Header image: homemade scones and madeleines at The Butterfly Room, Rosewood Hong Kong
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 choice 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, depending on current dine-in restrictions. 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)
Dim sum afternoon tea at Holt’s Café, Rosewood Hong Kong
For a change of pace, Rosewood Hong Kong’s upscale chan chaan teng Holt’s Café has launched a delectable-sounding dim sum afternoon tea set showcasing seven Chinese delicacies such as braised abalone siu mai, BBQ pork puff, prawn toast, egg tart and mango pomelo sago. Complement all his yum cha goodness with a choice of one of four exquisite Chinese teas selected by the hotel’s tea sommelier, Alan Leung. Perfect for a spot of tea post Hong Kong Museum of Art wandering, which can be taken in the main dining room, within the elegant Tea Conservatory or on the terrace. An even more special option is the Tea Journey, where guests sit at a dedicated tea table to experience five exquisite teas hand-chosen by tea master Alan Leung. Each tea is paired with an indulgent small bite – for example, premium Lion’s Peak Dragon Well green tea is served with a lobster and caviar dumpling.
Price: $580/2; $880/1 for the Tea Journey, to include a canister of tea to take home
When: daily, 2:30–5:30pm
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; +$40/glass of freshly squeezed juice; from +$158/glass of champagne
When: daily, 3–5:30pm
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.
For autumn/winter 2020, La Rambla has unveiled the Las Perlas afternoon tea set comprised of Kaviari caviar-infused savoury bites, sweet pastries and a choice of loose-leaf tea or coffee. The savouries – from smoked salmon bao, to traditional blinis, to churros with sour cream and dill – are the stars here. Top them all off with lashings of caviar and say no more!
Price: $480/2 to include 30g of ikura (salmon roe); $800/2 to include 30g of Baeri caviar; +$400/glass of Dom Pérignon 2010
When: daily, 3–5pm
JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong
JW Marriott’s The Lounge offers an elegant East-meets-West afternoon tea set. The 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 Moёt & Chandon champagne
When: daily, 3:30–6pm
Ruinart afternoon tea at Statement
In association with esteemed champagne house Ruinart, 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 (2-person minimum required)
When: Thursday–Sunday, 3–5pm
Miss Lee’s Vegan Par-tea
Modern Chinese vegetarian eatery Miss Lee is now offering an all-vegan afternoon tea set at a great price. The elegantly presented small bites include hawthorn and black sesame scones, rice rolls with XO sauce on mashed potato foam, tapicoa crackers in wasabi and lotus root and curry and beetroot flavours and steamed red date and coconut milk cake. It’s time to get our veg on!
Price: $138/1 (2-person minimum)
When: daily, 4–6pm
Dreamy, flower-filled Dear Lilly makes for a romantic spot for afternoon tea, offering a three-tiered set that includes a selection of tea sandwiches, classic scones with cream and jam and sweets such as peanut butter chocolate mousse, lemon cheesecake and strawberry shortcake.
Price: $318/2; +$70/glass of champagne or Mademoiselle Lilly cocktail
When: daily, 2:30–5:30pm (2-hour time limit)
Treasures of the Blue afternoon tea at Alibi, Cordis, Hong Kong
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
HK-themed afternoon tea buffet at The Place, Cordis, Hong Kong
Cordis hotel’s stylish, spacious buffet restaurant The Place has relaunched its 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
Fine-dining modern Australian restaurant HUE has redesigned its popular afternoon tea with a view. The tea set includes Aussie-inspired bites such as prawn cocktail, devilled quail eggs on toast, mini pavlovas with white chocolate ganache and persimmon and matcha lamingtons. We’re particularly jonesing for the homemade scones, which we’ll be spreading with heaps of orange and thyme marmalade, raspberry rhubarb jam and vanilla cream.
Throughout January and February 2021, a Chinese New Year–inspired lo bak go (savoury radish cake with chorizo) and red velvet cake with dates and cream cheese will also be featured in the afternoon tea set.
Price: $680/2; +$55/mocktail; +$100/glass of Taittinger Brut Réserve NV
When: Saturday, Sunday and public holidays, 3:30–5:30pm
The Envoy, The Pottinger Hong Kong
British colonial-inspired bar and restaurant The Envoy presents 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 chocolate fudge brownie.
Price: $185/1; +$40 to upgrade to pandan latte, matcha mocha, passion fruit coconut latte or kinako latte
When: daily (weekdays, 3–5:30pm; weekends and public holidays, 4–5:30pm)
Tiffany T1 afternoon tea at The Tiffany Blue Box Cafe
Blue Box’s iconic afternoon tea has gotten a healthy makeover, this time inspired by the new Tiffany T1 jewellery collection. Described as a collection for empowered women, the tea set features delicious items with health benefits including white peach panna cotta with red grape kombucha jelly and redcurrant and goji berry strawberry gateau. But there are plenty of more, shall we say, indulgent treats too such as foie gras terrine with glazed hazelnuts and dark chocolate, deep-fried risotto ball with chorizo, pimiento, zucchini and mozzarella, brown butter madeleines, coffee opera cake and the Tiffany Bird’s Nest, topped with marshmallow chocolate eggs in the brand’s signature colour. Guess you can have your cake and eat it too!
Price: $688/2; +$88/Tiffany Blue cocktail; +$150/glass of Perrier-Jouët
When: daily, 2–6:30pm
Thai-inspired afternoon tea at Mango Tree ELEMENTS
Afternoon tea with a Thai flair comes to Mango Tree’s ELEMENTS location. There are both sweets (such as sticky rice with mango and pandan layer cake) and savouries (like yellow curry in crispy bread and pomelo salad with crabmeat) up for ordering, as well as special drinks such as pineapple shaved ice with mixed berries and shaved ice with coconut milk and grass jelly.
Price: $138/2 for sweet set; $238/2 for savoury set; $328/2 for sweet + savoury set, to include 2 special drinks
When: daily, 3–5:30pm
Shop 2032, 2/F, ELEMENTS, 1 Austin Road West, TST, 2668 4884
Tea Saloon by AnotherFineDay
Tea Saloon’s charming Mid-Levels branch may have shut in autumn 2019, but they have recently relocated to Wong Chuk Hang, where they produce cakes, tea snacks and other catering items alongside their fine tea selection. Their afternoon tea set is now available for delivery! It includes a dozen sweets and savouries, plus Victorian drop scones with French butter and homemade strawberry and rose jam and a choice of tea.
Price: $498/2; $1,288 to include three-tier handcrafted silver-plated brass cake stand; delivery surcharges apply
When: Thursday–Sunday, with advance order; pick up at Wong Chuk Hang atelier or order for delivery
The Drawing Room, The St. Regis Hong Kong
If you prefer savoury to sweet, elegant The Drawing Room should be your pick of the tea lot – served on trolleys, you can mix and match your sweet and savoury bites, up to a total of eight (so go for all savoury if the fancy strikes), alongside freshly baked scones. The bites change each season, but we’ve enjoyed the New York Deli (smoked salmon, baby onion bagel, Kiri cheese), Flavours of Japan (poached scallop, homemade blini, cream, yuzu pearl, pink peppercorn, lime, baby shiso), The French Dream (vanilla pastry cream, dark chocolate glaze) and British Bake-off (chiffon sponge, whipped mascarpone Chantilly, toasted almond, preserved fruit).
Price: $398/1 or $718/2; +$48 for each additional food item
When: daily, 2:30–5:30pm
DK Cuppa Tea
Part of local brand DK Aromatherapy, DK Cuppa Tea is a charming tea room in Sheung Wan that offers a whimsical selection of afternoon tea sets that are available for enjoying in their cosy shop or for takeaway or delivery. One of the latest sets is called Oasis Rhapsody, presented in a wicker picnic basket and filled to the brim with cat-themed sweets and savouries – just take a gander at those cat-paw chocolate melts and cat-bum marshmallows! The set is inclusive of your choice of organic floral tea. But check the website from time to time as the sets and prices change frequently.
Price: $298/2; delivery charges start at $50–100 for HK Island (contact to enquire for other locations) + $500 refundable picnic basket rental deposit
When: daily, 11:30am–8:30pm
Taste of Italy afternoon tea at Cucina, Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel
Cucina Chef de Cuisine Andrea Delzanno has crafted this buonissimo tea set that takes us on a tour of Italy with a variety of sweet and savoury bites. This means we can feast on the likes of Calabrian chilli pepper stuffed with tuna and Sicilian cannoli with custard from the south, mini pizza with Parma ham and rocket and candied fruit and ricotta tart from central Italy and heirloom tomato jelly with crabmeat and mozzarella and bomboloni (doughnuts) with chocolate filling and raspberry sauce from the north. In addition to coffee or tea, choose from a selection of exclusive drinks (two cocktails and two mocktails) – we especially like the sound of the Baileycious, fittingly made with Italian liqueur Frangelico.
When: daily (weekdays, 3–5:30pm; weekends and public holidays, 3:30–5:30pm)
Southeast Asian afternoon tea at Monsoon
Will Meyrick’s new Southeast Asian street-food restaurant Monsoon has launched a vibrant – and easy on the wallet – afternoon tea set showcasing the sweet and savoury flavours of the region. The spread includes the likes of soft-shell crab rice paper roll, lemongrass chicken bao, caramelised pork belly, passion fruit cheesecake, pandan custard cream puff and chocolate coconut Aero. There’s also a lovely selection of tea that comes with it – we recommend Monsoon’s refreshing blend of mango peach green tea and rooibos with mixed fruit and mint.
Price: $248/2; +$38/special cocktail or mocktail, sparkling wine, house spirit or draught beer; +$168 for 90-minute free-flow package
When: daily, 3–5:30pm
Afternoon Tea by the Sunset at Paper Moon
Served against the backdrop of Victoria Harbour, Italian restaurant Paper Moon’s new afternoon tea offering includes all sorts of indulgent bites, Italian and otherwise, from lobster sandwich in pink sauce to porcini tart with truffle on the savoury side to tiramisu shooters and freshly made custard- and jam-filled bomboloni – Italian-style doughnuts – on the sweet end. To start, we love the chilled seafood dishes on offer including Irish oysters with red wine vinegar and shallot.
Price: $538/2 (includes 2 servings of tea, coffee or special mocktails/cocktails); +$50/2 glasses of Perrier-Jouët Brut
Soil to Soul’s Beyond Vegan afternoon tea
Contemporary Korean vegetarian restaurant Soil to Soul has launched a Beyond Vegan afternoon tea set, inspired by ancient temple cuisine and available for dine-in or takeaway (40% discount). Four delicate savoury and six sweet treats with Korean herbal tea are on the unique set menu, unlike any other afternoon tea in Hong Kong. We’re most keen to try Chef Gu Jin Kwang’s homemade pickles, which have been fermented in soy sauce at a Korean temple for 10 years.
When: daily from January 2021, 3:30–5pm (available on weekends and public holidays in December, limited to 10 sets a day)
Limited-time afternoon tea collaborations
TAMATAMA Kumquat Afternoon Tea at The Four Seasons Hotel
The Four Seasons starts off this year with a zesty limited-edition afternoon tea featuring fragrant kumquats from Miyazaki prefecture in Japan. The region is the largest producer of kumquats in Japan, with over 2600 tons produced annually, out of which only 1000 tons are of the prized "Tama Tama" category. This coveted fruit is the key ingredient in the limited-edition Four Seasons afternoon tea, and is rich is vitamins C and E, perfect to ward of the winter cold. Crafted by Executive Pastry Chef Ringo Chan, the menu comprises of nine dishes including Japanese wagashi sweets, kumquat parfait monaka, hojicha and kumquat Swiss roll, and foie gras and kumquat jelly mille feuille.
Price: $308/1 or $588/2
When: Monday to Friday, 2:30 to 6:30pm, weekends 2 - 6:15pm until Feb 28th, 2021
Four Seasons Hotel, 8 Finance Street, Central, 3196 8882
Mandarin Grill + Bar Winter Afternoon Tea
Guests hankering for a taste of the legendary Mandarin Grill + Bar can now get an additional treat with the restaurant's special winter afternoon tea, featuring a range of signature dishes by Chef de Cuisine Simon Guthridge and Executive Pastry Chef Christoph Sapy. Tempting offers include classics like the steak tartare on sourdough toast, house-smoked salmon, prawn cocktail sandwiches and freshly baked scones accompanied by the hotel's famous rose petal jam.
Price: $398 per person
When: 3-5pm daily until Feb 12th, 2021
Mandarin Oriental, 5 Connaught Road, Central, 2825 4004
Love Is in the Mail afternoon tea at Three on Canton, Gateway Hotel, Hong Kong
In collaboration with British tea brand Twinings, this lovely afternoon tea set showcases 10 tea-flavoured delights presented on a large postcard-shaped tray – from baked mushroom phyllo with Darjeeling tea leaves to chocolate mascarpone mousse cake flavoured with Earl Grey tea. You’ll also get a set of postcards and a Twinings teabag for you to mail – on the house – to a loved one by dropping them into Three on Canton’s traditional British mailbox (we smell a great IG opportunity!). The set includes a choice of coffee, Twinings tea, cocktail or mocktail and can be enjoyed inside at Three on Canton or at Be on Canton, the eatery’s al-fresco terrace.
Price: $388/1 or $568/2
When: daily, 3–5pm, 5 October 2020–31 January 2021
Shiseido x Madame Fù
Beloved Japanese skincare brand Shiseido has teamed up with glam modern Chinese restaurant Madame Fù for The Ultimate Moment afternoon tea. The sweet and savoury bites are all Japanese inspired, with highlights of yuzu and white chocolate mousse petit gateau, raspberry verrine with shiso gelée and matcha and red bean tartlet. Each guest will receive an exclusive Shiseido trial kit to take home.
Price: $338/1 or $550/2; +$75/Shiseido’s Almost Cocktail Hour mocktail; +$110/Shiseido’s Cocktail Hour cocktail
When: Tuesday–Sunday, 2:30–4:30pm, 1 December 2020–31 January 2021
Melvita x Le Méridien Cyberport
In true French partnership, Le Méridien Cyberport’s Prompt Bistro is collaborating with organic French skincare brand Melvita for a charming afternoon tea. The set includes a serving of Le Méridien’s luscious Le Scoop raspberry sorbet as well as a gift box with Melvita organic and scented skincare products.
Price: $458/2; +$100 to upgrade to 2 house cocktails, sparkling wine or house red or white wine
When: daily, 3–5pm, 1 December 2020–28 February 2021
Whisky & chocolate afternoon tea buffet at The Astor, Eaton Hong Kong
The Astor has launched a unique buffet-style afternoon tea where chocolate and whisky take centre stage. It includes two free-flow cocktails by mixologist Axel Gonzalez of Terrible Baby, a decadent dessert spread and fun savoury items such as a glazed pork belly carvery, turkey dogs with whisky ketchup and grilled corn with bourbon.
Price: from $228/1
When: weekends and public holidays, 3:15–5:15pm, 5 December–31 January 2021
Aussie Cherry-ish Moment afternoon tea at PitStop, ALVA HOTEL
The seasonal Australian cherry is the star of the show at boutique hotel ALVA in Shatin . The hotel’s all-day-dining eatery PitStop showcases this afternoon tea set where this gloriously sweet and juicy fruit is creatively incorporated into small bites including Australian cherry with deep-fried Camembert, cherry with goose liver mousse jelly cup, Australian cherry with 70% Valrhona dark chocolate tart, cherry with chestnut vanilla cup and homemade cherry marmalade with scones.
Price: $468/2; +$38/glass of cherry and mixed berry soda or cherry Earl Grey tea; for takeaway, the set is priced at $568/2, to include a bottle of sparkling wine (purchase via the hotel’s e-shop)
When: daily, 3–5:30pm, 4 January–28 February 2021
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