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Afternoon tea set sweeter with seasonal fruit
By Ruby Gao

FRUIT, refreshing and juicy, sweet and sour, opens up the appetite inhibited by the hot and humid summer. Some five-star hotel chefs have launched their latest afternoon tea sets featuring seasonal fruit.

Many are reaching its optimum ripeness now, including peach, coconut, passion fruit, mango, watermelon, pineapple, kiwi, cherries and various berries.

Some locally distinctive fruit such as cherry, peach and apple also are highlight, says Pasquo King, executive sous chef at Pudong Shangri-La, East Shanghai.

Lots of fruit high in vitamin C have health benefits that make them more popular in the kitchen, says Bobo Cheng, executive pastry chef at Portman Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai.

Chefs consider fruit a good ingredient for pastry, not just to balance sweetness but also to make the presentation more appealing.

“Cherry, peaches and apples are chosen due to their versatile nature to match with both sweet and savory dishes. Peaches, for example, are known to be present in pastries such as tarts while apples are used for pies and crumbles,” says King.

“Raspberries offer great color and taste. Its sour flavor balances the sugar,” says Cheng.

Some fruit flavors and aromas are enhanced and concentrated after being dried and made into tea. “Fruits such as apple, mango and berries contain aromas and flavors better than others once they are dried so that they are preferred to infuse tea,” says Michael Dinges, executive chef at Grand Hyatt Shanghai.

Here are some highlights of fruity afternoon tea in town.

Summer fruit desserts

Grand Hyatt Shanghai

Chef Dinges recently renewed the hotel’s afternoon tea à la carte menu by adding some fruit-inspired treats. Highlights include a passion fruit crème brûlée with mango sorbet and almond tuile (70 yuan+15%), a light, dry cookie, fine lemon crème, crispy meringue with fresh raspberries basil sorbet (70 yuan+15%), summer berry pudding with yogurt ice cream (70 yuan+15%) and Fuji apple crumble (70 yuan+15%).

The chef’s favorite is the Fuji apple crumble, a hot apple pie mixed with nuts and sweet cookie crumbles. It is served with cold vanilla ice cream.

Their popular tea includes some classical Chinese varieties such as Longjing (a kind of green tea with long, sweet aftertaste), Oolong and English breakfast and Earl Grey.

Date: Daily

Tel: 5047-1234 ext 8778

Venue: Patio Lounge, 56/F, 88 Century Ave, Pudong

Peaches & cream afternoon tea        

Pudong Shangri-La, East Shanghai

Chef King has created a peach-themed afternoon tea set. A three-tier tea set of 30 delights is presented in a golden birdcage, with savory finger foods and sweet desserts, from a crab meat sandwich with peach jelly to a warm peach puff, from a soft peach mousse biscuit roll to peach cream with lady fingers.

The foie gras with crispy puff pastry and peach chutney is considered by King as signature items.

The chef pairs foie gras with peach because its sweetness and tartness help cut through heavy and full flavors of the foie gras. “We make a foie gras terrine and then place a slice between two crispy layers of puff pastry, then top it all off with a peach hemisphere (peach cut into half and hollowed),” says chef King.

It is recommended customers start their set with a cup of sweet, fruity peach tea, which is soothing.

Date: Through August 31

Tel: 6882-6888

Price: 228 yuan+15% per set

Venue: Lobby Lounge, 1/F, 33 Fucheng Rd, Pudong

Raspberry afternoon tea     

The Portman Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai

For more seasonal freshness, chef Cheng’s raspberry delight is composed of eight raspberry-flavored pastries such as raspberry cupcake, raspberry tart, raspberry vanilla panna cotta (Italian cooked cream), raspberry Napoleon and scone with raspberry jam. The Napoleon is strongly recommended by the chef.

“The classic Napoleon (a three-layer puff pastry alternating with cream) is known for its agreeable sweetness. We put fresh raspberry on the top so that each simple bite combines smooth-and-crispy texture and sweet-and-sour flavor,” the chef says.

Classical Chinese and British teas are on the menu to pair with the food. Their tea-infused cocktails, fresh and fruity, are added in the set to make the tasting experience more interesting, like the Peach Garden, mixing vodka and peach tea, and the Violet, made from lemon, cranberry and violet. Book the tea set three days in advance.

Date: Through September 15

Tel: 6279-8888

Price: 188 yuan+15% per set

Venue: The Lobby Lounge, 1/F, 1376 Nanjing Rd W.

Customer Service: (86-21) 52920164