Afternoon tea was a tradition passed on from the British and unlike most things red, white and blue it is still going strong in Hong Kong. There are many hotels that offer afternoon tea in Hong Kong all inspired by the British tradition of cucumber sandwiches, scones, and tea. When the city was a colony of the British Empire the ritual of afternoon tea was one that brought together the city’s expat elite to talk stocks, shares and their country pile. Today, it’s an enjoyably more egalitarian crowd who sit down to tea.
Below, here are the best places to find a classic or traditional tea set but there are often smaller and larger options available throughout the region as well.
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A recommendation that is neither unique nor original, The Peninsula simply must top any "afternoon tea in Hong Kong" list because it is quite simply the best. It’s not necessarily about the food, which some may argue has been surpassed by other five-star hotels, but that nowhere else can pull off the elegance of the afternoon tea service better than The Pen.
They’ve certainly had plenty of practice: Once the haunt of governors and generals, The Peninsula has been serving up high tea to Hong Kong for nearly 100 years. Very little has changed -- amidst a setting of marble floors and ornate columns you’ll be served English scones and clotted cream and finger sandwiches by bow-tied waiters while being serenaded by a string quartet.
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Parlour at Hullett House
If you find all these cheesecakes and pastries (and, heaven forbid, sandwiches loaded with chorizo or other continental meats) distinctly un-British, head for Hullett House. Tradition is the watchword here. Set inside the whitewashed beauty of the former Marine Police headquarters, tea is served in the Victorian-inspired Parlour filled with images of London, Brighton, and turn of the century Hong Kong. Food stays true to the origins of afternoon tea with a selection of cucumber, cheese and egg salad white bread sandwiches with crusts cleanly cut off and scones for dessert.
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Set out in Repulse Bay the Verandah is run the same folks as the award-winning Peninsula but its seafront setting seems to encourage a slightly more laid back, more informal atmosphere. The setting in a wooden ribbed, whitewashed enclosed verandah is picturesque while the afternoon tea is convincingly traditional with scones and cucumber sandwiches. The out of town setting is certainly part of the appeal although it does mean you’ll need to hit the bus to get there -- it’s in the direction of Stanley.
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For many local regular high tea fans, it’s the Mandarin Oriental’s Clipper Lounge that deserves all the plaudits. Long a Hong Kong institution, the Clipper Lounge is elegant without being overbearing and a destination for local power brokers without feeling exclusive. The afternoon tea is not quite certified by Her Majesty -- brioches, quiches and an American cheesecake would likely lead to a tiff -- but can the Mandarin Oriental’s pastry chef cook up a tasty dessert? You bet.