There can be few more pleasurable ways to spend an afternoon than lingering over finger sandwiches, dainty tartlets and cream-covered scones, while sipping Earl Grey or something bubbly. Afternoon tea in Hong Kong is a decadent meal-between-meals that feels like a luxurious throwback. (Indeed, credit for the original concept goes to the Britain’s Duchess of Bedford back in 1830.)
With its luxurious hotels and British heritage, afternoon tea in Hong Kong also serves up added perks like expansive views, plush surroundings and live string music. Standalone restaurants impart their own culinary style; from Cantonese to Thai, Italian to French, your favourite cuisine has likely been riffed on at some point in local tea service.
Here are nine standout spots for afternoon tea in Hong Kong, whatever the occasion.
Madame Fu Grand Café Chinois is one of the buzzed-about restaurants and bars to open within Tai Kwun, a grand 1880s police station complex restored and reopened in 2018 as a cultural venue. Among the uniquely styled dining rooms, the intimate booths and warm-hued Pink Room lure tea drinkers and selfie-takers alike: this is one of Hong Kong’s most Instagrammable spaces. On the high tea menu are inventive local takes on sweet and savoury creations, such as peanut and sesame Cantonese sticky rice cake, or Chinese goji berry scones with clotted cream and rose jam. Zhejiang longjing, Fujian jasmine and Hangzhou chrysanthemum are among the numerous teas on offer.
3/F, Barrack Block, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central; +852 2114 2118
The Lobby at the hotel affectionately known as The Pen remains Hong Kong’s definitive spot to get your tea on. With eggshell Tiffany bone china, gilded columns, greenery and gargoyles, the setting is sumptuous even before you add in the serenading Lobby Strings. The menu celebrates the classics: Earl Grey tea; finger sandwiches – with the crusts removed, naturally; and warm, freshly baked scones from a recipe unchanged for more than 50 years – paired with Devonshire clotted cream. It’s not all colonial-style tradition, though. Special events have included the Hello Kitty Culinary Adventure Afternoon Tea, where the tea set was decorated with her signature bow.
G/F, The Peninsula Hong Kong, Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui; +852 2696 6772
Alibi at Cordis Hong Kong is the place to head if you fancy mixing things up with influences from cuisines both local and global. Savoury treats include shrimp dumplings and siu mai with XO sauce, baked stuffed crab shells with Thai chilli sauce and that righteous Hong Kong classic, the BBQ pork bun. Sweets continue in the same vein, including pineapple buns with custard and red bean paste, and Portuguese egg tart with bird’s nest. Your beverage of choice could be Italian coffee or a selection from their TeaCha range, rounding off a fascinatingly fusion afternoon tea experience.
555 Shanghai Street, Mong Kok; +852 3552 3388
Courtesy of Moses Ng
For a languorous change of pace, head to the south side of Hong Kong Island, where The Verandah serves an al fresco afternoon tea overlooking the water. You’ll find it within The Repulse Bay, a gracious former hotel converted into a retail and dining complex. A tea sommelier can talk you through unusual brews such as alphonso mango or cinnamon and almond black tea. Creations such as truffle scrambled egg tartlet or Bayonne ham dust with cucumber, tomato and red onion show innovation in the kitchen, even before the unexpected twists promised by the intriguing caramel chocolate pillow.
109 Repulse Bay Road, Repulse Bay; +852 2292 2822
Chef Ferran Tadeo worked under another famous Ferran, none other than Mr Adrià at the legendary El Bulli, and his afternoon tea at La Rambla overlooking Victoria Harbour comes with a distinct Iberian twist. Biting into the creamy decadence of a croqueta of béchamel with ibérico ham will transport you to Spain in a heartbeat, while the ‘rustic perfect egg’ features scrambled egg, caviar, black truffle and potato foam, all served in an eggshell. Churros with salted caramel end the experience on a sweet note, accompanied by red jade with bergamot peel or plantation breakfast tea.
3071-73 Level 3, IFC mall, Central; +852 2661 1161
The Rosewood in Tsim Sha Tsui is full of eye-catching design touches, from its statement-making art to the plush interiors to the lobby’s Butterfly Room. Green velvet chairs by Mobius, vintage rattan armchairs and pieces by furniture master Giorgetti lure passersby, as do the works of British contemporary artist Damien Hirst. Executive pastry chef Holger Deh practises his own art form, crafting foie gras lollipops, warm madeleines and a show-stopping mille-feuille from the confectionery trolley. Impressive chocolate creations include the fluffy chocolate Butterfly Kisses.
2/F, Rosewood Hong Kong, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui; +852 3891 8732
The slightly controversial shtick at the recently opened St Regis in Wan Chai is that afternoon tea is served from three different trolleys, featuring homemade pastries, freshly baked scones and savouries. As a result, you get to choose your own tea adventure from a list including Gondola in Mekong, which melds Parma ham with Thai basil; or Oishi, where tuna, shiso, tomato and cheese join the party. From the pastries, prosecco tart with champagne ganache and peach cream is a bubblicious way to finish.
2/F, The St Regis Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Drive, Wan Chai; +852 2138 6800
The relaxed elegance of the Clipper Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental has seen it described as ‘Hong Kong’s sitting room’. It certainly looks and feels the part for social gatherings and business meetings. Its location on the mezzanine also means that the Clipper Lounge overlooks the hotel’s busy lobby, a perfect perch for seeing and being seen. On the menu are savoury bites such as coronation chicken or egg, cucumber and mint sandwiches, while notable cakes include delicious intense dark chocolate, raspberry opera or mango and lychee.
M/F, Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Road, Central; +852 2825 4007
This story was originally published in October 2019 and updated in December 2020. Hero image: Stephanie Teng