I think it was because of Downton Abbey that I was obsessed with having proper tea. I used to call it high tea but a friend in Hong Kong who spent her childhood in the United Kingdom declared:”It’s not high tea! It’s just afternoon tea!”. And it turns out I’m quite partial to them as evidenced by my Facebook posts reproduced below:
Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong
This was originally posted on May 17, 2013.
High Tea Set. My caption”Minsan sa buhay, may mga karanasan na dapat mong namnamin. Huwag mong isipin kung ano ang halaga o ano ang kapalit. Ang maranasan mo lang ito ang mahalaga. Bahala na ang bukas, mas mahalaga ang ngayon(Sometimes in life, there are experiences that you should relish. Don’t think about how much it costs or what you should give in return. The experience is the important thing. Don’t worry about tomorrow, today is more precious)”
This was my first foray into five-star dining. I was told that afternoon tea at The Pen is a must for a visitor in Hong Kong. So instead of going sightseeing, I put on the clothes I brought for the occasion – a short-sleeved barong-inspired shirt and khaki pants with brown leather shoes, which I took the time to polish.
On entering the fabulous lobby with its checkered floor, I was told that the queue for the afternoon tea was behind the wall. To be precise, it snaked behind the wall and past the shops for Cartier, Ralph Lauren, and Louis Vuitton. The queue was long because it was a holiday, and apparently, families and friends meet up for afternoon tea on such days. My shirt received curious looks from the ladies.
After more than an hour, I was finally seated on a table good for four. Families and groups gave me cursory glances as I consumed the delicious pastries and chugged the tea. Service was fantastic – it was like being served by ninjas. One time, I was concentrating on putting jam on my scone and when I looked up, the empty saucers and cups were gone and my water glass was refilled.
The Pen has been my standard ever since.
The Peninsula Hotel Manila
This was originally posted on January 16, 2016.
High Tea Set with Bourbon Vanilla Tea. My caption: “Tsaa sa hapon kasama ang mga Tita ng Maynila(Afternoon tea with the Aunts of Manila) ”
It was an afternoon of catching up with friends whom I haven’t seen in a long time and both of them love tea and pastries. Okay, we like playing tea party.
Conrad Hotel Manila
This was originally posted on January 8, 2017
My caption:” Afternoon Tea Set: Unique(Sweet: Semolina cremeux with spiced oranges, Mango-white chocolate soup in a taste tube, Organic Felchlin chocolate, Walnut and green tea scones with clotted cream and jam. Savoury: Sustainable tuna “sisig style”, Ceviche of lapu-lapu, Mango-coriander dip, Watermelon and Serrano ham, Beetroot, blueberries and pistachio, Rolled finger sandwiches(filled with cheese and authentic prosciutto).
The tea chest, with drawers keeping the sandwiches and scones, makes being a host/ess very effortless.
All paired with Citron Green Tea.”
It was an afternoon with a friend. The skies were cloudy but we still decided to have our tea on the couches on the balcony of the hotel’s C Lounge. We just talked and ate through the set because we did not have lunch. After eating through the first set, we were still hungry so we ordered the “The Traditional Afternoon Tea Set(or shall I say “Chest”). Sweet: Felchlin chocolate praline, Pavé espuma, Opera cake, Ube macaroon with paint, Eclair vanilla, Nuts tartelettes, Scones with clotted cream, lemon curd and jam. Savory: Finger sandwiches, cucumber, salmon, cream cheese, and Serrano ham. Paired with White Vanilla Grapefruit Tea”
We had a hard time finishing the second set so we stayed on. We had time to kill. By the time we ate the last finger sandwich, the famed Manila Bay sunset was upon us. We decided to have cocktails and watch the skies turn to hues of purple and gold.
Shangri-la at The Fort, Manila
This was originally posted on July 10, 2016.
My caption: “Glass of Blood(Havana Club 7 years rum, Massenez blackberry liqueur, Dolin rouge vermouth, cranberry, cherry bitters) – one of the many signature drinks of the newly opened High Street Lounge, Shangri-la at The Fort. In the background is the High Tea Selection, featuring scrambled eggs with caviar.”
I had just attended a christening in which I was a godfather of the baby. After the reception, I decided to drop by the latest Shangri-La hotel in the Philippines(three in Manila, one in Boracay, and one in Cebu – all five are included in the top ten hotels in the country). I hitched a short ride in a co-worker’s car with four other people.
As they were dropping me off, all of them decided to have a look as well and make inquiries about accommodations. While I was taking note of the understated and zen-inspired interiors of the lobby, my companions caught up with me and started following me around. “Aren’t you guys supposed to be going somewhere else?” I asked as I headed towards the High Street Lounge. “Nah, we’ll just have a look around as well”.
At the lounge, they decided to sit with me as I ordered my cocktail. My original plan was to have a drink by myself. The food attendant informed us that they were having a promotional rate for their afternoon tea selections. My companions decided to order a set. I ended up drinking alcohol and having tea at the same time.
The Ritz-Carlton, Budapest
This was originally posted on March 16, 2017.
“Afternoon Tea Selection of the Ritz-Carlton(Royal Ocoa Chocolate Cake, Framboise Cake, Hungarian Poppy Seed Macaroon, Apricot Macaroon, Caramel Cupcake, Lemon Merengue Tart, Smoked Salmon Croissant, Cucumber Cream Cheese, Foie Gras Mousse and Dry Fruit Chutney) plus an assorted selection of Chinese tea, of which the experts in the tea party greatly approve.”
My classmates in a master’s program I was taking at the time , well the ladies – two Chinese, one German, and an American, decided to have afternoon tea as a means to bond and hang-out. We invited the guys but they declined. One said to me it was too girly. The conversation was mostly about how hard it is to be a woman working in a lawfirm. I mostly kept mum and sipped my tea.
The lobby lounge was fabulous and the guy serving us, whom the girls thought was very cute, was very knowledgeable about the tea. The Chinese girls were impressed. There was a lot of giggling and we did not care because we were the only ones there.
The Ritz Madrid
This was originally posted on January 3, 2018.
Afternoon Tea Set with Strawberry Preserves and (proper) Clotted Cream paired with Golden Ritz 50 years Pu-Erh Red Tea
Yes, I am having tea at the Ritz Madrid at the moment. Of course, I’m bragging about it! Also, in hommage to Mariah Carey, I’ve got to have a sip of tea otherwise it would be a disaster.
I brought a coat, dress pants, a long-sleeved shirt, leather shoes, and a tie for this purpose. I was a tad overdressed (later on took off the tie) but I did get very fast and attentive service even though I had no reservation. The locals also dressed for their tea and the tourists stood out in their casual wear. I made the effort to dress appropriately as a sign of respect for one of the three “real” Ritz Hotels in the world.
“We’ll, set up a table for you right away!” exclaimed the maitre’d. There is indeed power in appropriate dressing.
I also channeled my inner Meryl Streep to act very casually in an elegant setting. Show a hint of hesitation or a flicker of fear and the facade is broken. Strain too much and you’ll be revealed as coarse.
As a practiced social climber, I did not ask how much everything was but drew my confidence from the knowledge that my two credit cards will answer for everything. It also helped me give my order with conviction. Live in the now, it has been said.
Service is very efficient and unintrusive. One flicker of your hand and a member of the staff will appear beside you. Even if you are just staring into space, any one of them will check if you’re alright or need anything.
Someone’s playing on the piano, so I’ll just soak in the ambiance for a while.
Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon
This was originally posted on January 8, 2018.
Lisbon Afternoon Tea Set(Macaron with Spices, Pastel de Nata(Portuguese egg custard tart), Queljada de Sintra(fresh cheese and almond Tartelette), Pastel de Feijäo(Bean Tartelette), Almond and Blueberry Tartelette, with Strawberry Jam and Mascarpone with Lime on the side.
The tea is Gorreana Orange Pekoe Black Tea, a Portuguese tea(one of the best teas in the world according to the very attentive maitre’d)
As expected, service was excellent and I got the best couch in the lounge with a view! The maitre’d was particularly pleased that I enjoyed myself and made the effort of checking on me every once in a while.
Belated Happy Birthday to me. Today is the first day of my nth year on this planet.
EDSA Shangri-la Manila
This was originally posted on July 14, 2018.
My caption: “Afternoon Tea Set(A selection of warm scones served with coconut jam, clotted cream, and fresh butter. Ham and cheese mini-sandwiches. Grilled chicken satay skewers. Dark forest cream in a goblet, walnut cake with cream cheese icing, dark chocolate tart with a splash of gold, thin dark and white chocolate sandwich with dark chocolate filling, white chocolate eclair. Almond and lychee tea)
I can’t decide if this is a very late lunch or very early dinner.”
Before swallowing these, I had been rolling in the ball pit at Kidzoona while attending a kid’s birthday party. I also managed to knee a toddler or two. After eating, I wandered around Shangri-La Mall for an hour before using my spa voucher to avail of the villa facilities at The Spa. I rarely go to the Ortigas area so I plotted my schedule and finances a couple of weeks before the date.
More afternoon teas here:
A Series of Afternoon Teas – Raffles Grand Hotel D’ Angkor and Majestic Hotel Edition