Clotted cream on the couch might be the way forward, discovers Carolynne Dear, as she tucks into some seriously good scones at home.
Home comforts. The takeaway afternoon tea could be here to stay.
As Hong Kong battles another wave of coronavirus, social distancing restrictions mean restaurants have to close at 6pm. And tables are limited to just two diners.
Which means the city has been embracing with much gusto the takeaway menu. Once the preserve of curries, pizzas and burgers, takeout menus now cover every cuisine and every level of dining experience - from a humble carton of fried rice to a full-blown, three-course, five-star hotel dining experience.
But could the afternoon tea work in a home setting? After all, much of the tea experience is about the elegant tableware, the hushed hotel setting, the waiter fluttering around with pots of jam and cream and the flowery frocks and heels. How would such a fancy occasion translate to the kitchen table?
As it turns out, very well indeed. In fact it might be difficult to tempt me back into a tea room after a Friday afternoon experience with the takeout tea offering from Hong Kong’s Peninsula Hotel.
The Peninsula - or ‘The Pen’ as it’s affectionately referred to - is Hong Kong’s queen of the afternoon tea scene. The colonial property oozes old world charm and it’s The Lobby Lounge (where the tea is served) is often sold out.
So on a 38 degree day, it was actually quite nice to be tucking in at home in a pair of shorts and without having to queue up for the experience.
The tea comes as a pick-up option (to avoid the covid risk associated with drop-offs) and is packed neatly into carry-out cardboard boxes. We ordered two teas, so two boxes, and there is an option to select eco-packaging.
As the teens were locked in their bedrooms, I invited my youngest daughter to join me - and what a feast we unpacked. There was a variety of delicious sandwiches (too many teas these days ignore the humble sandwich, which, in my opinion, is the mainstay of a good tea), some delicious and artfully created miniature cakes, and, of course, a selection of freshly baked fruit scones. A little pot of clotted cream and a pot of strawberry jam completed the idyllic picture.
The perfectly formed pandan and coconut tart.
We made an occasion of it by setting out the best tea ware and brewing a fresh pot of M&S Gold Blend, and sat down to enjoy our fantastic feast. As always, I had one scone too many so it was nice to be able to flop onto the couch rather than stagger out onto Salisbury Road in my heels and flag a taxi home.
Would I order again? Like a shot. As with many changes brought about by the coronavirus, takeout afternoon tea could be a tradition that’s here to stay.
What we ate
Savoury - Italian mozzarella, salami and tomato powder sandwiches; Caesar sandwiches with sliced chicken and egg; cucumber rolls with garnish.
Sweet - pandan and coconut tarts; raspberry madeleines with vanilla; mango macarons with rice cream; hazelnut and caramel bars; raisin scones with clotted cream and organic strawberry jam.
The Peninsula Legendary Afternoon Tea costs HK$350 per person or HK$680 for two. Pick-up only from 1pm, orders to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Asia Family Traveller dined as a guest of The Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong.
St Regis Hong Kong
The plush Wan Chai hotel is offering an afternoon feast at home courtesy of The Drawing Room. Simply select eight savoury and sweet items from the Mrs Caroline Astor Famed Afternoon Tea menu.
Options include a smorgasbord of savoury options plus a wide variety of sweet treats.
The tempting cake menu includes madeleines, apple compote with caramel mousse, blueberry confiture cheesecake, an ‘Orange Creamsicle’, strawberry parfait, vanilla pastry cream and chiffon sponge with whipped mascarpone and chantilly cream.
Orders must be placed by 11am and the hotel can arrange same-day pick-up between 2.30 and 5.30pm.
HK$398 per person, or HK$718 for two. email@example.com.
The elegant Cantonese restaurant is offering a Back to the 80s Dim Sum Set tea menu.
The tea leans towards the savoury; items include Duddell’s pork and shrimp dumpling, Teochew-style dumpling with peanut, traditional saucy chicken feet, glutinous rice with chicken wrapped in lotus leaf, turnip pudding, imitation shark fin soup, Chinese radish, squid and fishball in curry sauce and a classic egg tart to finish.
Orders must be placed by 6pm the previous day and the tea is available for pick-up or delivery (charges apply for certain Hong Kong districts).
From HK$883 for up to six people. firstname.lastname@example.org.