The story appears on

Page B10

December 5, 2010

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature » iDEAL

High time for afternoon tea

AFTERNOON tea is all about slowing things down and taking a little time to relax.

It is said that in the 1840s, Anna Russell, the seventh Duchess of Bedford created afternoon tea. In the 19th century, dinner in Britain was usually served around 8:30pm. The duchess often felt hungry in the afternoon so she asked her staff to prepare some cakes, biscuits and tea and invited friends to eat together. Soon it became a way of life for the upper class.

Since afternoon tea is a pastime originated from the noble, it was and is still governed by etiquette.

First is the tableware. All food and tea should be served on fine bone China. The tablecloth should be appropriate to the surroundings. Ladies were expected to wear a dress while the men had to a tie. Nowadays, most restaurants don't require formal dress but there are still sticklers to tradition. The Ritz London does not allow people to wear jeans or running shoes for afternoon tea.

Teas and Food

The most popular tea in the UK has traditionally been Earl Grey, a black tea blend that gets its distinct flavor and aroma from the oil of a bergamot orange, a citrus fruit.

Two kinds of Chinese tea are also afternoon favorites, one is Lapsang Souchong from Fujian Province. Since its leaves are dried over a charcoal fire, it does have a smoky fragrance. The other is Oolong from Wuyi Mountain, Fujian Province, and Taiwan. It's famous for a rich fragrance, clear flavor and high prices. Some restaurants serve Darjeeling and Assam - both from northeast India. These are heavier teas and are more suitable for sweet desserts.

It's best to start eating the finger foods on the bottom level of the tea stand and working up. The first serving is often sandwiches with mayonnaise, cress and salmon. The second serving is scones paired with Devonshire cream, and sometimes, with homemade jam. The third level is usually different kinds of dainty desserts.

This week, we recommend four places for afternoon tea in Shanghai. One is in the "sky," another is along the Huangpu River and in settings that take you back to the early 1900s.

Aux Jardins Massenet

Aux Jardins is in a French-style building with a nice garden that was built in the beginning of the 20th century.

It also seems as though nothing has changed since it was built. An antique wood floor, staircase and fireplace all give an air of authenticity. Choose a seat near the window for a view of osmanthus, camphor and platanus trees. The warm sunshine and sweet smell of flowers are particularly inviting.

Coffee can be substituted for tea and the three-layer tea stand comes with various finger foods including scones, sandwiches, mini burger and a mixed fruit tartelette. The lemon cake is also excellent. The sweet cream mixed with the sour lemon makes each bite light and clear.

Serving time: 2:30pm-5:30pm, daily

Price: 238 yuan/ two people

Address: 51 Sinan Rd

M on the Bund

This iconic restaurant is famous for its rooftop terrace and amazing views of the Bund, especially in the afternoon when the Huangpu River sparkles in the sunshine.

The restaurant categorizes 15 teas into four categories, classics, blends, Chinese, herbal and fresh. They also have M's own afternoon blend. The Lemon and Ginger tea is best in autumn and winter.

The desserts, especially the chocolate truffles, are sinfully good. The truffles are soft, sweet and silky on the inside and coated with cocoa powder.

Serving time: 3:30-5:30pm on Sundays

Price: 98 yuan/person

Address: 7/F, 5 Zhongshan Rd E1

Living Room Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea at the Park Hyatt features great views of the Bund and Lujiazui from the 87th floor.

The Earl Grey tea tastes nice, but there is an option to choose champagne.

The food is a mix of contemporary and traditional. The first finger food is crab meat quiche with basil, roasted capsicum and avocado. The herbal aroma of basil, light avocado and the fresh flavor from the crab make for a rich taste. The Parma ham sandwich and home smoked salmon are also good but lack a little personality.

The desserts deserve a big recommendation, especially, the apricot egg tart and raspberry éclair. The egg tart has a crispy surface that tastes like butter flavor and the sweet egg filling is balanced nicely with the apricot. Don't forget the raspberry éclair, it's a memorable experience.

Serving time: 2pm-6pm, daily

Price: 190 yuan/person

Address: 87/F, Park Hyatt Shanghai, 100 Century Avenue

Red Velvet Afternoon Tea

The Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund offers a fine setting for afternoon tea. The feeling of luxury envelops guests as the ceiling and ornate crown moldings feature dentils wrapped in gold leaf. Crystal chandeliers, gilded mirrors and oriental silk rugs strengthen the overall effect. On one side, a woman plays a harp.

Afternoon tea is served in five steps. The selection of fine teas include Assam Mokalberie, Herb and Ginger, Sweet Kiss fruit infusion, Irish Whiskey Cream Black Tea, Chinese Da Hong Pao and Rose.

Next up is the starter featuring a chicken curry puff, bacon cheese tart and salmon rolls. The third is a tea stand filled with various sandwiches, pastries and desserts.

The cake is called 'The Red Velvet' and is favored by many diners. The cake's red color is from natural beetroot juice and cocoa powder. The waiter said this cake even played a role in the 1989 film "Steel Magnolias," starring Julia Roberts, Sally Field and Dolly Parton. The fourth is a group of desserts - four exquisite cakes - with varying degrees of sweetness. The finale is a strawberry panna cotta with cream and jelly.

The afternoon tea menu changes daily as the chef likes to surprise guests.

Serving time: 2pm-5pm, daily

Price: 288 yuan/person

Address: Waldorf Astoria Club Lobby Level, 2 Zhongshan Rd E1


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend