Header image: savoury afternoon tea at OZONE
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
Soil to Soul’s Beyond Vegan afternoon tea
Chef Gu Jin Kwang of contemporary Korean vegetarian restaurant Soil to Soul has designed a seasonal vegan afternoon tea set, inspired by ancient temple cuisine. Delicate, health-conscious sweet and savoury bites alongside Korean herbal tea are on the unique set menu, unlike any other afternoon tea in Hong Kong. The latest iteration of this menu – Beyond Vegan – Autumn – includes items such as rice roll with Korean pickled veg, kimbap, mochi, traditional Korean doughnuts (so addictively chewy!) and fruit jelly. Each set includes a complimentary Bio Seaweed Gel vegan nail polish courtesy of vegan nail brand The Green Beauty Lab, plus a voucher for redeeming additional nail products online.
Price: $498/2 (only 10 sets available each day); +$48/plant-based mocktail
When: daily, 3:30–5:30pm
Afternoon Indulgence at The Peninsula Boutique & Café
The Peninsula’s classic afternoon tea set is timeless, but we now have a brand-new and more contemporary way to experience afternoon tea by the famed luxury hotel. The Peninsula Boutique & Café is a sleek addition to The Peninsula Arcade, with the star of the culinary show here being the Afternoon Indulgence tea set, which includes scones, macarons, 3-D ganache-filled chocolate and Hokkaido milk soft-serve ice cream, in addition to four each savoury and four sweet treats.
When: daily, 1:30–6 pm
The Peninsula Arcade, Salisbury Road, TST, 2696 6969 (walk-ins only)
The Commune, K11 ARTUS
Tea by the Harbour at The Commune at luxury service residence K11 ARTUS – or, as they describe it: Asia’s first “artisanal home” – is one of the newest afternoon teas around town that we can’t stop recommending. The set showcases tasters of signature items from The Commune’s à-la-carte East-meets-West menu (on our visit, we loved the Asian hamachi ceviche ball and Japanese pork belly bao), as well as special sweet extras such as pandan crème brûlée and pineapple bun choux, freshly baked scones with all the accompaniments (including some lovely tea-infused homemade fruit jam), Alain Milliat juices and teas courtesy of local brand TeaCha.
Price: $780/2; +$280/2 signature cocktails; +$390/bottle of Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut NV
When: daily, 3–5:30pm
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 might 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: $399/1 or $798/2; +$78 glass of Prosecco; +$98/glass of Moscato d’Asti; +$188/glass of Delamotte champagne
When: daily (weekdays 1–6pm; weekends and public holidays, 12–7pm)
G Room’s Wanderlusting afternoon tea
Immersive East-meet-West tapas bar and lounge G Room (we love the 360-degree scenes showcasing a variety of vistas) has launched an afternoon tea set that’s true to its ethos, taking us on journey to Spain with an array of sweet and savoury flavours. Highlights include a platter of Siberian sturgeon caviar and 36 months Ibérico ham, Spanish shrimp toast with marinated mini chicken drumsticks, black truffle cheesecake and lemon custard cake, ending with a bang with a homemade waffle served with seasonal fresh fruits.
Price: $298/person (2-person minimum); +$38/glass of red or white sangria; +$78/$488 for glass/bottle of Prosecco; +$158/$788 for glass/bottle of champagne
When: daily, 3–6pm
Five Elements savoury afternoon tea at OZONE, The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong
An “elevated” experience on the 118th floor of the International Commerce Centre, inspired by the bar’s Five Elements-themed cocktail menu. The Five Elements savoury afternoon tea highlights five bite-sized savoury treats, including OZONE’s signature mini mushroom Wagyu burger. This is a particularly good choice if you generally find afternoon teas too sweet.
Price: $298/1 (2-person minimum), including a Five Elements cocktail or Lyre’s mocktail
When: Thursday–Sunday, 3–6pm
Al-fresco dining overlooking picturesque Repulse Bay, The Verandah gives traditional afternoon tea a modern transformation. The Verandah chefs have created savoury delights like a decadent black truffle scrambled egg tartlet that’s in homage to the classic egg sandwich. Bayonne ham dust and Parmesan mousse on dark rye bread replace the traditional ham and cheese sarnie. For sweets, expect goodies such as dark chocolate glazed madeleines, coconut marshmallow twists and matcha and hazelnut choux pastry alongside cold-brewed fruit tea (+$28) 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 cinnamon-almond black tea and Alphonso mango tea.
Price: $348/1 or $648/2 on weekdays; $368/1 or $688/2 on weekends and public holidays; +$40/glass of freshly squeezed juice; from +$158/glass of champagne
When: daily, 3–5:30pm
JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong
JW Marriott’s The Lounge offers an elegant East-meets-West afternoon tea set. The savouries might 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 set.
For an all-you-can-eat afternoon tea experience, you can instead opt for the the afternoon tea buffet showcasing an indulgent spread of both English and Cantonese sweets and savouries.
Price: for afternoon tea set, $298/1 or $538/2 on weekdays and $338/1 or $558/2 on weekends and public holidays (+$100/person for glass of champagne); for afternoon tea buffet, $308/adult and $218/child on weekdays and $388/adult and $278/child on weekends and public holidays
When: daily, 3:30–6pm
Miss Lee’s vegan afternoon tea
Modern Chinese vegetarian eatery Miss Lee is offering an all-vegan afternoon tea set at a great price. The elegantly presented platter might include plant-based delights such as beetroot tart, potato croquette, pumpkin pancake and fried sweetcorn cake. It’s time to get our veg on!
Price: $138/1 (2-person minimum)
When: daily, 3–5:30pm
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 macarons, financiers and cream puffs.
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: $498/2; +$98/2 glasses of Perrier-Jouët
When: daily, 3–5:30pm
Japanese & Korean afternoon tea buffet at The Place, Cordis, Hong Kong
Cordis hotel’s stylish, spacious buffet restaurant The Place has transformed its teatime buffet with live cooking stations themed around Japanese and Korean delicacies including robatayaki, okonomiyaki, takoyaki and Korean street snacks such as cheese corn dogs and kimchi fried chicken. The desserts change with the seasons, and the price includes a special drink (strawberry sparkling wine, strawberry chocolate milk or Korean honey yuzu tea) on the house, plus free-flow OJ, fruit tea, coffee and regular tea.
Price: $348/adult; $258/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 and sesame fritters, Cheddar and spring onion croquettes, chocolate-hazelnut lollies and almond cookie sandwiches. We’re particularly jonesing for the homemade scones, which we’ll be spreading with heaps of orange-thyme marmalade, rhubarb jam and vanilla cream. The extensive mocktail selection also gets a thumbs up.
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: $195/1; +$40 to upgrade to speciality coffee
When: daily (weekdays, 3–5:30pm; weekends and public holidays, 4–5:30pm)
Thai-inspired afternoon tea at Mango Tree ELEMENTS
Afternoon tea with a Thai flair comes to Mango Tree’s ELEMENTS outlet. There are both sweets (such as sticky rice with mango and pandan layer cake) and savouries (like yellow seafood curry in mini crispy bread and green mango salad with abalone) up for grabs, as well as special drinks including Thai sangria and iced matcha latte with grass jelly, in the set.
Note that the other two HK branches of Mango Tree, at Cityplaza and YOHO MALL, also offer afternoon tea options, but their menus differ from ELEMENTS. Please click on the above links for more details.
Price: $388/2, to include 2 special drinks
When: daily, 3–5:30pm
Cityplaza: Shop 314, 3/F, Cityplaza, 18 Taikoo Shing Road, Taikoo Shing, 2577 0699
ELEMENTS: Shop 2032, 2/F, ELEMENTS, 1 Austin Road West, TST, 2668 4884
YOHO: Shop 1035, 1/F, YOHO MALL I, 9 Long Yat Road, Yuen Long, 2602 2878
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 The King of France (foie gras mousse, fig chutney), Flavours of Japan (poached scallop, homemade blini, cream, yuzu pearl, pink peppercorn, lime, baby shiso), Dark Heaven (salted carmel, chocolate cream) and The Rose Ring (lychee panna cotta, rose jelly, coconut cream). The craft tea is by local company PLANTATION by teakha.
Price: $468/1 or $768/2; +$48 for each additional food item; +$148 for champagne cocktail; from +$230 for glass of champagne
When: daily, 2:30–5:30pm
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
When: daily, 3–5:30pm
KiKi Noodle Bar
What a great-value tea set! KiKi Noodle Bar has launched the Light and Delight afternoon tea menu, featuring a choice of one of six Taiwanese foodie faves such as braised pork chop, popcorn chicken with black truffle aioli and mini dan dan noodles. A big glass of winter melon or peach oolong tea comes with the set, and a dessert of grass jelly with brown sugar pearls can be added for just $10.Price: $48/1When: weekdays, 3–6pm
ifc mall: Shop 2017, 2/F, ifc mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, 2114 3426
K11 MUSEA: Shop 406, 4/F, K11 MUSEA, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, TST, 2111 3764
Tiffany afternoon tea at The Tiffany Blue Box Cafe
Blue Box Cafe’s afternoon tea set features decadent sweets and savouries, from salmon gravlax and foie gras crème brûlée to the gorgeous Tiffany bird’s nest, showcasing a nest made of kataifi and, nestled within, caramel eggs in the brand’s signature robin’s egg blue. Iconic!
Price: $688/2; +$88/Tiffany Blue cocktail; +$150/glass of Perrier-Jouët
When: daily, 2–6:45pm
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