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
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 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 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: $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
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, 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, 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, Hong Kong
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. In April 2020, each adult can bring one child aged 12 or below for free, with every kid receiving a complimentary mini PAPINEE toy.
Price: $318/adult and $238/child or senior citizen
When: Saturday, Sunday 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
Limited-time afternoon tea collaborations
Le Chocolatier Ivoirien by Axel Emmanuel x InterContinental Hong Kong
The InterContinental’s Lobby Lounge is on a roll with its afternoon tea collaborations in 2020 – first there was diptyque, and now comes this offering in partnership with Le Chocolatier Ivoirien by Axel Emmanuel. This afternoon tea marks the Asia debut of one of the Ivory Coast’s first ethically produced chocolates, created using natural flavours like ginger, chilli and plaintain. Emmanuel’s mission is to “think global, but act local”, and Le Chocolatier Ivoirien is made by the Coopbel Coopérative du Bélier, which employs 200 women from farming families in the Ivory Coast. InterContinental Hong Kong Executive Chef Maxime Luvara and Executive Pastry Chef Christian Gonthier have crafted a unique afternoon tea set showcasing Axel’s Fair Trade chocolate, from savoury items like braised cheek vol-au-vent with Azaguié Grand Cru beef jus and dried fruit to the oh-so-sweet passion fruit Sacher cube with Méagui dark chocolate.
When: daily (Monday–Friday, 2:30–6pm; weekends and public holidays, 1:30–6pm), 1 March–30 April 2020
Lobby, InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, TST, 2721 1211 (no bookings for afternoon tea)
Savoury afternoon tea at Palm Court, The Langham
For those (like us) who prefer savoury to sweet, you’re in luck with Palm Court’s latest limited-time afternoon tea offering. There’s only one sweet item on the menu – Palm Court’s signature mango millefeuille – otherwise it’s savoury splendour the likes of mini beef pie, mini lobster roll and Sicilian-style arancini. Don’t forget the scones, which this time come in both plain and bacon and Cheddar varieties.
Price: $398/1 or $688/2; +$120/1 for 2-hour free-flow Prosecco
When: daily (weekdays, 3–5:30pm; weekends and public holidays, 2:15–4:15pm or 4:30–6:30pm), 15 March–31 May 2020
Lobby, The Langham, Hong Kong, 8 Peking Road, TST, 2132 7898, book online
Tea WG x Guerlain
Spring has officially sprung! Singaporean luxury tea brand Tea WG has launched the Sakura Season afternoon tea set in collaboration with French beauty brand Guerlain. The range of sweet and savoury tea-infused items are inspired by Guerlain’s Cherry Blossoms collection, from duck foie gras mousse topped with a cherry compote infused with Tea WG’s Sakura! Sakura! tea to cherry blossom jelly, also made with Sakura! Sakura! tea.
Price: $488/2 (includes 2 complimentary Abeille Royale beauty kits valued at $481 each)
When: daily, 3–6pm, 20 March–24 May 2020
Central: Shop 1022–3, 1/F, ifc mall, 8 Finance Street, 2796 2828
Kowloon Tong: Shop LG2–11, LG2/F, Festival Walk, 80 Tat Chee Avenue, 2725 6930
Infini-Tea at Popinjays, The Murray, Hong Kong
This limited-time offering at The Murray’s Popinjays sees the fine-dining rooftop restaurant joining hands with American sculptor Richard X Zawitz to feature an afternoon tea set inspired by the artist’s Infinity sculpture collection and his Tangle Creations. Some of the most iconic pieces from the collection will be showcased at the restaurant during this period. New chef de cuisine Alexandre Viriot has crafted an assortment of sweet and savoury teatime treats in vivid colours to match both the flair of Popinjays and Zawitz’s world-renowned sculptures. Highlights include foie gras confit with brioche and green apple, mango and coconut cake flavoured with Grand Marnier and Valrhona Dulcey chocolate cake with sea salt caramel. Each guest will receive a Tangle plaything for some at-home therapy.
When: daily (weekdays, 2:30–4:30pm; weekends and public holidays, 3:30–5pm), 21 March–20 June 2020
26/F, The Murray, Hong Kong, 22 Cotton Tree Drive, Central, 3141 8888, book online
Forest-inspired afternoon tea at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong
Available at the hotel’s Café Causette and Clipper Lounge, the Mandarin Oriental’s latest afternoon tea offering is a partnership with EcoMatcher to help the planet by offering guests the opportunity to plant a tree. EcoMatcher works with foundations and farmers from around the world that specialise in tree planting. With a unique QR code for every tree, guests can virtually travel to their tree through satellite maps and learn about its precise location, its species and carbon sequestration and even the farmer looking after it! Executive Pastry Chef Christophe Sapy has created a beautiful forest-inspired afternoon tea to match this special green initiative, with green tea scones to boot.
Price: $338/1 on weekdays or $358/1 on weekends and public holidays (includes 1 tree); +$180/glass of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs or Ruinart Rosé
When: daily (Café Causette – 3–6pm; Clipper Lounge – weekdays, 2:30–6pm; Saturdays and public holidays, 2–4pm or 4:15–6pm; Sundays, 3:30–6pm), 1–30 April 2020
Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Road Central, Central, 2825 4000, firstname.lastname@example.org
Easter afternoon teas
The Butterfly Room, Rosewood Hong Kong
Cosy-chic The Butterfly Room at Rosewood Hong Kong celebrates Easter season with a five-course afternoon tea themed around spring – from marinated hamachi with parsley sponge cake and trout roe to freshly baked buttery scones and madeleines – plus the restaurant’s signature dessert trolleys loaded up with goodies. Before you head home, stop by Butterfly Patisserie for some Easter treats to take away; sakura and calamansi “butterfly kisses” chocolate eggs, anyone?
Price: $920/2; +$1,900/2 for 2-hour free-flow Krug Grand Cuvée
When: 2–4:15pm or 4:30–6:30pm, 10–13 April 2020
2/F, Rosewood Hong Kong, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, TST, 3891 8732, book online
Fine-dining modern Australian newcomer HUE is offering an Easter tea set that’s all about the flavours of Oz – from South Australian spanner crab doughnuts and Rangers Valley beef skewers to mini pavlovas with white chocolate ganache and passion fruit and rhubarb jam lamingtons. But what we’re really jonesing for are the hot cross buns and house-made scones, which we’ll be slathering with heaps of orange thyme marmalade, raspberry rhubarb jam and vanilla cream.
Price: $680/2; +55/mocktail; +$90/glass of Taittinger Brut Réserve
When: 3:30–5pm, 11–13 April 2020
1/F, Hong Kong Museum of Art, 10 Salisbury Road, TST, 3500 5888, book online
Children’s Easter teatime treat at Fortnum & Mason
Little ones will be hopping up and down when they feast their eyes and taste buds on this adorable Easter afternoon tea offering at Fortnum & Mason’s restaurant, 181. The kiddie plate includes chocolate mousse atop a chocolate eggshell filled with gold feuilletine and mini chocolate eggs, sugar-coated raspberry pâte de fruit, a vanilla cake lolly and a chocolate cupcake topped with a bunny-shaped biscuit. Cue the sugar high!
When: 2–5:30pm (5pm on Easter Sunday), 10–13 April 2020
Shop 022, G/F, K11 Atelier, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, TST, 3916 8181, book online
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