Afternoon tea is a lovely British tradition that
can be traced back to the 1840s. It started when the Duchess of Bedford
felt hungry one mid-afternoon day and asked her servants to prepare some
bread, butter and tea. She soon started inviting friends over and it
gradually evolved into a three-tier tea set with savory sandwiches at
the bottom to desserts at the top.
Hotels, cafes and restaurants
around the world have since taken afternoon tea to new heights, as they
look to outdo one another and attract customers.
afternoon tea gathering in our hotel is two or four ladies, young and
decently dressed,” says Aileen Yang, marketing manager at Sofitel
She adds that afternoon tea in Shanghai used to
be mostly popular among older adults (especially women), or retired
people playing mahjong over a pot of green tea without any food.
Hotels now offer extensive tea menus with tea leaves coming from such places as China, Sri Lanka, India and Japan.
course, restaurants have also modernized the classic and offer
variations that may include Champagne, fresh juices and even smoothies.
restaurants and hotels are trying to make their afternoon tea menus
more luxurious by cooperating with luxury fashion brands.
Langham Xintiandi Shanghai has teamed with Italian jewelry brand Damiani
to launch an afternoon tea with chocolate shaped like a high-heel shoe,
chocolate diamond rings and gems like macaroons.
Afternoon tea in The Renaissance Shanghai Yu Garden Hotel is completely tailor made with only one table available per day.
In terms of food, Phil Du, the food and beverage director at Marriott City Center, says mixing and matching is a big trend.
cup of tea doesn’t just have to be with an English muffin or scone
these days,” Du says. “It could be a Peking roast duck roll with a mint
Yannick Oppermann, executive pastry chef at Pudong
Shangri-La, East Shanghai thinks healthy seasonal ingredients play an
increasingly important role on afternoon tea menus.
“We are going
more with sugar free or low sugar, or either gluten free food, more
healthy, which doesn’t mean less tasty. I think it’s even the opposite,”
Hotels have often served the most memorable
afternoon tea sets due to their distinctive ambience, location, great
service and more diverse options.
“Hotels are generally quieter.
Plus the private ambience complements the social function of afternoon
tea and then there is often a wider variety of food and drink,” says
Wendy Wu, the outlet manager at Andaz Xintiandi Shanghai.
with independent restaurants, hotels usually have a better location,
often by the river with a view or with a rooftop terrace and garden.
also offer the best service. When you go to a hotel very often they
will remember your name, your favorite drinks and treat you like their
friend,” Du says.
This week we highlight six hotels known for
their afternoon tea. Some include nice views of the Huangpu River while
one offers a combination of Italian, French and Chinese cuisines while
another has a chocolate fondue accompanied by madeleine cakes.
Great artist inspires the Van Gogh set
Shangri-La, East Shanghai has recently launched the Van Gogh afternoon
tea set in its lobby lounge to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the
The hotel’s pastry chefs use their skills to take guests on a journey of Van Gogh’s life.
serve the tea set in a painter’s palette, with three tiers of food
inspired by some of Van Gogh’s most famous works. For example, to
highlight his painting “Sunflowers,” a golden sunflower chocolate cake
is served. The cake is covered with yellow cream and jelly to represent
Five different flavored creams in yellow, brown, orange, red and green — Van Gogh’s favorite colors — are served in the palette.
plate, the bottom of which is made of chocolate, includes a brush,
allowing diners to dip it into the colorful creams and pretend to be an
Cookies are topped with a self-portrait of the artist made from chocolate.
Price: 368 yuan + 15%/set (including two glasses of Champagne)
Address: 1/F, River Wing, 33 Fucheng Rd
A variety of flavors
tea at Andaz Xintiandi Shanghai is in a spacious, yet cozy lounge and
its adjacent terrace. The decor is chic and sophisticated, yet a bit
quirky and modern in its daring use of color. Bright pinks and oranges
are splashed throughout the lounge, taking form in a variety of
mini-sofas, cushioned chairs, and giant paintings by local artists.
A massive glass wall at the back allows sunlight to pour in while customers enjoy their afternoon tea.
Guests sitting on the outdoor terrace can see Xintiandi.
afternoon tea set options are offered, a traditional set and the newly
launched chocolate fondue option. The former consists of 13 items
covering English, French and Italian delights including raisin scones,
cucumber-lox finger sandwiches, tiramisu and éclairs. The icing on the
éclairs is neon, fluorescent pink, the panna cotta contains Asian-style
sago, and the tiramisu is topped off with a glitter-dusted piece of dark
chocolate in the shape of a stiletto heel. Also in the set are a tofu
cheesecake and what can only be described as a mini pastry version of
the xiaolongbao (steamed dumpling usually with pork filling) filled with
The fondue is made of famous Royce chocolate imported
from Japan and is accompanied by mini madeleines, fresh fruit, ice cream
scoops, marshmallows, shortbread cookies, egg rolls and potato chips.
Madeleines are slightly crisp on the outside, buttery on the inside, and still-warm from baking, with a slight hint of lemon.
traditional set (168 yuan + 15% for one person, 328 yuan + 15% for
two); chocolate fondue set (168 yuan + 15%, serves multiple diners)
Address: 1/F, 88 Songshan Rd
Shanghai Hyland’s afternoon tea set incorporates traditional French
refinement into the urban fabric of Shanghai, offering many scrumptious
snacks with an emphasis on French desserts.
The three-tiered tea set including sandwiches, scones and desserts is highlighted by airy and crispy macaroons.
Try replacing the tea with a cup of hot chocolate to fully enjoy the French “art de vivre.”
While the menu is distinctly French, the location provides the Chinese aspect.
hotel is on Nanjing Pedestrian Mall, the city’s most famous shopping
Guests having afternoon tea will have a good view of the
activity taking place on the street below.
Price: 168 yuan + 15%/set
Tel: 6351-5888 ext 4474
Address: 2/F, 505 Nanjing Rd E.
The sky’s the limit
Afternoon tea at Renaissance Shanghai Yu Garden can be completely tailored to the desires of each diner.
can order their favorite food, tea and other drinks in advance and
hotel’s international culinary team will try its best to satisfy.
Only one table is available each day so reservations are required at least one day in advance.
The set includes a complimentary bottle of Mumm Champagne.
Afternoon tea is on the hotel’s roof terrace of the hotel and boasts a 180-degree view of Shanghai’s historic Yu Garden.
in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), it was once the largest and most
prestigious Chinese-style garden in Shanghai and is now a popular
Price: 1,888 yuan + 15% for six people
Tel: 2321-8888 ext 6234
Address: Rooftop terrace, 159 Henan Rd S.
Tea in the garden
tea at Shanghai Marriott Hotel City Center is served in its winter
garden, a five-story glass atrium decorated with seasonal plants, where
floor-to-ceiling glass walls allow an abundance of light.
combines authentic Western pastries presented in a three-tiered
traditional Chinese red wooden box. Pastries include scones and there
are a selection of sandwiches and other desserts.
The scones are
freshly baked and are served with a silky clotted cream, a fresh
sweet-and-sour orange cream cheese, and strawberry jam.
Price: 168 yuan + 15%/set
Address: 1/F, 555 Xizang Rd M.
Hanging out on the Bund
Tree’s afternoon tea is offered both in its second-floor lounge and on
the roof bar. Both options utilize the hotel’s location on the Bund.
lounge boasts floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the Huangpu River
and the Pudong skyline, providing a tranquil way to enjoy the city. The
rooftop bar also offers nice views of the Bund.
The afternoon tea
set is presented in an elegant bird cage that hangs next to each coffee
table. This unorthodox setup isn’t just about aesthetics as it allows
guests to have an unobstructed view of one another.
including eight desserts and five savories, push the boundaries of
international cuisine with a tomato and cream cheese tartine, spicy tuna
maki, avocado and kidney bean-stuffed smoked salmon roll, and
herb-marinated Wagyu beef skewers.