Words by Lee Cobaj

Hong Kong’s British colonial heritage means that the elegant ritual of afternoon tea is as much a part of the culinary landscape as dim sum and hot pot. Delicate savouries and warm scones are a given, but expect plenty of Hong Kong twists, from stunning harbour views to rare Chinese teas to favourite local ingredients.

The Peninsula Star Ferry

With its gilded lobby, string quartet, and white-gloved service, afternoon tea at The Peninsula Hong Kong is at the top of many a bucket list. But, if you visit between January and June, there’s a new way to do it – onboard a Star Ferry specially adapted by The Peninsula, complete with an air-conditioned cabin, outdoor decks, lounge chairs, fresh flowers and silver tea sets.

The harbour cruise sets off from opposite the hotel, embarking on a two-hour glide around Victoria Harbour. A live band plays as guests are presented with trays of sandwiches, scones, cakes, and Star Ferry-shaped cakes.

Clipper Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental

While tourists flock to The Peninsula on the Kowloon side, well-heeled locals make for the Mandarin Oriental in the heart of Central. Here, afternoon tea is served at the mezzanine level Clipper Lounge, where you can peer at the comings and goings in the lobby below – a taipan here, Arabian royalty there, perhaps a glimpse of the hotel’s most famous fan, Oscar-winning actress Michelle Yeoh.

There are dozens of teas to choose from – the hotel’s signature tea is a custom blend of oolong tea leaves, jasmine flowers, orange peel, vanilla and lavender – with warm scones served alongside the Mandarin’s famous rose-petal jam.

The Verandah at The Repulse Bay

Laced into the hillside overlooking Repulse Bay beach on the south side of Hong Kong Island, this heritage hideaway offers one of Hong Kong’s most scenic locations for afternoon tea. Book a table on the terrace for South China Sea views accompanied by a three-tier tower of Boston lobster seaweed tarts, duck foie gras terrine with brioche and fig jam, egg mimosa tortillas, and lighter-than-light sweets including fresh mango and coconut panna cotta, matcha and mascarpone cheesecake – and traditional scones, of course.

109 Repulse Bay Rd, Repulse Bay, Hong Kong

Available Wednesday to Sunday, from 3.30–5.30pm, the tea set can be upgraded to include two hours of free-flowing Ruinart Blanc de Blanc champagne.

The Hari

330 Lockhart Rd, Wan Chai, Hong Kong

This artsy boutique hotel in Wan Chai puts a trendy spin on afternoon tea, with sets available in the Tara Bernerd-designed lobby lounge or on The Hari’s leafy terrace overlooking the hubbub of Lockhart Road.

To bring in a touch of the local, the hotel partners with some of Hong Kong’s best bakeries, including Paul Lafayet and The Bottle & The Bakerman, with trays that might include Japanese egg yolk mousse topped with smoked herring caviar, truffle egg salad sandwiches, purple butterfly pea flower scones or mango crème brûlée. Accompany the luxe offerings with Earl Grey, Saicho sparkling tea, Moscato d’Asti Scagliola Primo Bacio or Perrier Jouet Grand Brut Champagne.

Cafe 103 at the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong

If you want to take your afternoon tea experience to the highest level, book a window table on the 103rd floor at the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, one of the world’s tallest hotels. Afternoon tea is a series of seasonal culinary collaborations, which in the past have included sets designed by Vivienne Westwood, Penhaligons, and Steiff teddy bears.

1 Austin Rd W, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

The current theme comes from the cookie brand Poppins. It features an eyeful – and mouthful – of 1950s Americana, with mini Reuben sandwiches, barbecue pulled pork brioche buns, apple crumble and Rocher hazelnut cream pies perched on bowling alley-themed trays. Skip the tea and team with a giant, messy milkshake instead while enjoying the view below.

The Butterfly Room at Rosewood Hong Kong

The Rosewood Hong Kong offers a refined afternoon tea experience in the delightful Butterly Room, with floor-to-ceiling windows and a tryptic of artwork from Damien Hirst’s Zodiac series. Headed up by executive pastry chef Jonathan Soukdeo (who cut his teeth at Paris’ Hôtel de Crillon), this iteration is served as three courses rather than on a tray.

18 Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

The service begins with savoury canapes – delicate ham sandwiches, fluffy quiche, creamy crab toast – before moving onto oven-warmed scones and madeleines served with clotted cream, strawberry jam and orange marmalade. Lastly, guests can choose from a pastry trolley laden with Tahitian vanilla millefeuille, black forest gateaux and taro chiffon cake. Add-ons include Billecart champagne and Oscietra caviar.

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