Is it afternoon tea or high tea?
The terms are often used interchangeably now, but they have different British origins.
Afternoon tea was offered mid-afternoon to fill the long wait between lunch and dinner and was traditionally served with scones with jam and cream, cakes and pastries.
High tea was originally served to royal gatherings on posh high-backed chairs, but it became a working-class replacement for dinner during the Industrial Revolution. It is more likely to be a variety of dishes such as cold meats, fish and salads as well as baked goods. High tea is served later in the day, more like a traditional evening meal.
In Hong Kong, afternoon tea is much more likely to be in the mid-afternoon, but the dishes served can be as adventurous as you are. Read more here.
Afternoon tea collaborations
Given its history, it’s no surprise that afternoon tea and tea parties as we know them have leaned towards a feminine audience. However, with nouveau twists to this traditional social ritual, establishments are attracting clientele across a spectrum of ages, genders and professions.
Afternoon tea was originally hosted in the grounds of Queen Victoria’s stately manors and castles – venues of luxurious grandeur in comparison to most of modern-day Hong Kong’s living spaces, which are customarily unadorned and very much lived in. Perhaps this is the reason that afternoon tea has become a service offered by luxury hotels worldwide. For afternoon tea to now be taken in bright and shining deluxe hotels seems the natural progression, from 19th-century manor houses to the equivalent modern-day socialising event.
After all, people love an excuse to put on their glad rags and meet up with friends, but the element of luxury is what makes afternoon tea that little bit more special – there are plenty of cafés for an average catch-up! What we have today is a very different creature, with a wide availability and variety of delicious afternoon teas that attract people looking for special experiences. It is, perhaps, the exclusivity of afternoon tea that makes it so attractive.
In the past decade, it has been increasingly popular to combine the typically high-class practice of afternoon tea with the glamour of designer brands. What do we mean by this? Many luxury hotels around Hong Kong (and, indeed, worldwide) have collaborated with multi-billion-dollar beauty, jewellery and fashion brands as well as pop-culture franchises to inspire their afternoon tea themes. With these collaborations, clientele can expect to live a lifestyle of luxury in both the social and material aspects – just like the creator of afternoon tea herself, the Duchess of Bedford!
Ongoing afternoon teas
The Butterfly Room, Rosewood Hong Kong
Gorgeous The Butterfly Room at Rosewood Hong Kong may just be our pick for best afternoon tea in town. The space is glam but comfortable and the unique food offerings top notch. The tea set itself is quite filling, so it would make for a perfect early dinner, with afternoon tea served until 7pm on weekends. The savouries include a sizeable and moreish chicken vol-au-vent, but what really makes our eyes sparkle are the pastry and confectionery trolleys – take your pick from the likes of chocolate canelé, 70% chocolate tart, mixed berry Charlotte cake, hazelnut eclair, cheesecake and many more exquisite delicacies.
Price: $380/1 or $758/2; +$130/glass of Delamotte champagne
When: daily (weekdays 1–6pm; weekends and public holidays, 12–7pm)
2/F, Rosewood Hong Kong, Victoria Dockside,18 Salisbury Road, 3891 8732, book online (afternoon tea bookings only available online)
Al-fresco dining overlooking picturesque Repulse Bay, The Verandah gives traditional afternoon tea a modern transformation. The Verandah chefs have created seasonal delights like a decadent truffle scrambled egg tartlet with crabmeat salad that’s in homage to the classic egg sandwich. Bayonne ham dust, Parmesan mousse, cucumber, tomato, red onion and mixed cereal bread roll replace the traditional ham sandwich. There are also caramel chocolate pillows, coconut marshmallow twists and matcha and hazelnut praline domes alongside cold-brewed fruit tea (+$78) for some five-star munching. Not to be missed are the restaurant’s two unique tea blends, which change regularly but could include flavours such as rose green tea and spicy caramel black tea.
Price: $328/1 or $608/2 on weekdays; $348/1 or $628/2 on weekends and public holidays
When: daily, 3–5:30pm
109 Repulse Bay Road, Repulse Bay, 2292 2822, book online
Afternoon tea is given a local Hong Kong spin at COBO HOUSE with Chef Davin Kim’s Cha Chaan tea set, featuring four savoury snacks and eight desserts. Indulge in a pineapple bun filled with homemade butter blended with fresh uni, endive topped with galbi beef and homemade flatbread topped with ruby chocolate shavings, curiously named “cheese dirty roll”. The “burger and egg” is made of chocolate mousse with egg-shaped marshmallows, while the “sweet hot dog” is a sausage-shaped macaron drizzled with mango sauce. Also on the menu are the restaurant’s own branded artisanal chocolate bonbons and homemade plain and Earl Grey scones. Limited to just 10 sets per day, guests are offered a selection of environmentally friendly Løv tea and Costadoro coffee.
When: weekends and public holidays, 3–5:30pm
G/F and 1/F, 8–12 South Lane, Shek Tong Tsui, 2656 3088, book online
Spanish-inspired afternoon tea at La Rambla
La Rambla has pioneered the first Spanish afternoon tea set in town. Chef Ferran Tadeo’s sweet and savoury tapas-style delights are paired with freshly brewed loose-leaf tea from local tea company PLANTATION by teakha or coffee courtesy of Elephant Grounds. Bites include the eatery’s signature avocado lobster, ham croquettes, truffle bikinis and a churro sundae with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.
Price: $480/2; +$110/glass of Agustí Torelló cava or G&T; $390/glass of Krug Grande Cuvée champagne
When: daily, 3–5pm
Shop 3071–73, 3/F, ifc mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, 2661 1161, book online
The Lounge, JW Marriott
JW Marriott’s The Lounge has unveiled an East-meets-West afternoon tea set. The new savouries include mango lobster salad with caviar, abalone tart, tiger prawn spring roll and cured Japanese Momotaro tomato with preserved plum sauce, while matcha tiramisu, red velvet cupcake, yuzu macaron and sakura Swiss roll delight on the sweet side. Scones with jam and clotted cream complemented by a cup of TWG Tea or Graffeo coffee complete the experience.
Price: $268/1 or $468/2 (weekdays); $288/1 or $488/2 (weekends and public holidays); +$100/glass of champagne
When: daily, 3:30–6pm
Lobby, JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, 2810 8366, book online
Ruinart afternoon tea at Statement
In association with esteemed champagne house Ruinart, elegant modern British restaurant Statement has launched its first afternoon tea , which we recommend enjoying out on the historic colonial-style veranda. Served on a stunning spiral metal art piece that pays homage to the Ruinart bottle, Statement’s afternoon tea treats are British classics with a modern flair – from celeriac tartelette with pickled vegetables and cauliflower purée and walnut and Lancashire cheese puff to vanilla and acacia honey cream choux and chocolate and orange slice. We’re most looking forward to trying the buttermilk Devon scones with lashings of homemade strawberry jam and authentic Cornish clotted cream. Pinkies at the ready!
Price: $388/1 to include glass of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs
When: daily, 3–5pm
2/F, Block 01, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central, 2848 3000, book online
Miss Lee’s vegetarian Let’s Partea
Modern Chinese vegetarian eatery Miss Lee has debuted an all-veggie afternoon set at a truly unbeatable price – under $100 for five courses! The small bites include beetroot tart with vegan curry mayo, mushroom steamed bun with BBQ sauce, fried bean curd with vegan sesame dressing, mashed potato with glutinous rice foam and purple rice coconut udon with mango purée. It’s time to get our veg on!
When: daily, 3–5:30pm
G/F, The Wellington, 198 Wellington Street, Sheung Wan, 2881 1811
Dreamy, flower-filled Dear Lilly makes for a romantic spot for afternoon tea, launching a three-tiered set that includes a selection of tea sandwiches, classic scones with cream and jam and French delicacies such as raspberry tart, opera cake and religieuse choux.
Price: $298/2; +$70/glass of champagne or Mademoiselle Lilly cocktail
When: daily, 2:30–5:30pm
Shop 4010, 4/F, ifc mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, 2771 6060 (no bookings for afternoon tea)
Treasures of the Blue afternoon tea at Alibi, Cordis
Sustainable seafood is the focus of this new Insta-worthy afternoon tea at Alibi – Wine Dine Be Social, which includes a tropical Golden Pineapple cocktail to whet your whistle. There are tempting under-the-sea savoury bites like miso-marinated black cod with avocado purée and squid-ink tapioca “coral” and Atlantic salmon tartare with bergamot, sesame and crispy seaweed, plus sweet treasures from the deep – jewels like a sea-salt caramel “gold bar”, “jade” green tea tiramisu and “pearl” white chocolate and white peach mousse.
Price: $488/2; +$98/2 glasses of Perrier-Jouët
When: daily, 3–5:30pm, from 1 April 2020
5/F, Cordis, Hong Kong, 555 Shanghai Street, Mongkok, 3552 3028, book online
HK-themed afternoon tea buffet at The Place, Cordis
Cordis hotel’s stylish, spacious buffet restaurant The Place has relaunched it teatime buffet with live cooking stations themed around Hong Kong delicacies. From prawn toast, curry fish balls, fried instant noodles, beef macaroni in tomato soup and honey BBQ pork rice with fried egg to tea-inspired desserts such as bubble tea pudding, matcha cheesecake, Earl Grey tart and green tea waffle, it’s all about the 852 with this spread.
Price: $318/adult; $238/child or senior citizen
When: weekends and public holidays, 3:15–5:30pm, from 4 April 2020
4/F (Lobby), Cordis, Hong Kong, 555 Shanghai Street, Mongkok, 3552 3028, book online
Fine-dining modern Australian newcomer HUE has launched an afternoon tea set that’s all about the flavours of Oz – from South Australian spanner crab with cucumber and Rangers Valley beef skewers to mini pavlovas with white chocolate ganache and passion fruit and rhubarb jam lamingtons. We’re particularly jonesing for the homemade scones, which we’ll be slathering with heaps of orange and thyme marmalade, raspberry rhubarb jam and vanilla cream. While the current social-distancing rules remain in place, diners will be seated at tables for two by the window, with everyone getting awesome harbour views, and like every meal at HUE, afternoon tea starts with a complimentary immune-boosting juice shot or soup of the day.
Price: $680/2; +55/mocktail; +$90/glass of Taittinger Brut Réserve
When: weekends, 3:30–5pm, from 18 April 2020
1/F, Hong Kong Museum of Art, 10 Salisbury Road, TST, 3500 5888, book online
The Envoy, The Pottinger Hong Kong
British colonial-inspired bar and restaurant The Envoy has launched an old-school afternoon tea set that includes a dim sum order sheet where guests can mix and match their choices, choosing up to six of the eight savouries and six sweets on offer each season – all presented in The Envoy’s signature tiffin box – from Auntie’s netted pork spring roll, sambal popcorn shrimp and Parma ham and truffle salami sandwich to pandan chiffon roll, Malaysian coconut mango macaron and fudge chocolate brownie.
Price: $170/1; +$40 to upgrade to pandan latte, matcha mocha, passion fruit coconut latte or other coffee/tea drink
When: daily (weekdays, 3–5:30pm; weekends and public holidays, 4–5:30pm)
3/F, The Pottinger Hong Kong, 74 Queen’s Road Central (entrance at 21 Stanley Street), Central, 2169 3311, book online
Limited-time afternoon tea collaborations
Cookie DPT x Café Gray Deluxe, The Upper House
The cookie monsters over at Cookie DPT have launched a scrumptious afternoon tea collaboration at Café Gray Deluxe to coincide with the brand’s temporary pop-up at the hotel. The set features three Cookie DPT creations – Earl “Gray” cookie, black truffle Cheddar biscuit and mini red velvet cupcake – alongside sweets and savouries from Café Gray Deluxe such as beef and black garlic choux, yuzu coconut gateau and peach verrine. Book with promotion code TUHCookieDPT to get a little gift from Cookie DPT.
Price: $285/1 or $480/2
When: daily, 3:30–5:30pm, 1 June–31 July 2020
49/F, The Upper House, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, 3968 1106, book online
Baileys & Häagen-Dazs x GREEN, Hotel ICON
This sweet and boozy afternoon tea at Hotel ICON’s relaxing brasserie GREEN is highlighted by desserts made with Baileys Original Irish Cream and Baileys Chocolat Luxe. The sweet treats include Baileys soft-serve ice cream, Baileys macarons and Baileys and hazelnut chocolate truffles, but most people will have their eyes on the prize of the Baileys chocolate fondue, served with a selection of dippers alongside Häagen-Dazs ice cream. Baileys cocktails or free-flowing sparkling wine/champers can be added to up the indulgence.
Price: $328/1 or $598/2; +$58/Baileys cocktail; +$98/person for free-flow sparkling wine; +$298/person for free-flow champagne
When: daily, 3–7pm (two seatings – 3–5pm and 5–7pm), 1 June–31 July 2020
Summer Meadow afternoon tea, The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong
One of the highest venues for afternoon tea in Hong Kong, The Lounge & Bar on the 102nd floor of The Ritz-Carlton is offering a lovely afternoon tea set this summer featuring creative bites and cocktails made with St-Germain elderflower liqueur. Highlights include a foie gras sandwich with mushroom, raspberry and St-Germain duxelles, a coconut, passion fruit and St-Germain verrine and the Berries Elixir cocktail, shaken with St-Germain, sake, lemon juice, strawberry purée and champagne.
Price: $418/1 or $698/2; +$95/St-Germain cocktail
When: daily (weekdays, 3–6pm; weekends and public holidays, 2:15–4:15pm or 4:30–6:30pm), 22 June–13 September 2020
102/F, The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon, 2263 2270, email@example.com
The Summer Picnic afternoon Tea at Palm Court, The Langham, Hong Kong
Timeless Palm Court at The Langham’s annual summer afternoon tea offering is always eagerly anticipated. This year, the garden-inspired tea set is charmingly presented in a picnic basket that’s brimming with goodies including Scotch quail egg with black garlic purée, mini asparagus and feta quiche, Japanese-style fresh fruit sando with mango and kiwi and raspberry buttercream macaron lollipop.
Price: $398/1 or $688/2; to upgrade to a glass of champagne, $558/1 or $988/2
When: daily (weekdays, 3–5:30pm; weekends and public holidays, 2:15–4:15pm or 4:30–6:30pm), 1 July–30 September 2020
Lobby, The Langham, Hong Kong, 8 Peking Road, TST, 2132 7898, book online
California Summer afternoon tea at Mirage Bar & Restaurant, Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View Hotel
It’s all about fruits and seasonal produce from Cali at Mirage this summer. This means you’ll be digging into the likes of fish tacos, ginger and sesame chicken salad, Impossible sliders (the plant-based meat originates in California), California strawberry tart, sweet avocado pastry and California raisin scones. We’re going back to Cali… in spirit at least.
Price: $198/1 (weekdays) or $218/1 (weekends and public holidays)
When: daily, 3–5:30pm, 1 July–30 September 2020
1/F, Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View Hotel, 1 Harbour Road, Wanchai, 2802 8888, book online
L’OCCITANE x Le Méridien Cyberport
In true French partnership, Le Méridien Cyberport’s Prompt Bistro has teamed up with beloved French beauty brand L’OCCITANE en Provence for a summery afternoon tea themed after the South of France. The sweets section includes two scoops each of bourbon vanilla gelato and lemon verbena sorbet – the icing on the cake for us. The set comes with two L’OCCITANE gift packs plus discount vouchers.
Price: $398/2; +$100 to upgrade to 2 house cocktails, sparkling wine or house red or white wine
When: daily, 3–5pm, 2 July–30 September 2020
4/F, Le Méridien Cyberport, 100 Cyberport Road, Cyberport, 2980 7417, book online
Mr Men Studio x AMMO
AMMO – the glittering restaurant surrounded by lush foliage housed within Asia Society – has launched a playful afternoon tea set in honour of the lovable Mr Men and Little Miss children’s book characters featuring limited-edition treats such as smoked salmon finger sandwiches fit for Little Miss Princess, Little Miss Sunshine’s lemon macaron and Mr Men’s finest scones. Each set comes with two personalised mugs, choosing from 20 of the most iconic Mr Men and Little Miss characters.
Price: $548/2 (including service charge); +$68/AMMO Garden mocktail or cocktail
When: daily, 3–5pm, 4 July–27 September 2020
Lower Level, Asia Society Hong Kong, 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty, 2537 9888, book online (book at least 4 days in advance)
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