Uncovering the best afternoon tea in Hong Kong is difficult because there are so many delicious places to try in the city. Each spot that serves high tea has their own twist on the tradition so that the options are endless. While all of the restaurants offer something different, all of them will make you feel like royalty. Keep reading to find out what to expect with High Tea in Hong Kong, the history behind how it got there, and the best 5 spots to try out afternoon tea.
What to expect with High Tea in Hong Kong?
Well, tea of course! And a plethora of small sandwiches and snacks to go with each sip. Most places offer beautiful carousels of finger food ranging from precisely cut cucumber sandwiches and freshly baked scones to chocolate treats. These snacks and goodies are served with your choice of tea. The traditional places will have a range of tea to choose from, or you could even opt for champagne. High Tea is an especially fun event for ladies to dress up and attend together. Each restaurant takes pride in the way their tea is served and the display in which it arrives including not only the tea set and cups but the carousels for the food. At some of the most popular places, like the Peninsula Hotel, lines will begin to form an hour before High Tea begins.
Why is there a Tradition for High Tea in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong High Tea is an interesting mixture of two cultures: British and Chinese. The tea culture in China differs from that of European countries and even some other Asian countries, especially when it comes to how the tea is prepared. In most restaurants, especially Dim Sum spots, the dry tea is thrown right into the pot. This is why you’ll see specks of tea in the bottom of your cup or floating in the hot water as your drink. Tea has always been a part of Hong Kong’s culture and tradition. However, after more than 150 years of British rule, the British traditions engrained themselves into the society in the city as well.
British afternoon tea is said to have originated as a bridge between meals. According to the Afternoon Tea Company, the ritual started with the 7th Duchess of Bedford, Anna, who is “said to have complained of ‘having a sinking feeling’ during the late afternoon.” This was when there were only two meals a day. The Duchess began to drink tea and have a light snack in the afternoon. She invited friends to join and this ritual spread throughout the upper class in Britain. A sign of high society and a truly social event, this fancy ritual was brought to Hong Kong with English rule and has flourished.
Why is it called High Tea?
While the upper class had the time and leisure to enjoy afternoon tea, the working class was unable to do so because they were in the fields or factories. As a result, it is said that what was originally a mini-meal for those of higher-class evolved into a real meal right after work for the rest of society. Instead of eating on a sofa or lounging on a chair, the working-class ate their meal at a regular, high table, potentially giving it the name of “high tea”.
Where to go for high tea in Hong Kong?
1. Most Popular: The Lobby at the Peninsula
By far one of the most popular spots for High Tea in Hong Kong is the Peninsula. So much so, that it has turned into a bit of a tourist attraction and sometimes can attract lines of people. The menu has a variety of teas, homemade scones with strawberry preserve and more.
$658 for 2 people
2. Best Homemade Scones: Clipper Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental
Tea at the Clipper Lounge is filled with flavors inspired by art, fashion and trends happening around the world. Mini cheesecakes, homemade raisin scones and more are presented on dainty silver trays. They are known for their secret scone recipe and special rose-petal flavored jam. One of my favorite Hong Kong Blog's, Sassy Hong Kong recommends their grilled cheese and truffle sandwiches.
$588 for 2 on weekdays // $628 for 2 on weekends/holidays
3. Most Luxurious + Vegetarian Option: Sevva
Oh you fancy, huh? If you’re looking to feel like a million bucks, drink tea and snack on delicious bite-size food while looking out at an incredible view of the harbour, this is the place for you. Sevva takes a simple approach to high tea offering traditional items such as toasted crumpets. They also have a vegetarian option with items like wild mushroom ragout. Oh, and not to mention a special treat from the infamous Ms B’s bakery at the end!
$720 for 2 people
4. For Sweet Lovers: The Tiffin at the Grand Hyatt
The Tiffin offers savoury and sweet items for high tea but are best known for their delicious chocolate treats. They have a chocolate shop inside the hotel and an all you can eat ice cream bar. Plus, the Tiffin works to have live entertainment and music so that you can feel at home and relaxed while you treat yourself.
$596 for 2 on weekdays // $656 for 2 on weekends/holidays
5. Best View: The Lobby Lounge at the Intercontinental
With a wall of windows looking out over Victoria Harbor and a menu constantly featuring special items, the Intercontinental is a truly special spot. They even offer a chinese tea set instead of only the Western style.
$548 for 2 on weekdays // $568 for 2 on weekends/holidays
While there are many other afternoon tea spots in Hong Kong, these five stand out for different, unique reasons. The tradition of tea is in Hong Kong traces way back into the history of the city and combines two traditions. Definitely don’t miss one of these top 5 high tea spots in Hong Kong during your stay!