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I tried Marks & Spencer's letterbox afternoon tea for Mother's Day - and there was one problem

Birmingham Mail 17/03/2023 Emily Collis

Afternoon tea delivered straight to your door like a takeaway. I thought it was genius and wondered how I'd never heard of it before.

More importantly, M&S's Afternoon Tea Letterbox sounded like the perfect Mother's Day present and I was in the market for a gift for my mum. Turns out it wasn't QUITE what it said on the tin.

Marks' Letterbox Gifts range from brownies to Percy Pigs, with prices starting from £18. The afternoon tea option sounded incredible - Victoria sandwiches, all-butter milk Viennese chocolate dipped fingers, Luxury Gold tea bags, millionaire shortbreads, carrot cake walnut slices and shortbread fingers - all for £20. You can even add a gift message.

Read more: Aldi, Morrisons and M&S - the best supermarket afternoon tea deals for Mother's Day

I noticed there were no scones on the list and couldn't help but think, 'is it even afternoon tea without them!?' Then I imagined the postman trying to cram a box of crumbling scones through the letterbox and realised why.

I waited with anticipation for the box to land on my doormat with that day's post. "Send festive favourites, indulgent brownies or delicious afternoon teas straight through their door," says the M&S website. The only problem was it didn't fit.

Photo shows hand holding the box © BirminghamLive Photo shows hand holding the box

Thankfully someone was in at the time - the delivery man knocked the door and handed over the oblong box. It was too big depth-wise to go through the letterbox (I even tested it on my mum and dad's door to make sure mine wasn't oddly-shaped).

It struck me as a fundamental flaw, but I was still hopeful the contents would taste as good as they looked online. The lid opened to reveal a neatly-wrapped selection of goodies, with a note on top telling me to 'put the kettle on, sit back and enjoy'.

Four chunky cake slices - two carrot, two Victoria sponge - were individually wrapped, as were the millionaire shortbreads. There was a golden bag containing 16 'luxury' tea bags and a red one packed with 24 mini shortbread fingers. The only item not on the list was a box of Extremely Chocolatey Rounds - which just so happens to by my absolute favourite biscuit - substituted for the Viennese fingers. Result.

I stuck the kettle on and poured myself a cuppa using one of the fancy tea bags to wash down my sweet feast. I wasn't sure how a cup of tea could be luxury, but it did taste smoother than our usual brand.

Starting with the Victoria sponge, I tucked in. It tasted surprisingly fresh - like the cakes you get in the fridge section at the supermarket. The sponge was moist and bouncy and the cream was thick, balancing the tangy jam.

Carrot cake isn't something I'd usually choose to eat, but this one was soft, with the added crunch from the walnuts, and bursting with warming flavours that reminded me a little of Christmas cake. The use-by date on the cakes was two days after delivery - something to be aware of if you're planning to send one for a special occasion.

Photo shows inside the box © BirminghamLive Photo shows inside the box

If you haven't tried M&S's Chocolate Rounds before, buy them immediately. I prefer the white chocolate ones, but these were lovely too. They're more chocolate than biscuit but still crumbly in the middle - the type of biscuits that are too good to just have the one.

The bitesize shortbreads were buttery and melt-in-your-mouth and the millionaire slices were rich and indulgent - almost equal parts biscuit, smooth caramel and chocolate. Even just trying one of everything, it was a lot of sugar and quite sickly without the savoury sandwiches you'd usually have with an afternoon tea.

But, everything tasted amazing. M&S's Letterbox Afternoon Tea was a gift from me to me, but it felt like the ultimate pick-me-up in what had been a stressful week.

I've no doubt any mum would love it. Just make sure she's at home to answer the door when it's delivered.


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