Of all the seasons to do afternoon tea, Autumn would have to be the best. The cooler weather and the changing leaves is the ideal climate to enjoy hot cups of tea and comfort foods like scones, sandwiches and sweets in a nice warm lounge room whilst sinking into plush comfortable seats. A lot of hotels take advantage of the autumn season and offer a special seasonal menu showcasing typical autumn produce like pears, chestnuts and persimmons.
It actually also occurred to me that it has been one year since I started doing high teas in Tokyo. This exact time last year (in 2009) was my first high tea in Tokyo at the Peninsula Hotel – which coincidentally has also been the best place to date, in my opinion, to do afternoon tea in Tokyo. I racked up venue number 8 over the weekend on my High tea Tokyo Project (my quest to do every high tea available in Tokyo). By the time Sunday rolled around, Saturday’s typhoon had passed, and whilst it was still overcast, at least the rain held off. This time the occasion was Tami’s birthday get-together. Inspired by the mad hatter’s tea party in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, she wanted to have a fancy tea party for her birthday. High tea is becoming a thing peoples! Become a part of the high tea movement! She settled on the Shangri-la hotel (which is the one I had hoped she would decide on, and the one that I had suggested). The Shangri-la was offering a special Autumn Afternoon Tea set only until the end of November, so I am glad I got the chance to try it. Being an autumn afternoon set it made use of of a lot of chestnuts.
The Lobby Lounge of the Shangri-la Hotel is on the 28th floor of the Marunouchi Trust Tower building, right outside Tokyo station (North Yaesu/Nihonbashi exit). The details to decor at the Shangri-la is exquisite with an elegant oriental touch. The layout of the room reminded me a lot of the Mandarin Oriental tea lounge with it’s window seating, and counter bar.
The food here was delectable (a new adjective to my food repetoire). I was most impressed by the sandwiches which were savoury delights to the palate. These were fancy appetizers. I also loved the patterned tea set and tea cups. The food here was so rich and decadent that I didn’t even finish all of the desserts tier, a first ever for me. They also had some very interesting fancy teas. I tried the Shangri-la hotel blend which was basically an assam and darjeeling blend – can’t go wrong there. I also had the Darjeeling Blend (darjeeling is apparently know as the “champagne of teas”), and I also tried the almond chocolate tea. This was more bitter than sweet. It was like the coffee of teas. Not being a coffee drinker, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Probably one of my favourite teas on the menu was the Autumn Alascian Garden tea, which I got to try a sip of, but ran out of time to order a pot of. This was a real interesting herbal tea blend consisting of mirabel, rhubarb (!), centaurea and calendula. I don’t know what half of those ingredients are but it was fine tea indeed. I am interested in getting my hands on some of that Alascian Garden tea – not sure if it’s a hotel blend, or whether it’s a real tea available on the market.
Service was good, food was excellent, decor detail stunning, views pretty good too – we could see the Sky Tree nearing construction, and live music from a pianist added a nice touch. The downside was that the tea session was limited to only 2 hours which was definitely not enough time. I felt hurried. I felt rushed to get through the tea and food without really eating slowly and savouring everything. 3 hours minimum needed to enjoy high tea. No debate about it. The tea lounge though was very busy with pretty much all seats occupied, and pending reservations after our session so they needed guests to be in and out, which was a shame.
Gourmet food and tea quality was top notch though, and so is the price tag. It was the most expensive high tea to date, at 4290yen. For that amount of money, you could have gotten a decent 3-course meal and not have been hurried out. This venue is going to be a tough one to rank. I am undecided which I liked better – the Park Hyatt or the Shangri-la’s high tea…on seconds thoughts I think I liked this one. It’s fine dining high tea, on the classy elegant side and should get the credit it deserves. Kudos to the pastry chefs at the Shangri-la. Fine job. In terms of food, tea and details, it kicked arse over the Park Hyatt. Although I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at the Park Hyatt it wasn’t on the merits of its afternoon tea.
The complete photo album can be viewed here. The Shangri-la afternoon tea information: English Japanese Read their Dining Events for up-to-date dining and seasonal afternoon tea specials. 5192692 2010-11-03 03:12:11 2010-11-03 02:12:11 open closed autumn-afternoon-tea-at-the-shangri-la-hotel-tokyo publish 0 0 post 0 food High/Afternoon Tea: Tokyo Japan Tea Tokyo Tokyo Dining _edit_last 253158 _wp_old_slug 1609 BottleLobotomy email@example.com 22.214.171.124 2010-11-05 14:19:29 2010-11-05 13:19:29 Aleisha, My wife and I always look forward to reading your new reviews of Tokyo’s afternoon tea locations. Please keep up the great work! Have you thought of venturing into Yokohama for afternoon tea? BL 1 0 0 1611 Alei firstname.lastname@example.org 126.96.36.199 2010-11-08 03:08:51 2010-11-08 02:08:51 Thank you for reading, and leaving a comment. I love high teas! And yes, I am definitely interested in venturing into Yokohama for tea and cakes, time permitting. There are actually a few venues that I want to get around to in Yokohama that I’ve had my eyes on so perhaps in the New Year… 1 1609 253158 Sailing on the Nile http://memoirsofaleisha.blog.com/2010/11/04/sailing-on-the-nile/ Thu, 04 Nov 2010 02:59:17 +0000 email@example.com http://memoirsofaleisha.blog.com/?p=5192693 So one of the things that I did in Egypt was do a 3-night/4-day luxury cruise along the Nile River. I started from Aswan and sailed north to Luxor. After having spent a week on my own in Egypt, I met up with Bex from the UK for the cruise part. In Aswan we sailed on a felucca (an Egyptian sailing boat), which was most relaxing, and then we boarded our luxury cruise as we spent the next couple of days cruising down the Nile with some sightseeing stops along the way. The heat in Aswan was intense. Between 35-40 degrees celcius everyday. Cruises, generally aren’t my thing but along the Nile River it was actually really relaxing. It didn’t feel like the cruise liner was moving. Something like this I can handle. A cruise on the open high seas would be another thing altogether as I’m apt to be seasick. This cruise though was calm, and relaxing. It was nice to sit and do nothing. We spent the mornings sightseeing, and then the afternoons indulging in tea and afternoon snacks with a book, and dip on the deck pool, watching the sun set. Ah t’was the life indeed. All meals included – buffet breakfast, buffet lunch and buffet dinner. Thou shalt not go hungry on a Nile River Cruise.
More photos available here. 5192693 2010-11-04 03:59:17 2010-11-04 02:59:17 open closed sailing-on-the-nile publish 0 0 post 0 Egypt Travel travel _edit_last 253158 _wp_old_slug Enchanted with Enchan-thé http://memoirsofaleisha.blog.com/2010/11/08/enchanted-with-enchan-the/ Mon, 08 Nov 2010 03:06:11 +0000 firstname.lastname@example.org http://memoirsofaleisha.blog.com/?p=5192694 Enchan-thé – Is that not the best name for a tea store. Ever. It totally kicks arse over the name that I have in my head if I was to ever own a tea store/salon. In my blog review of the Shangri-la tea, I mentioned that I was interested in the tea that was called the Autumn Alsacian Garden Tea. I did some Internet research on it, and all I could come up with, was that Alsace is a name of a small region in France. I could find nothing in relation to tea. The description of that tea at the Shangri-la said that it was a blend of fine tea from China and Sri Lanka with mirabel, rhubarb, cantaurea and calendula from Alsacian Garden. Alsace being a region of France, I discovered.
I emailed the hotel last week asking them for any information at all on the tea, in particular, where I could buy it. I asked them whether they would either sell me some of the tea directly or if they could tell me their supplier. To my excitement I received a very well-written English response from them the very next day. This particular tea is purchased through a supplier, so not a hotel blend, and she gave me a direct link to their website. www.enchan-the.com “The Art of French Tea”. How awesome is that for a tea store name. I do love and appreciate a good pun! “Enchante” in French, an introductory meaning “a pleasure to meet you”, and then “thé” – French for ‘tea’ being added to the end. Pure genius of a name for a French tea store. This supplier specialises in French tea (フランス紅茶専門店). And the tea which I like, is actually called ‘Petite France’ through the supplier, and was renamed by Shangri-la for their tea menu. The Enchan-thé website is pretty cool – a blend of Japanese and French, and lots of interesting gourmet exotic tea blends, which can be purchased through their website. They also sell a range of coloured teapots, accessories and gifts – all tea-related of course. When one thinks of tea, they do not think of France, so this website is quite fascinating as it specialises in the Art of French Tea. I will now also be able to get my hands on some of that ‘Petite France’ (Autumn Alscian Garden tea) which is actually one of their new tea products . You can order direct online (they deliver throughout Japan), and read the staff blog, and the owner’s blog. Will be nice to actually read stuff in Japanese that I will actually enjoy reading about. (Site is not available in English). From the website, it does not sound like they have a cafe/restaurant or a shop (they mostly import and supply, rather than retail sales), but the listed business address is in Tokyo (Komagome area). Will be bookmarking their website for sure.