TAIPEI, Taiwan — All the tea in China isn’t necessarily drunk in China. Nor is all the high tea consumed in England. This spring, hotels from Bangkok to Tokyo are reaching for new heights with new high tea specials that drink in great views, exalt chocolate, invoke gay Paree and look stunning in lacquer.
“As high-falutin’ and old-fashioned as high tea sounds, it’s still a major part of our day, every day,” said Sammy Carolus, general manager of the Grand Hyatt Taipei. “People used to talk about the power lunch. Today we’re talking about the power tea. Increasingly it’s how guests are beginning to explore a particular destination’s culinary appeal.”
In Taipei, the deliciously over-the-top afternoon tea buffet takes place at the Grand Hyatt Taipei’s Café restaurant. Designed to resemble a gourmet marketplace, this is possibly the most high-powered high tea experience in Asia, with more than 10 live cooking stations, 120 different international delicacies, and 280 seats for guests. Highlights include a sushi and seafood bar, a salad bar, a fresh juice bar, Chinese, Indian as well as Western fare, and a dessert station filled with cheese, all-you-can-eat cakes and pastries, and a matcha chocolate fountain to top it off. Served daily from 3 to 5 p.m. USD 30++ per person.
In Tokyo, the ever-popular high tea service at Palace Lounge, Palace Hotel Tokyo’s cozy bar and restaurant, marries seasonal selections with premium teas, specialty coffees, and champagne. With sweeping views of the surrounding Imperial Palace gardens and moat, this high tea adds a seasonal twist with pastries and sweets inspired by spring. Treats featured in the spring tea set include mini bacon and onion quiche, Japanese rice balls with green leaves, and freshly baked scones — all artfully presented in an elegant, three-tiered jyubako lacquered box. Available until May 31. JPY 4,000 (USD 36) per person, JPY 5,800 (USD 52) with a glass of champagne.
In Bangkok, and in particular at Le Macaron, Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit’s gourmet, Parisian-style cafe, a taste of afternoon tea tradition is served up daily from 2 to 5 p.m. Treats include homemade French pâtisserie — from green teacakes to scones with jam and vanilla whipped cream — and all manner of teas. The Classic Afternoon Tea costs USD 27, while the decadent Champagne Afternoon Tea is priced at USD 46, including tax and service charges.
In Hanoi, the high tea takes place at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi’s recently revamped Le Club, a Roaring Twenties speakeasy-style bar, built on top of a wartime air-raid shelter. Here guests can choose between a traditional afternoon tea, a delectable three-tiered spread of re-invented French classics, or a lavish chocolate buffet featuring pralines, ganache, mille-feuille pastries, and a chocolate fountain — while listening to the sweet sounds of live jazz. Indulge in a High Tea for VN460++ (USD 20) or the signature Chocolate Library for VND595++ (USD 26).
On Indonesia’s Bintan Island near Singapore, The Sanchaya serves up afternoon tea on a veranda overlooking powder white sands and aquamarine waters dotted with picturesque islands. Savory treats from the Classic English, Southeast Asian and Artisanal-themed afternoon teas include roasted beef with beetroot and horseradish relish, ‘tahu isi’ stuffed local tofu with mixed vegetables, and lobster ceviche on crostini respectively, topped off with sweets such as fresh berries with vanilla custard, fried ice cream in bread and spring roll skin and creamy dragon fruit tartlet. Anchored by The Sanchaya’s customized Ronnefeldt tea range, afternoon tea for two costs USD 46++.
And in Colombo, afternoon tea at one of the oldest hotels east of the Suez pays homage to the Ceylonese past. Amid the Verandah’s colonial al fresco setting at The Galle Face Hotel, traditional English afternoon tea is underscored by fine Ceylon teas. Finger sandwiches, smoked salmon on rye and savory pastries are followed by dainty Nuwara Eliya strawberry shortbread, passion fruit and date cake, opera slice and papaya, lime and ginger tart desserts. The freshly baked scones stake a claim to Sri Lanka’s best, and are served with homemade jams and real clotted cream. USD10++ per person.