Zabou: high tea at the Cerulean Tower Hotel, Shibuya

Zabou: My new word which captures the essence of tea. So another high tea venue in Tokyo crossed off my list – Cerulean Tower Hotel in Shibuya. The Garden Lounge at Cerulean Hotel is called Zabou. My translation of the word was “Sit and forget” (a direct translation of the two kanji which make up the word) which is exactly what you want to do in a lounge drinking tea and eating scones. Sit, relax and forget about everything else. It’s a most appropriate name for a tea lounge, don’t you think. My interpretation wasn’t too far off. Let me quote the concept of Zabou as defined in the Zabou menu: “Zabou is a Japanese expression for the serene state of mind that one achieves at the height of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. The mind is cleared and all unpleasant thoughts are cast away so that the soul can relax and take in the beauty of nature. We hope that your visit to Zabou will relax you and fill you with calm and enlightenment.”

Wow. That for me sums up the joy of tea and the pleasure of high/afternoon tea. Some people get massages, some people pray. Me, I drink tea.

The afternoon tea set at Zabou needs to be booked in advance. The set is called the Tour d’ensemble and it is pretty darn delicious. The food is gourmet, and is is definitely one of the better tasting afternoon tea sets around. I think this creeps up within my top three in Tokyo. The savoury tier is really good. It’s lighter on the sandwiches and consists of other appetisers instead. There was a pumpkin mousse, marinated mushrooms, a mini quiche, ham on baguette, and a bread stick. It was all very good. Definitely a winner. The vegetarian set they prepared for Skye was also very impressive. (Let the hotel know in advance of any dietary requirements. They are very accommodating.)

On the scone tier – there were 3 scones – plain, brown sugar and, and one other one. These were good scones, a lot better than some others that I’ve had. I especially enjoyed the condiments – cream, and the lemon butter was extremely nice. Not a raspberry jam fan.

As for the sweets, these too were quite divine. All-round, this was an excellent afternoon tea set in terms of taste. Tea here was also very good. From the tea menu you can try and have as many different pots of tea as you like. I had about four pots of tea. The teas come out in different shaped teapots, and the chinese teas come out in a little terracotta pot. I had Assam tea, white peach tea (surprisngly very good), African morning tea (a bit too creamy), and a Chinese tea called Oriental Beauty.

We whiled away about 3.5 hours here, drinking endless pots of tea. The Lounge is located on the lobby floor so there’s no view but it’s good for people-watching as people come in and out of the lobby, wedding receptions etc. The Lounge is nice and elegant but lacks a bit of character and not as comfy seating as the Westin Hotel.

Excellent value at 3200yen for a delicious afternoon tea set, endless pots of assorted tea. Convenient location – 2 minutes from the West exit of Shibuya station (cross over the big intersection footbridge and it’s the tall tower that you see. And in case you were wondering, Cerulean is a colour. It’s shades of blue ranging from sky blue, deep blue to green-blue. Embrace Zabou. Details for afternoon tea at the Cerulean Hotel in Shibuya can be found here Full photo album can be viewed here