With its strong tea drinking culture and British past, Hong Kong knows a few things about afternoon tea, that glorious late day mini-feast of sweet and savory treats which, though named for a drink, is as much about the food. Here are four of the best afternoon tea services in the city, including some seasonal specials, too.
For a taste of old British Hong Kong, take tea in the palm tree-filled neo-classical lobby of the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel, and Hong Kong’s oldest one, too. As you embrace your elegant surroundings and sip your tea, nosh on finger sandwiches filled with delectable fillings such as smoked salmon, chicken salad or cucumber, or buttery scones topped with strawberry jam and Devonshire clotted cream. Be sure to enjoy the soothing live classical music courtesy of The Lobby Strings as well — the quartet plays every afternoon from 2 to 6:30 p.m. (except Mondays).
Master French chocolatier Jean-Paul Hévin’s tea room in the city’s Central area serves Mariage and Dammann Frères teas, but the drink Hévin is most known for, of course, is hot chocolate, made-to-order from single origin cocoas. Seasonal afternoon tea sets are offered in the sleek salon (outfitted in shades of chocolate brown, naturally), or you can order à la carte from a decadent selection of chocolate cakes, macarons and bonbons.
If you’re touring Lantau Island on a Saturday or Sunday, descend from the Big Buddha attraction to the picturesque fishing village of Tai O for tea at the charming Tai O Heritage Hotel, where local delicacies from village food shops are showcased. Under the glass roof of the elegant Tai O Lookout restaurant affording panoramic views of the South China Sea, you’ll enjoy savories such as steamed rice dumplings and minced pork rolls with shrimp paste, as well as confections such as tofu custard, and egg waffles — a classic Hong Kong treat — served with ice cream. A helpful map pointing out the location of the village food shops where the treats came from is printed for your perusal, too.
Finally, if jewel-like pastries aren’t enough, arrange to enjoy afternoon tea at the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel, which comes with actual jewelry: A trunk full of Graff Diamonds and gemstone baubles are yours to try on while digging into a spread inspired by the jewels such as hazelnut nougat iced gold or 2002 Dom Pérignon champagne gelée, as well as caviar and foie gras. Also included, a bottle of 2004 Louis Roederer Cristal Brut and a half bottle of 1998 Château d’Yquem Sauternes, plus actual tea, of course, served in Vera Wang china. Priced at HK$10,880 (about $1,400 US) for two, it may also be the world’s most expensive tea, but then again, this is also the world’s highest hotel (occupying floors 102 to 118), so superlatives come with the territory.
Photos Courtesy of Jean Paul Hevin-Landmark Mandarin Oriental