After a very pleasant High Tea experience in Hong Kong (at the Peninsula Hotel), I finally got around to trying a local Afternoon Tea purveyor. I settled on King Edward Hotel on King Street, as the location brings many fond memories of past significant events.
My SO and I decided to sample the gamut of offerings by sharing the King's Tea (finger sandwiches: egg salad with pommery mustard and arugula, duo of smoked salmon and lemon shrimp, turkey waldorf with sun dried fruits, cucumber cream cheese and coriander cress; selection of delicate pastries: lemon blueberry meringue tartlet, passion fruit mascarpone cheese cake, queen of hearts raspberry sandwich cookie, lavender honey scented madeleine, chocolate pistachio ribbon square; current scones with devonshire cream and strawberry preserves; choice of premium tea from our humidor: we selected the King Edward Blend - floral jasmin and Ceylon blended with the malty character of Yunnan, finished with a sprinkling of rose petals), and the Ploughman's High Tea (pate en croute, savoury sandwich selection, aged tuxford cheddar with raisin walnut crisp bread, Scotch egg with Branston pickle, warm tourtiere, choice of tea: Golden Assam is the one we chose - second flush, large-leaf golden-tipped Assam produces a full-bodied cup with a copper liquor noted for its lively character and distinctly malty flavour - this was their marketing description, not my own).
The atmosphere of the dining hall was excellent, as the ceilings were high and the space well lit by natural light streaming through the sun-roof (sittings are in the hotel lobby). The sandwiches were nice and light - though I would have preferred less usage of mayonnaise throughout. The desserts were their strong point (the lemon tartlet was sweet, yet pucker-inducing), and the scones with cream divine (though I would have preferred an artisan's local jam, or preserve as opposed to the mass-produced Swiss offering of Hero).
However, the Ploughman's version left something to be desired. The tourtiere was a bit tough and chewy and the cheese presented was a very plain, non-aged cheddar. I would have preferred something a bit sharper. The Scotch egg had a crust that was soggy, dense and flavourless (perhaps it just wasn't to my liking).
High Tea: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775...
Close-up of Desserts: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775...
Seating Area: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775...
The teas, unfortunately, were a bit of a letdown. I sampled a rose-scented tea in Hong Kong and was blown away by its subtle floral aroma. I could drink that tea all day long without being bored. However, I found that the K.E blends were very robust (for my tastes) and left me quite parched, probably from the high caffeine content. Perhaps my tastes were nurtured alongside more Asian tea blends, such as floral jasmine and chrysanthemum, or Ceylons, Genmaicha and Sencha - so I am most likely biased since I was not raised on more traditional British blends.
Overall, their classic tea remains their strong suit, though the variety was a pleasant addition with the introduction of the Ploughman's option. For taste alone, I would not order the Ploughman's again, but for the sake of diversity, I would order it again - who knows, maybe it was just an off-day?
What are people's thoughts on the best Afternoon Tea venues of the city? The next on my list to try is Windsor Arms, followed by the Park Hyatt. Any other suggestions? The emphasis for me would be the decor/atmosphere as I like to lounge for a few hours while sipping on my tea. Thank you in advance.
Cheers and Happy Eating!
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