travel: high tea at four seasons

by hungryrabbit on January 24, 2012

High Tea at Four Seasons

Hong Kong might once again be part of China, but there are still traces of British customs left over from colonial days. Ask locals about high tea and they will present you with a long list of places to enjoy this tradition.

High tea has long been part of the fabric of Hong Kong. It’s the opposite of Starbucks speed and paper cups—and minus the WiFi and clicking of laptop keyboards. This calmer ritual of meeting friends over tea (or even coffee) in the afternoon is about more than hot beverages—it’s about tiers of delectable savory sandwiches and sweet desserts. More importantly, is the ability to be momentarily still and soak in the bustling intensity of Hong Kong as an observer instead of as a participant for a brief interlude. Starbucks to-go is about fueling up to jump into the fray—afternoon tea is about stepping out of it.

After being treated to a scrumptious lunch by my brother at Tosca in the new ICC/Ritz Carlton complex (which I’ll talk about in the near future), we strolled through the connecting shopping mall. We decided to cross the harbor to go to Central. Soon, it was time for a break.

M suggested a tea emporium we came upon a few days ago, but the wait was over 40 minutes. So my brother guided us through the maze of walkways and platoons of on-coming shoppers to another place.  Now, I live in New York City and grew up in Hong Kong, so you’d think that I’d be immune to crowds and fast walkers. Maybe, but HK citizens still surprise me. There is something about the energy, pace, and determination of Hong Kongers on a mission.

My brother directed us to the serene lobby of the Four Seasons overlooking the harbor. As soon as we approached The Lounge, located off the lobby, I realized why he’d picked this spot. The floor-to-ceiling window framed the spectacular view of where we had lunch—the soaring 118-story ICC/Ritz Carlton tower across the water.

Considering we’d only finished lunch just about 2 hours earlier, we restrained ourselves to 2 orders of tea service among us. The assortment of petite bites was perfect to go with our tea—earl grey in my case.  M selected the English Breakfast blend and asked a simple question about the tea that sent three people running to the kitchen to fetch the tea canister. We sipped and snacked as a piano player nearby ambled through old standards.

It was a fine ending to a wonderful day with my brother. We were renewed for more adventures—the biggest one for that evening was multi-course dinner at home with Mommy.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenny January 24, 2012 at 7:30 am

I love the idea of high tea – just not the tea part! Beautiful photos — we’re currently looking to buy a B & B and one of activities we’d like to do is a high tea.

Liren January 24, 2012 at 11:27 am

What a peaceful respite! I haven’t yet been to HK, but hubby has, and all he can speak about is that incredible energy and bustle. He keeps telling me – “You will love it. It’s like New York, but better.” I can’t wait to check it out for myself. And high tea will definitely be on the itinerary :)

Tina@flourtrader January 24, 2012 at 3:51 pm

What a fun way to spend an afternoon! I used to work right across from the Four Seasons, but never made it in that place. I am sure that the one in HK is pretty unique though. High tea there is probably not to be missed, but then again I would still have to go to the emporium as well! Thanks for sharing this.

Brian @ A Thought For Food January 24, 2012 at 10:26 pm

This is fabulous! Thanks for giving us a peek into high tea at Four Seasons.

Jen Laceda January 25, 2012 at 1:26 am

I miss HK!!!! I had my first high tea experience in Hong Kong (The Peninsula), and until this day, I like going to high teas here in Toronto, Canada (lots of British influence also).

MikeVFMK January 25, 2012 at 8:55 am

That’s what I call tea service! Hong Kong is still on my go-to travel list. The Four Seasons looks spectacular and the food does as well. Glad this was part of your trip, Ken!

Georgie January 25, 2012 at 8:52 pm

How beautiful is the tradition of “High Tea” and that you got to spend it with your family in Hong Kong. I wonder if they offer it in NYC. Nice to have you back ;) though I enjoyed all the photo’s of your trip.

Mimi @ Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong January 26, 2012 at 9:28 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your experience and fabulous photos with everyone! Glad you enjoyed it. Hope to welcome you back on your future visits!

Barbara | Creative Culinary January 27, 2012 at 10:45 am

Somehow I missed this post when you published it Ken. I’m a big fan of The Four Seasons so glad it’s where you finally found a resting spot to enjoy; the food looks positively scrumptious!

Linda V @ Bubble and Sweet January 29, 2012 at 5:46 am

This looks fabulous, I’ll be in Hong Kong in a couple of months and will definitely try to make time for this. Thanks for sharing.

Jeanne @ CookSister! February 9, 2012 at 9:51 am

Oh, I do love high tea! One of the best legacies of the British Empire! :)

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