High-End High Tea; The Best Asia Has to Offer


Photo: Maison de l’Hui

There’s something so regal about high tea. A practice of the bygone colonial era, the midafternoon cuppa has historically been accompanied by savory finger sandwiches (sans crust, of course) scones and something sweet all arranged on a three-tiered cake stand. That tradition is preserved today throughout Asia but chefs are now adding their own contemporary and decadent twists. A high tea in Sri Lanka is taken on an actual working tea plantation. A top pastry chef whips up out-of-this-world sweets in a Parisian-styled salon. And tea takers nibble on dim sum in a spectacular mansion, formally the home of an infamous figure. Read on to discover the most indulgent places to spend an afternoon.

Photo: Café Gray Deluxe
Café Gray Deluxe- The Upper House, Hong Kong

This plush spot on the 49th floor of The Upper House hotel keeps the well-heeled well fed throughout the day and into the night and their afternoon tea is no exception. Aesthetically beautiful and mouth-watering nibbles like smoked salmon on pumpernickel with citrus butter and philo coffee cheesecake are the creations of culinary artist Gray Kunz. This modern take on the traditional high tea offers classic teas, Chinese teas, Valhrona hot chocolate and double espressos along with breathing views of Victoria Harbour. If an afternoon relaxing at Café Gray Deluxe spills over into the evening, guests can stay on for the early supper which begins at 6:00 PM.

Pacific Place, 86 Queensway, +852 3968 1106, www.cafegrayhk.com/

Phtoto: Jim Thompson Tea Room
Jim Thompson Tea Room – Cameron Highlands Resort, Malaysia 

A stay or visit to the Cameron Highlands Resort revolves around tea as well it should- it’s built on a working tea plantation. The resort is situated at 5,000 feet and the result is weather cool enough to trick guests into thinking they’re at a country manor in England rather than tropical Malaysia. The resort’s classic tea service is set both in the elegant Jim Thompson Tea Room or outdoors with sweeping views of the plantation. Tea is poured into fine bone china cups and accompanied by scones with raspberry jam, cucumber sandwiches and a sampling of chocolate treats. Afterwards, consider a guided walk of the plantation or a soak in a tub of tea before a treatment at the Spa Village.

39000 Tanah Rat, +60 3 2783 1000, www.cameronhighlandsresort.com/

Photo: Maison de l’Hui
Maison de l’Hui – Shanghai 

The history is as rich as the experience at Maison de l’Hui’s Juju branch in China’s international metropolis. The three story mansion was once owned by Shanghai gangster Du Yuesheng and also briefly served as a Chinese-German hospital. Today it’s regarded as a place to see and be seen by a who’s who of the Shanghai, from high-ranking government officials to musicians and movie stars. While the tea is excellent, it’s the Shanghai-style dim sum that’s the star of the show. Made in-house, delicacies include a crispy turnip pastries, sticky rice balls with red bean paste, walnut pastries, red date cakes and silky mango pudding.  Two other Maison de l’Hui locations, one in the French Concession District and the other positioned on the Bund, also serve guests daily. 

No.168 Julu Road, +86 4008 2020 28, www.xiaonanguo.com/Ehuigongguan/index.html

Antoinette, Singapore
Photo: Antoinette
Antoinette – Singapore

Award winning pastry chef Pang Kok Keong’s sense of humor shines through in the naming of his café- it’s inspired by Marie Antoinette and her infamous quote “let them eat cake.” However, afternoon tea at the Mandarin Gallery branch is serious about satisfying a refined sweet tooth. Confections are ordered a la carte and include milk-chocolate mousse cake, green tea mascarpone mousse, Tahiti vanilla bavarois and a dozen flavors of macarons. Entrée-sized savory dishes are also available. Tea selections are equally impressive and include custom blends such as caramel crème, French apple tart and Early Grey d’Antoinette.

30 Penhas Road, + 65 629 33121, www.antoinette.com.sg