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Delight in the tradition of tea in Asia’s most luxe hotels from premium matcha in Tokyo to English tea sipped in Thailand
Few things are more delightful, delicious and decadent than an afternoon tea for two served in a beautiful place with fine china and silver platters. This ever-so-English afternoon ritual has been adopted across the Far East, from Thailand to Taipei, where several high-end hotels and resorts are offering patrons the chance to savor this traditional tea in Asia firsthand. Here, we glean into eight iconic spots where you can spend a few hours of cool, quality time to escape the tropical heat of Asia over a memorable tea for two.
Raffles Hotel Le Royal
RAFFLES HOTEL LE ROYAL
Built in the 1920s when French colonists were infusing their own culinary twists to Indochina, Hotel Le Royal continues to capture the nostalgia of a bygone era. “Raffles stands for all the fables of the exotic East,” penned the famous English playwright, Somerset Maugham. And it still does. Located in the heart of Phnom Penh, the hotel serves up a titillating afternoon tea in Asia that combines sweet delights, among them are the mango tartlets, chocolate mousses, vanilla mille-feuilles, savory salmon sandwiches and fresh scones. And, of course, they are all washed down with lashings of premium tea served in fine Chinaware. Patrons may choose to sip tea in the conservatory, amongst the wicker chairs and leather sofas of the famous Elephant Bar, or quite simply under the shade of a raintree in the tropical gardens by the pool.
Expect to savor cakes infused with organic Japanese teas, like their green tea roasted rice panna cotta, roasted green tea lamington cake, matcha tiramisu and whole-leaf green tea crème brûlée.
Palace Hotel Tokyo
PALACE HOTEL TOKYO
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. Their premium matcha tea preparation steals a page from how the Japanese used to prepare tea for
the shoguns, or rulers of the country. Expect to savor cakes infused with organic Japanese teas, like their green tea roasted rice panna cotta, roasted green tea lamington cake, matcha tiramisu and whole-leaf green tea crème brûlée are all artfully presented in a three-tier Jyubako lacquer box. Sweets are inspired by fruits and Japanese confectionary that is typically served with green tea and balanced by savories such as a matcha steamed bread sandwich with a shrimp and cream cheese filling, and yuzu-marinated salmon. The miso-flavored scones add another contemporary note to the decadent tea party.
Whether served in your villa by your own personal butler as you lounge alongside your private infinity pool, or from an overlook at the hotel’s restaurant perched above the sapphire seas of the Siamese Gulf—an afternoon tea at Thailand’s Banyan Tree Samui is a rare treat.
Banyan Tree Samui
BANYAN TREE SAMUI
Whether served in your villa by your own personal butler as you lounge alongside your private infinity pool, or from an overlook at the hotel’s restaurant perched above the sapphire seas of the Siamese Gulf—an afternoon tea at Thailand’s Banyan Tree Samui is 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, comprised of a mango-flavored Disneyesque display of eclairs, tarts, mousse, cheesecake, macarons and more.
THE ANAM CAM RANH
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. Tea is served on an outdoor terrace, The Colonial, that basks in more than 300 days of sunshine a year. The Anam’s High Tea Colonial experience features English and raisin scones with jam and clotted cream, complemented with Bailey’s cheesecake, coconut tarts and macarons. Savory offerings include ham and cheese sandwiches, grilled pork belly with mustard seed sauce and mini ciabatta and a caprese burger. This Asian tea time is served daily.
The Anam Cam Ranh
Each day, the villa guests are served an exquisite selection of local teas and treats in their private villa by staff wearing ao dai—the nation’s national costume. The repast is transported in bamboo baskets balanced on a ganh, a time-honored method of carrying goods and food in Vietnam that is still used by many street vendors today.
Banyan Tree Lang Co.
BANYAN TREE LANG CO
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 distinctly Vietnamese atmosphere. This reverence for tradition is to the fore when it comes to afternoon tea. Each day, the villa guests are served an exquisite selection of local teas and treats in their private villa by staff wearing ao dai—the nation’s national costume. The repast is transported in bamboo baskets balanced on a ganh, a time-honored method of carrying goods and food in Vietnam that is still used by many street vendors today. Paired with a tasty spread that is complimentary for residents of the resort, this tea experience is served daily at 3:00pm and features your choice of premium teas and local snacks such as nem lui (pork on lemongrass skewers) and banh ngot (sweet cakes).
Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
SOFITEL LEGEND METROPOLE HANOI
Besides bearing some of the most glamorous wellness spas around the country, Vietnam has a blossoming culinary scene with high-end experiences for well-heeled travelers. Afternoon tea at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi takes place in Le Club Bar, a bright, airy venue with a timeless feel overlooking the hotel’s beautiful garden courtyard. Guests can enjoy a newly introduced selection of traditional sandwiches, oven-fresh scones, scrumptious patisseries and signature madeleines. In addition, there is an expanded selection of teas sourced from around the world, ranging from a bold Assam tea from India, to a delicate green tea from China as well as locally-produced Vietnamese teas and plenty of others. Indulge in the traditional afternoon tea or try out their signature Chocolate Library, available daily.
Sukhumvit Gallery, a new photo gallery in one of Bangkok’s most culturally diverse areas, is giving guests a glimpse into a previous era with this permanent exhibition on the history of Bangkok’s most important boulevard of Sukhumvit.
Hyatt Regency Bangkok
HYATT REGENCY BANGKOK
We named Bangkok an ICONIC CITY for its fine-dining, cultural hot spots and energizing and chaotic streets that pull you right in to a world all its own. And we found another angle of intrigue here at one of the newest additions to their skyline. Sukhumvit Gallery, a new photo gallery in one of Bangkok’s most culturally diverse areas, is giving guests a glimpse into a previous era with this permanent exhibition on the history of Bangkok’s most important boulevard of Sukhumvit. The visual feast doesn’t end with these images, because the Hyatt Regency Bangkok, where the gallery is located, is serving up afternoon tea within the space and was inspired by the images on display. The renowned Thai florist, Sakul Inthakul, is behind this stunning plating. The Ekamai pedestrian bridge on Sukhumvit Soi 63 was Inthakul’s muse for the serving platter, which is a handcrafted sculpture made from stainless steel with copper plating and artificial marble that is decorated with local flowers. More than a dozen bite-sized treats, both sweet and savory, flank the bridge-turned-plate. These include homemade desserts, like the 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 the Thai province of Tak, which has a reputation as one of the country’s best coffees. The delicious tea comes from the village of Mae Sai in Chiang Mai, where tea has been grown for more than a century. The Sukhumvit Gallery Afternoon Tea is served daily.
The Grand Hyatt Taipei
THE GRAND HYATT TAIPEI
Make sure to show up hungry if you’re planning a visit to the Grand Hyatt Taipei’s afternoon tea buffet at their 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 more than 280 guests and consists of 10 international food stations covering cuisine from Japan to India. Highlights include a sushi and seafood bar, salad bar, fresh juice bar, as well as Chinese and Western delicacies and a dessert station filled with cakes and pastries, an ice cream bar, and even a flowing matcha chocolate fountain. Served daily.