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
Popinjays, The Murray, Hong Kong
The Murray’s rooftop eatery Popinjays gives afternoon tea a tropical makeover. Whilst enjoying views of Central, guests can nosh on savoury delectables the likes of organic egg and caviar blinis and marinated spider crab with pineapple salsa and popcorn as well as a selection of savoury muffins. For the sweet tooth, consider blueberry macarons with lavender cream, passion fruit and milk chocolate cake and warm scones served with homemade papaya and mango jam. There’s even an option for your scones to be flambéed tableside with Cointreau Blood Orange. If you’re not in the mood for a hot pot of tea, take your pick of speciality drinks such as Fruit Dove (+$85), a blend of rosebud, hibiscus and blackcurrant tea with soda, lemon and agave to liven up the palate.
Price: $688/2; +$988/2, to include 2 glasses of Billecart-Salmon or Charles Heidsieck champers: +$150/2
When: Tuesday–Sunday, 2:30–4:30pm
Rooftop, The Murray, Hong Kong, 22 Cotton Tree Drive, Central, 3141 8888, book 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: $308/1 or $588/2 on weekdays; $328/1 or $604/2 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
Dim sum afternoon tea at SHÈ
SHÈ inside ifc mall’s Lane Crawford welcomes guests with an afternoon tea set full of Chinese flavours. Classic Chinese treats including har gow (shrimp dumplings) have been luxuriously redesigned, using beetroot-infused pink dumpling skin and prawns laced with champagne. Traditional steamed meatballs are given a decadent veneer with real truffle and three types of mushrooms mixed with Ibérico pork and bacon. On the sweet front, there’s a yin-yang-style sponge cake and buttery egg tart bites, just to name a few.
Price: $288/2 on weekdays; $328/2 on weekends and public holidays
When: daily, 3–5pm
Portion A of Shop 3025–3026 and 3031–3066, 3/F, ifc mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, 2110 0153, book online
Le Soleil, The Royal Garden Hotel Hong Kong
Vietnamese restaurant Le Soleil at The Royal Garden presents a unique Vietnamese-French afternoon tea set. You might be thinking that’s a pretty big leap, but given that Vietnam was once a French colony, the two cuisines are actually intrinsically linked. Expect fusion delights like marinated Boston lobster with fruit salsa and romaine heart and lotus root and crabmeat salad. Vietnamese-inspired drink choices such as Vietnamese coffee and honey pomelo tea are included. And just take a gander at that Eiffel Tower tea stand!
When: daily, 3–5:30pm
3/F, The Royal Garden Hotel Hong Kong, 69 Mody Road, TST East, 2733 2033, book online
High Chai at VEDA
This vegetarian (and mostly gluten-free) afternoon tea at veggie restaurant extraordinaire VEDA is a real keeper; we hope more restaurants in HK follow suit with greener teatime offerings. It’s heavy on the savoury items – which we are particularly happy about – and includes delicious bites like mini avocado toast, shiitake mushroom tart and Brazilian cheese bread (pão de queijo). The Pukka teas and coffee selection make for fine accompaniments to these lighter, healthier delights. Watch our video.
Price: $220/1 or $408/2
When: daily, 3–5:30pm
Ovolo Central, 2 Arbuthnot Road, Central, 3755 3067, book online
Spanish-inspired afternoon tea at La Rambla
La Rambla has introduced the first Spanish afternoon tea set in town. Chef Ferran Tadeo’s tapas-style delights are paired with freshly brewed loose-leaf tea from local tea company Plantation by teakha. Teas include Red Jade with Bergamot Peel and Plantation Breakfast, an interpretation of traditional breakfast tea with the unique twist of fruity red jade. Bites include the eatery’s signature avocado lobster, ham croquettes and homemade churros with salted caramel.
Price: $480/2; +$110/glass of Agustí Torelló cava; $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 Hotel Hong Kong
JW Marriott’s The Lounge has unveiled a brand-spanking-new 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 Moët & Chandon
When: daily, 3:30–6pm
Lobby, JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, 2810 8366, book online
Jiangnan-inspired afternoon tea at Old Bailey
Swish yet serene Old Bailey once again places the spotlight on traditional Jiangnan cuisine with its new daily afternoon tea offering, presenting bite-sized portions of the eatery’s signature sweets ad savouries the likes of Nanjing salted duck, both classic and spicy xiao long bao, ma lan tou with pressed bean curd, soy milk pudding, jujube paste crispy crêpes and chocolate snowy glutinous rice balls. To take this Chinese afternoon tea to the next level, complement these delectable bites with a pot of one of seven single-origin Plantation by teakha teas sourced from small tea estates in China, Taiwan and even locally in the 852.
Price: $388/2 for regular coffee or tea; $468/2 to include speciality tea by Plantation by teakha; $688/2 to include 2 glasses of Perrier-Jouët bubbly
When: daily, 2–6pm
2/F, JC Contemporary, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central, 2877 8711, book online
Japanese cheese fondue afternoon tea buffet at Eaton HK’s The Astor
The Astor has launched a unique buffet-style Japanese-inspired afternoon tea where cheese fondue (either classic cheese or Japanese matsutake with porcini and black truffle) is the centrepiece alongside a variety of dippers including fish cakes, mochi, bread, salami and veggies. Classic Japanese izakaya dishes like okonomiyaki, yakisoba, skewers, sashimi rice bowls, soba and ramen are yours for the feasting, as are more modern creations such as ebi katsu burger, mentaiko pasta and beef and Suntory pie. Wait – there’s more! There’s also a live dessert station featuring made-to-order dorayaki and soufflé pancakes and, to wash it all down, bottomless red bean matcha milk, peach yoghurt drink, Japanese tea, fruit tea, soda and more. Wowsers!
When: weekends and public holidays, 3:15–5:15pm
B1/F, Eaton HK, 380 Nathan Road, Jordan, 2710 1901, 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: $288/1 or $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
Chinese afternoon tea at Holt’s Café & Tea Conservatory, Rosewood Hong Kong
Rosewood Hong Kong’s upscale chan chaan teng Holt’s Café has launched a delectable-sounding Chinese afternoon tea set showcasing dim sum such as steamed shrimp dumplings with conpoy and coriander, steamed shrimp and pork dumplings with braised abalone, deep-fried wontons with sweet-and-sour sauce and (our personal fave) shrimp toast. Complement all his yum cha goodness with a selection of Chinese tea by the eatery’s resident tea sommelier and a trio of Chinese desserts. Perfect for a spot of tea post Hong Kong Museum of Art wandering.
When: daily, 2:30–5:30pm
2/F, Rosewood Hong Kong, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, TST, 3891 8732, book online
Limited-time afternoon tea collaborations
PAPINEE x Alibi, Cordis, Hong Kong
Luxury toy brand PAPINEE – famous for its storytelling kits – has teamed up with Alibi – Wine Dine Be Social to present four chapters of the unique Voyages of Discovery afternoon tea. First up, from 15 October, we travel to Mexico City, with Chef de Cuisine James Oakley and Pastry Chef Roy Ma crafting adorably designed Mexican-inspired sweets and savouries including paella croquette with smoked mussel aioli, Impossible taco with plant-based meat, avocado purée, tomato and coriander salsa, caramel corn mousse cake, ginger key lime tart and homemade scones with hibiscus strawberry jam and clotted cream. In the coming months, we can look forward to the next three tea chapters: Christmas in London, New Year in New York and Tokyo with Sakura. Each guest will receive one precious PAPINEE mini toy with ornament per set.
Price: $555/2 (limited to 10 sets per day)
When: daily, 3–5:30pm, from 15 October 2019 for approximately 4 months
5/F, Cordis, Hong Kong, 555 Shanghai Street, Mongkok, 3552 3028, book online
GLYCEL x Club @28, Crowne Plaza Hong Kong Causeway Bay
Rejuvenating ingredients such as bird’s nest, caviar, tofu, honey and roselle are the focus of the Nourishing Bird’s Nest and Caviar afternoon tea at rooftop bar and lounge Club @28, where sweets and savouries such as bird’s nest Portuguese egg tart, soy milk panna cotta with lemon caviar, crayfish, caviar and cream cheese croissant and pâté with raspberry crisp and bird’s nest take centre stage. Each guest will walk away with five skincare products by Swiss brand GYCEL, a voucher for a 75-minute facial treatment and a $200 cash coupon for future purchases.
Price: $468/2 (weekdays); $498/2 (weekends and public holidays)
When: daily, 2:30–5pm, 21 October 2019–2 February 2020
28/F, Crowne Plaza Hong Kong Causeway Bay, 8 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay, 3980 3300, book online
My Melody x VIVE Cake Boutique
If you’re a fan of Hello Kitty’s beloved bunny bestie, My Melody, from the Japanese Sanrio universe, you’ll be head over heels for this collaboration at VIVE, with the shop being temporarily transformed into a My Melody wonderland. The gorgeous My Melody Tea Party includes both sweets and savouries, but it’s the sweet treats in particular – from marshmallow pops, to lemon curd macarons, to apple tarts topped with My Melody butter cookies – that have our hearts aflutter.
Price: $240/1 or $480/2
When: Thursday–Sunday and public holidays, 2:30–6:30pm, 31 October 2019–31 January 2020
Shop 3, 1/F, H Queen’s, 80 Queen’s Road Central (entrance at 50 Stanley Street), Central, 9602 2869
Darphin x Gradini, The Pottinger Hong Kong
Gradini Ristorante E Bar Italiano has taken inspiration from French beauty brand Darphin to craft this pretty afternoon tea set called Glamour in Bloom. The key ingredients of chamomile and hawthorn in Darphin’s bestselling product, INTRAL Redness Relief Soothing Serum, have been utilised to create treats like chamomile honey panna cotta. The best bit? Guests will each receive a complimentary deluxe Darphin gift set, while stocks last.
When: daily, 3–5:30pm, 1 December 2019–29 February 2020
Lobby, The Pottinger Hong Kong, 72 Queen’s Road Central (entrance at 21 Stanley Street), Central, 2308 3088, email@example.com
Tokyo Milk Cheese Factory x GREEN, Hotel ICON
GREEN’s latest collaboration is a cheesy dream thanks to the Hokkaido milk and cream creations of Tokyo Milk Cheese Factory. Pastry Chef Danny Ho has designed a unique tea spread with sweet and savoury treats such as milk cheesecake, Japanese rice pudding with mango, chicken teriyaki on toast and Japanese curry hash browns. Fans of Tokyo Milk Cheese Factory’s cookies will not be disappointed and will have a chance to try the Hong Kong-exclusive yuen-yeung cookie. The tea also includes unlimited soft-serve ice cream, which comes in traditional Hokkaido Jersey milk and yuen-yeung flavours.
Price: $328/1 or $598/2
When: daily, 3–5pm or 5–7pm, 2 January–29 February 2020
Lobby, Hotel ICON, 17 Science Museum Road, TST East, 3400 1189, book online
Diptyque x InterContinental Hong Kong
If you’re a fan of the chic French fragrance house diptyque, you’ll want to book ahead for this divine collaboration. InterContinental Hong Kong’s Lobby Lounge presents the diptyque Eau Capitale & Paris en Fleur afternoon tea. The Parisian-inspired tea set is an aromatic way to welcome in the new year, not to mention a delicious one. With savoury items like Parisian ham and Comté cheese tartlet with black truffle and lobster and cocktail sauce salad with pink peppercorn pearls accompanied by sweet treats like bergamot tea macaron and Grand Marnier savarin, you’ll be starting 2020 in flavourful form. As for the scents, you’ll take in the first fragrance of diptyque’s Chypre family, Eau Capitale, an enchanting blend of rose, bergamot, patchouli and pink peppercorn, and the limited Paris en Fleur.
Price: $688/2, inclusive of 2 deluxe fragrance samples and a gift card to receive a Paris en Fleur mini scented oval when spending $850 or more at Diptyque HK shops by 31 March 2020, while supplies last
When: daily (weekdays, 2:30–6pm; weekends and public holidays, 1:30–6pm), 6 January– 29 February 2020
Lobby, InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, TST, 2721 1211
112 mountainyam x Garden Lounge, The Murray, Hong Kong
The first of Garden Lounge’s fashion afternoon tea series, the resaurant has collaborated with up-and coming local designer Mountain Yam of 112 mountainyam for this Hide and Seek afternoon tea, named after Yam’s Africa-inspired Hide and Seek collection. Sweet and savoury bites like Executive Chef Terrence Crandall’s couscous pudding caakiri verrine and chocolate cake with Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee pay homage to the continent. Signature items from the collection will be displayed, and there’s a fashion show scheduled for Wednesday, 5 February.
When: daily (2:30–4:15pm or 4:30–6:30pm), 6 January–31 March 2020
UG/F, The Murray, Hong Kong, 22 Cotton Tree Drive, Central, 3141 8888, book online
CHA LING x Kerry Hotel, Hong Kong
Lobby Lounge at Kerry Hotel has partnered with eco-friendly French skincare brand CHA LING l’Esprit du Thé (whose star products feature an extract of fermented Chinese pu’er tea) to present the Chinese-style Spirt of Pu’er afternoon tea, showcasing tea-infused treats like pu’er tea scones, pu’er marbled quail egg topped with caviar and braised Ibérico pork cheek with osmanthus, red date and pu’er tea, amongst other goodies. Each tea set comes with a CHA LING gift set, including a 7.5ml fragrance sample, a scented camelia brooch, a tin of young pu’er tea and a facial experience voucher.
When: daily (weekdays, 2:30–5:30pm; weekends and public holidays, 2–6pm), 16 January–31 March 2020
Lobby, Kerry Hotel, Hong Kong, 38 Hung Luen Road, Hung Hom Bay, Kowloon, 2252 5237, book online
For more awesome guides like this, like Foodie on Facebook