Tradition with a twist: 8 of Asia’s best afternoon teas
Few things are more delightful, delicious and decadent than an afternoon tea for two served with fine china and silver platters. This ever-so-English of daytime treats has been adopted across Asia in several high-end hotels and resorts, offering guests the chance to savour a few hours of cool quality time in the middle of a hot tropical day.
Raffles Hotel Le Royal, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Built in the 1920s when French colonists were adding their own culinary twists to Indochina, Le Royal continues to capture the nostalgia of a bygone era. “Raffles stands for all the fables of the exotic East,” penned Somerset Maugham. And it still does.
Located in the heart of Phnom Penh, Raffles Hotel Le Royal serves up a titillating afternoon tea combining sweet delights, such as mango tartlets, chocolate mousses and vanilla mille-feuilles with savoury salmon sandwiches and fresh scones, all washed down with lashings of premium tea in fine Chinaware.
Patrons may choose to sup tea in the conservatory, or among the wicker chairs and leather sofas of the famous Elephant Bar, or quite simply under the shade of a raintree in a tropical garden by the pool.
Priced at just USD15 per set.
Palace Hotel Tokyo, Japan
To mark autumn, The Palace Lounge at Palace Hotel Tokyo has joined forces with 160-year-old tea purveyor Maruyama Nori to unveil a special Jugetsudo afternoon tea presentation. The premium matcha tea’s preparation steals a page from how the Japanese used to prepare tea for shoguns.
Cakes infused with organic Japanese teas, including green tea with roasted rice panna cotta, roasted green tea lamington cake, matcha tiramisu and whole-leaf green tea crème brulée, are artfully presented in a three-tier Jyubako lacquer box.
Sweets are inspired by fruits and Japanese confectionery typically served with green tea, and balanced by savouries such as matcha steamed bread sandwich with a shrimp and cream cheese filling, and yuzu-marinated salmon. The miso-flavoured scones add another contemporary note.
Available until November 30, 2019, and priced at JPY 4,800 per person | JPY 6500 with a glass of champagne.
Banyan Tree Lang Co, Central Vietnam
Few resorts in Vietnam pay heed to the nation’s unique heritage quite as rigorously as Banyan Tree Lang Co. Known for its phong thuy (feng shui), the traditional architecture of its villas and its stunning location sandwiched between the mountains and the East Sea, the resort exudes a very Vietnamese atmosphere.
This reverence for tradition is to the fore when it comes to afternoon tea. Every day, villa guests are served an exquisite selection of local teas and treats in their villa by staff wearing ao dai — the nation’s national costume. The repast is transported in bamboo baskets balanced on a ganh, a time-honoured method of carrying goods and food in Vietnam that is still used by many street vendors.
The spread, which is complimentary for residents of the resort and is served daily at 3pm, features a choice of premium teas and local snacks such as nem lui (pork on lemongrass skewers) and banh ngot (sweet cakes).
Hyatt Regency Bangkok, Thailand
Sukhumvit Gallery, a new photo gallery in one of Bangkok’s most culturally diverse areas, is giving guests a glimpse into another era with a permanent exhibition on the history of Bangkok’s most important boulevard – Sukhumvit.
The visual feast doesn’t end with the images and Hyatt Regency Bangkok, where the gallery is located, is serving up afternoon tea within the space that is inspired by the images on display. Renowned Thai floral artist, Sakul Inthakul, is behind the plating.
The Ekamai pedestrian bridge on Sukhumvit Soi 63 was Inthakul’s muse for the serving platter; a handcrafted sculpture of stainless steel, copper plating and artificial marble, that is decorated with local flowers. More than a dozen bite-sized treats, both sweet and savoury, flank the bridge-cum-plate.
These include homemade desserts, like mini sweet potato scones and homemade macarons with pomelo custard filling, created by the Hyatt’s culinary team. The coffee is from the plantations at Le Tor Gol Village, in Tak province, which has a reputation as one of the country’s best coffees. The tea comes from the village of Mae Sai in Chiang Mai, where tea has grown naturally for over a century.
The Sukhumvit Gallery Afternoon Tea is served daily between 2pm – 4pm, at 950++ Thai Baht / set for two persons.
Banyan Tree Samui, Thailand
Whether served in your villa by your own personal butler, perhaps as you lounge alongside your private infinity pool, or from a vantage point in the restaurant overlooking the sapphire seas of the Siamese Gulf, an afternoon tea at Banyan Tree Samui is something of a rare treat.
You may opt for a refined English tea set, replete with porcelain pots of Earl Grey, fresh scones and clotted cream. Or why not try the locally inspired Mango Paradise Tea Set – a mango-flavored disneyland of eclairs, tarts, mousse, cheesecake, macarons, and more.
USD30- 35 per set.
The Grand Hyatt Taipei, Taiwan
Make sure to go very hungry if you’re planning a visit to the Grand Hyatt Taipei‘s afternoon tea buffet at Café. Designed to resemble a high-end marketplace and overlooking the tranquil gardens of a nearby park, Asia’s most ambitious afternoon tea buffet seats over 280 guests and consists of 10 international food stations covering cuisine from Japan to India.
Highlights include a sushi and seafood bar, a salad bar, a fresh juice bar, Chinese as well as Western delicacies, and a dessert station filled with cheese, cakes and pastries, an ice cream bar, and a matcha chocolate fountain.
Served daily from 3-5pm. Prices start at NT$880 per adult and NT$440 per child (aged 5-12) on weekdays.
Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, Vietnam
Afternoon tea at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi is now a languorous affair in Le Club Bar, a bright, airy venue with a timeless feel overlooking the hotel’s garden courtyard.
It features an all-new selection of traditional sandwiches, oven-fresh scones, scrumptious patisseries and signature madeleines, in addition to an expanded menu of teas from around the world, ranging from bold Assam tea from India to delicate green tea from China, locally produced Vietnamese teas and more.
Indulge in the traditional afternoon tea for VN690,000++ (USD 30) or the signature Chocolate Library, available daily between 3pm and 5:30pm, for VND600,000++ (USD 26).
The Anam Cam Ranh, Vietnam
In stark contrast to the often-dreary weather in Britain where the pastime of afternoon tea began, the service at The Anam is a sunny affair, served on The Colonial’s outdoor terrace that basks in more than 300 days of sunshine a year.
The Anam’s “High Tea Colonial” afternoon tea features English and raisin scones with jam and clotted cream, complemented with Bailey’s cheesecake, coconut tart and macaron. Savoury offerings include a ham and cheese sandwich, grilled pork belly with mustard seed sauce and mini ciabatta and a caprese burger.
Served daily from 3pm-5 pm. USD 15++ per person.