Sep 22, 2005|
Afternoon tea is hip again. Fashionistas Stella McCartney and Kate Moss are leading the charge to London’s tearooms, where big-name fashion companies are designing delicate little morsels such as Gucci bikini biscuits, Dolce & Gabbana tropical éclairs, and bright yellow Yves Saint Laurent panna cotta for the Berkeley Hotel. Here in Hong Kong, tai-tais, gourmands and foodies are cheering the revival – after all, who doesn’t like to stop for tea? It’s a tradition with a long and noble history, said to have been started by one of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting, Anna Duchess of Bedford, who found herself getting a little peckish between lunch and dinner. It’s a civilized affair, calling for the best china, silver spoons, elegant nibbles and the ritual pouring of the brew through strainers – strictly no teabags here - while you exchange gossip or seal a deal. Hong Kong’s five-star hotels have long been able to teach the Brits – and anyone else for that matter – a thing or two about serving tea. Just ask anyone who has whiled away an afternoon in the Peninsula Lobby or the Clipper Lounge. And upping the ante in the tea stakes are two newcomers: the Four Seasons and the Landmark Mandarin Oriental. Tea, anyone?
8 Finance St., Central, 3196-8888.
This is sure to be an instant hit among the nosey-parkers who are just itching to get inside the city’s newest destination hotel. Afternoon tea is served in the Lounge, adjacent to the lobby and a dramatic, six-storey glass atrium. The food will have to work hard to live up to the majesty of the surroundings: original artwork, curving planes, luminescent metallic rays, contrasting timber paneling and a magnificent harbor view. After you’ve feasted your eyes on the décor, concentrate on your plate, where you’ll find scones, mini sandwiches and mini pastries cooked up in a kitchen overseen by a three Michelin-star chef.
Tea: Sip mint and Earl Grey tea while live musicians tinkle away in the background.
Tab: Afternoon tea in the Lounge is $190.
Landmark Mandarin Oriental, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central. 2132-0077.
Overlooking the bustling heart of Central, funky MO is a bar by night and restaurant by day. In between, it serves afternoon tea in bright, ultra-modern and spacious surroundings, an alternative to the more, er, stuffy tearooms around town. The food is pretty traditional, however, with bite-sized sandwiches and freshly made scones served with clotted cream and jam made in France by a blind man, which, uh, makes it better?
Tea: As well as the usual suspects, it serves Ming Cha tea.
Time: 3pm-5:30 pm.
Tab: $190 for one or $330 for two
G/F, Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2366-6251.
A must-do Hong Kong experience, the Peninsula Lobby serves what some regard as the crème de la crème of afternoon teas. Traditional right down to the eggshell-thin bone china and three-tiered stands, it’s the location that makes this tea a winner: soaring ceiling, gilded classical columns and potted palms. The tea includes a choice of finger sandwiches, buttery scones and traditional savories such as stilton and leek tart. Perfect for impressing guests, you will win brownie points for doing business here.
Tea: Top-notch teas including the Peninsula’s own range.
Time: 2pm-7pm daily.
Tab: Peninsula Classic Afternoon Tea, $220 for one person or $320 for two.
Mandarin Oriental, 5 Connaught Road, Central, 2522 0111.
The city’s movers and shakers have been sitting down to tea on the mezzanine floor of the Mandarin Oriental for three decades. Large tables, plush armchairs and soothing live piano music make this a relaxing little spot, and the morsels on the tea stand are downright delicious. As well as the usual suspects such as sandwiches, scones and tartlets, the Clipper Lounge serves French toast and savories such as crabmeat and ratatouille quiche. Beware, no reservations are allowed here, so luck better be on your side when getting a table.
Tea: All kinds of tea, but try the fruit-flavored options such as the orange pickle and black lychee.
Tab: $160 for one person, or $300 for two.
The Grand Hyatt, 1 Harbor Rd., Wan Chai, 2584-7822.
The Tiffin Lounge has it all: a killer view of city, garden and sparkling harbor, and an excellent string quartet. Popular with the business crowd and families, the spacious lounge is located near the grand staircase, making it a place to be seen – although not heard, thanks to the widely spaced tables. Perhaps that’s why the suits gather here in such numbers. As for the food, the afternoon tea set focuses on sweet treats – strawberry with yogurt tea, Caribbean summer tea – so if you prefer savories opt for the afternoon buffet.
Tea: Ronnefeldt teas are available for $42.
Time: “Tea at Tiffin” runs from 3:15pm to 6pm (3:45pm-6pm on Sundays)
Tab: High Tea Set is $160 per person or $300 for two.