What comes to mind when you hear the words ‘Afternoon Tea’? For me, strange things like rabbits in top hats, ladies with lacy gloves and parasols. Perhaps I’ve read too many fairy tales or perhaps it’s actually a fact that the afternoon tea culture came from the British people in the times of lacy gloves and parasols. Never mind the history, one of the Utropians and I had a great chance to experience on of the tea parties, by which I mean ‘Afternoon Tea’, held by Clarion The Edge Hotel every Saturday, in the afternoon, of course.
Text by Yati Chen
We were greeted by friendly staffs of the hotel’s restaurant who ushered us to our reserved table for two. After being seated, we were approached by an exceptionally knowledgeable staff member, and he explained the whole Afternoon Tea concept in the restaurant. I was expecting a buffet of tea and dainty snacks just like my experience in another country, but I was wrong. Instead there was a menu standing on the table, listing the choices of tea and the food that was going to be served.
As suggested by the cordial staff, we chose and ordered the tea first, while waiting for the food. The tea selections were not too varied but sufficient, with seven kinds of high quality tea belonging to well-known brands, which were also explained one by one by the friendly staff. We decided to share a huge pot of ‘Prince of Wales’, and planned to continue with other kinds of tea later, after we finished our first pot. I had never tried the ‘Prince of Wales’ before, but now that I have, I have no doubt that I will continue to consume this kind of tea in the future. The tea was just perfect for me, not too dark, thus not too bitter, and not too flowery-scented, exactly like the description provided by the staff.
After a few minutes, the food came with grace, carried by two kitchen staff, one of whom mentioned the name of every item served. So here is the best part, the food was served on a three-tiered tray, plus an extra small stone plate filled with scones and orange marmalade. The fancy tray was filled with salmon sandwiches and ham sandwiches on the first story, followed by éclairs with hazelnut cream, lemon meringue cake, truffles, Blondie cake, and cookies on the second story. Lastly, the top tier was occupied by macaroons, strawberry marshmallows, watermelon slices, and a tiny bowl of cream. Are you drooling so far?
We started with the salty food first – the sandwiches – as recommended by the staff, and then worked our way to the top tier. The ham sandwiches were surprisingly delectable, there was something inside the sandwich that made it perfectly salty, but not too salty. Our next target was the scones, crumbly on the outside but soft on the inside, they combined perfectly with the marmalade. After that, in the middle of the second story, our eating pace became slower as we balanced the sweet taste with more tea. By the time we reached the last story, we’d already ordered our second pot of tea, Russian Earl Grey this time.
We finished the top story savoring the strawberry marshmallows, which are a great choice of ending, because they were a mix of sweet and sour taste with a pleasant fragrance of strawberry. And those marshmallows also ended our ‘Afternoon Tea’ experience, together with our last few sips of Russian Earl Grey. It was a lovely experience, and we agreed that we would love to go again sometime in the future.