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April 29, 2010

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Time for tea and a spot of tradition

BREAK out the cucumber sandwiches and the good chinaware, the genteel pursuit of afternoon tea gives diners in Shanghai a chance for a little bit of luxury in some of the city's most salubrious hotels at a very affordable price.

Park Hyatt Shanghai and The Peninsula Shanghai hotels let diners indulge in the elegant tradition of an authentic high tea, combined with the finest service and luxurious surrounds.

Park Hyatt Executive Chef Gerhard Passrugger says he has designed an afternoon tea showcasing classic high tea recipes with a modern twist.

Served in the stylish Living Room in the hotel's lobby, there are stunning views over the Huangpu River and the Puxi skyline.

"In the afternoon you have a beautiful sunset, it is incredible, it is an atmosphere like the living room of a palace," says Passrugger. "The Park Hyatt creates a sleek, elegant atmosphere through old-style service in a very contemporary environment."

Cucumber sandwiches are given a modern twist with the addition of crab meat, a creamy homemade aioli and fresh mint.

There is a range of selections on the two-tier cake stand including small black truffle and pancetta quiches, parma ham and green asparagus filled crepes and mini New York-style bagels with smoked salmon that the kitchen smokes on the premises.

For those with a sweet tooth, Passrugger has a range of desserts that include traditional Portuguese-style egg tarts with apricot, a soft chocolate coconut cake and a large macaroon with fresh berries.

In keeping with the traditional feel of the tea, Passrugger also serves scones with clotted cream and marmalade and a range of high-quality loose teas and hot chocolate made from premium chocolate.

The tea is 190 yuan (US$27.83), plus a 15-percent surcharge and is on offer from 2pm to 6pm daily.

The Peninsula's afternoon tea in Hong Kong has become iconic and Shanghai's newest five-star hotel is aiming to build a similar reputation with its high tea.

Guests have two options - a traditional Peninsula Afternoon Tea or a Naturally Peninsula Tea that focuses on fresh and healthy food options.

"Guests can experience a very traditional, elegant afternoon tea with a very high standard of service, a traditional three-tier tea stand and exclusive and exquisite Bernardaud chinaware," says Cecilia Lui, The Peninsula's China regional director of communications.

The afternoon tea includes a range of apple and plain scones, orange Florentines and pineapple macaroons.

A range of salads served with bread is included in the afternoon tea including a tart citrus prawn salad with fennel slaw on a brioche roll.

The traditional afternoon tea also comes with a selection of delicate desserts including an amaretto cake, coffee eclair, strawberry and rhubarb tart and a rich raspberry cheesecake.

For those looking for a healthier option, the Naturally Peninsula Afternoon Tea has a range of health-conscious additions to the selection including a low-fat ricotta chocolate cheesecake and a balsamic mushroom and low-fat ricotta tart.

Both options cost 220 yuan or 310 yuan with a glass of champagne and there's a 15-percent surcharge.

On the first Saturday of every month, The Peninsula Shanghai holds a tea dance where an 18-piece orchestra plays for guests.

The next tea dance is on Saturday and includes a special menu. The selection includes an eggnog and plum parfait, a spiced kumquat macaroon, a ginger-lemon cake and homemade fine chocolates.

The afternoon tea costs 480 yuan plus a 15-percent surcharge. Brunch is available everyday from 4pm to 6pm.


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