternoon teaThe One Square Brasserie at Edinburgh's Sheraton Grand Hotel has launched a new author-themed afternoon tea
The One Square Brasserie at Edinburgh's Sheraton Grand Hotel has launched a new author-themed afternoon tea | Rhoda Morrison

So you can imagine my delight when I was told that the One Square Brasserie at Edinburgh’s Sheraton Grand Hotel was launching a new afternoon tea (another of my favourite things) which is inspired by several of the city’s storytellers and the books they are famous for.

The launch is aptly timed, with this year marking 20 years since Edinburgh became the first UNESCO City of Literature. And from the minute we arrived at the Sheraton on a sunny Saturday, greeted by a harpist playing stunning notes, it felt like a celebration.

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The afternoon tea isn’t cheap, with prices starting from £59 per person. That can go up with added extras like a glass of champagne (which costs an extra £15, or £17 for rosé) and also a glass of non-alcoholic sparkling tea (which costs an extra £9).

But when the food was delivered to our table, we saw the amount of thought and detail which had gone into making the experience as special as possible.

The author-inspired savoury bites are served in a book-shaped tin The author-inspired savoury bites are served in a book-shaped tin
The author-inspired savoury bites are served in a book-shaped tin | Rhoda Morrison

The menu - or the ‘enchanting little book of afternoon tea and delights’ as it is called - is set out like a little novel and takes you through each author and how they have inspired their corresponding dish.

Unlike most afternoon teas, where sandwiches are served alongside the sweet offerings, the savoury dishes came to the table first and were beautifully presented in a book-shaped tin with poetry on the paper lining.

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Among the bites inside was a haggis bon bon with soured neeps chutney - an ode to Robert Burns and his Address to a Haggis - and a Lind and Lime cured salmon and dill cream cheese pin wheel with poppy seeds, inspired by Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting.

As a pescatarian, I was given the chance to sample the vegetarian haggis which was absolutely delicious with the tangy chutney. I was also served a roasted red pepper and aubergine brioche roll which I was expecting to be a bit too squishy for my liking but the smoky vegetables balanced really well with the crunchy pickles and sweet sauce.

The vegetarian board at the author-themed afternoon teaThe vegetarian board at the author-themed afternoon tea
The vegetarian board at the author-themed afternoon tea | Rhoda Morrison

The vegetarian alternative to the salmon pin wheel was a Lind and Lime cured beetroot wrap which was a really pleasant surprise and one of my favourites on the plate.

Most surprising of the whole lot was the fact that, for both me and my carnivorous friend who rarely orders (or enjoys) anything that doesn’t come with some sort of meat, it was two other vegetarian bites that stole the show.

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Inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, a cucumber sandwich with parsley, lemon cream cheese and a spicy chilli, mint and avocado purée was a brilliant twist on an afternoon tea classic. And the fresh, creamy asparagus and sweet pea velouté with truffle creme fraîche was another unexpected standout.

We washed these down with the Jasmine Silver Needle and Raspberry and Rose teas which we chose out of the eight flavours on offer.

The show-stopping desserts were brought out on a three-tiered towerThe show-stopping desserts were brought out on a three-tiered tower
The show-stopping desserts were brought out on a three-tiered tower | Rhoda Morrison

After all that food, I’m sure you’re wondering how we managed to fit in the three-tiered tower of cakes and scones that were soon making their way to our table - and we were thinking the exact same thing.

But once we saw the treats on offer, which were so incredibly cool-looking to say the least, we had to find some room.

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Along with four perfectly cooked scones, two plain and two raisin and candied orange flavoured, there were four different desserts each of which was dressed up to match the author - or stories - they were inspired by.

A dark chocolate mousse with sweet vermouth and morello cherry was topped with a chocolate quill in tribute to arguably Edinburgh’s most famous writer, Sir Walter Scott, and the cocktail named after his novel, Rob Roy.

Two of the desserts paid homage to Arthur Conan Doyle and JK RowlingTwo of the desserts paid homage to Arthur Conan Doyle and JK Rowling
Two of the desserts paid homage to Arthur Conan Doyle and JK Rowling | Rhoda Morrison

An elegant white chocolate swan sat on top of a floral and sweet blueberry profiterole as an ode to the storytelling talents of the Scottish Ballet.

A tartan Sherlock Holmes was the focal point of a fruity raspberry cranachan bar, and it doesn’t take a wizard to work out what books the Eggs-otic tart, topped with every flavoured beans, a pair of chocolate glasses and a lightning strike, was based on. The colourful pudding is sure to be a hit with any fans of JK Rowling and the Harry Potter series.

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The sweets were all delicious, my favourite being the blueberry profiterole, and they were all washed down with a refreshing jasmine sparkling tea which was a lovely change from the warm drinks we’d had earlier.

Sir Walter Scott and the Scottish Ballet were also among the storytellers which inspired the afternoon teaSir Walter Scott and the Scottish Ballet were also among the storytellers which inspired the afternoon tea
Sir Walter Scott and the Scottish Ballet were also among the storytellers which inspired the afternoon tea | Rhoda Morrison

Everything about the experience screamed luxury, from the harpist and the attentive staff at the Sheraton to the incredible food and drink on offer.

While it is perhaps on the slightly higher end when it comes to pricing, the amount of food you get at this experience, and the quality of everything on the menu, means this afternoon tea provides everyone - book lover or not - with something to write home about.

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