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Strings Intercontintental – summer afternoon tea

Here’s a write-up of an afternoon tea I did 18 months ago – I am only now trying to catch up on a backlog of afternoon teas which I’ve yet to post about. My blogging hiatus has been for a number of reasons but mostly it comes down to lack of time. Other priorities have take over which eat into blogging time – mostly work and swim training. Over the last couple of years I really ramped up my swim mileage training for marathon swims and channel swims etc. This meant most of my time when not at work was spent swimming. Any free time was taken up with sleep, bludging (ie Netflix – which I cancelled last year), and catching up with friends etc and trying to maintain a social life. Anyway, here is my attempt to try and get back on the blogging horse.

The afternoon tea scene in Tokyo has really exploded the last couple of years. So many places now offer it – hotels, restaurants and cafes. It used to be limited to just a few select hotels. But now hotels are offering seasonal teas so they are getting more varied and fancier, and with the changing menus with each season and sometimes monthly (!) – they now how to get customers to keep coming back.

So let’s rewind back to the summer of 2016 – the Strings Intercontinental hotel in Shinagawa was a hotel that I had not yet been to for afternoon tea so I jumped on the chance when they released a summer afternoon tea. Their offering was a summer kakigori (“shaved ice”) afternoon tea in a tiered round bowl vase.

The afternoon tea wasn’t overly special. It was light on the savoury bites and too heavy on the desserts. There were just a couple of h’ordeauvres (ie a sandwich and olives).

The rest were all sweets and only ok at that. Given the seaons, it focused on fruits and citrus flavours. The desserts tier included: a passionfruit macaroon, a passionfruit chocolate bonbon, a lime tart, and few other sweet treats.

As for the scones – a coconut one, and an acai one – both of which were new flavours of scones for me and not the standard fare. They were also very typical Japanese ones ie hard and dry. Very unlike Australian scones which are super soft, light, fluffy and buttery. No country does scones like Australia, I tell you.

I liked the servingware though. I’m always drawn to how different venues serve their afternoon tea and the presentation. This one come in an interesting tiered spherical bowl.

Each layer/tier of the bowl was unstacked and held food.

The differentiator of this afternoon tea, was the kakigori (shaved ice dessert) – a popular Japanese different in summer.

A different experience for afternoon tea – but the quality and taste factor of the food wasn’t quite there.

Nevertheless, another Tokyo venue ticked off the list:

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Hong Kong high tea at Mandarin Oriental

So many high teas which I have yet to blog about. This one dates back to May 2015. I was on a business trip to Hong Kong and managed to catch up with a friend over there and squeeze in a high tea.

There’s no shortage of high teas in Hong Kong, but I finally settled on the Mandarin Oriental Hotel as it was in a convenient location.

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There’s nothing like a relaxing afternoon of tea and food.

Sadly, the afternoon tea wasn’t particularly amazing, but it sufficed.

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1967, Tokyo Afternoon Tea

Another year, another afternoon tea.

For my birthday last month, I had a small low-key afternoon tea treat with a friend, just the two of us.
Tried out a different venue for afternoon tea – it’s getting harder to find placed I haven’t been to yet.
I had been to this venue for dinner before but not for afternoon tea. The venue was 1967 in Roppongi – an oriental continental bar.

Really nice venue especially in the evenings. The entrance is a little awkward – dark curtained corridor but it opens out into a nice bar area and a terrace lounge area.

From 1967 afternoon tea
From 1967 afternoon tea

The afternoon tea seemed very reasonable with a Western-Asian fusion. I like when you get the best of both worlds.

From 1967 afternoon tea
From 1967 afternoon tea

Tea selection was ok, but limited on the black teas. Only one pot allowed. One choice per person.

From 1967 afternoon tea

This place had a good sampling of foods. The savoury elements were particularly appreciated. I liked their modern take and the absence of sandwiches. I’ll take cheese and crackers and these morsels anyday.

From 1967 afternoon tea
From 1967 afternoon tea
From 1967 afternoon tea

And a little champagne to wash it all down:

From 1967 afternoon tea
From 1967 afternoon tea
From 1967 afternoon tea
From 1967 afternoon tea
From 1967 afternoon tea

Presentation of the afternoon tea set was also lovely and modern.

From 1967 afternoon tea
From 1967 afternoon tea
From 1967 afternoon tea

I was quite impressed with the sweets selection – very fresh, delicious and plentiful. And chocolate and strawberries aplenty.

From 1967 afternoon tea
From 1967 afternoon tea
From 1967 afternoon tea

These strawberries were stuffed with ice cream inside. Amazing and genius:

From 1967 afternoon tea

And there were scones as well. Albeit very miniature scones. Super tasty. Loved the cream. Only complaint was that they were too small. But anything miniature is cute so it was redeemed by the novelty factor and flavour.

From 1967 afternoon tea
From 1967 afternoon tea

And whilst there wasn’t jam, the scones were served with custard. I haven’t had custard in forever and dare I say it was probably even better than having scones with jam. A winner in this case.

From 1967 afternoon tea

The scones were so small they fit on a spoon. But still cool nonetheless so all was forgiven.

From 1967 afternoon tea
From 1967 afternoon tea
From 1967 afternoon tea
From 1967 afternoon tea

All in all, this place definitely got my approval. It definitely ranks in my top 10 for afternoon tea in Tokyo and definitely a place I would recommend. It wasn’t busy on this particular Saturday afternoon, lovely outdoor terrace lounge, food was lovely – fresh, delicious, and plentiful. Couldn’t really fault it although tea selection was sufficient, it could have been wider. Also very reasonably priced at 2800yen which is hard to beat for this quality food, and extra for glass of Moet. Both are excellent value. The menu changes regularly which is a not bad thing. Could definitely go back here again. Was super satisfied.

Tokyo afternoon tea, Captain Cook

Did another afternoon tea recently. The brief was a bit of a challenge. It was a friend’s birthday and only had about a week to book it. Everything in Tokyo needs to be booked 2-4 weeks in advance so getting a table anywhere for five people was going to be tricky. I tried about 5-6 venues to no available. Another hurdle which unfolded was the budget. They wanted an afternoon tea for about 3000-3500yen which is hard to find in Tokyo. The third hurdle was the time. Most afternoon teas don’t start until about 2pm but we needed one for a lot earlier for around 12:30pm.

I finally found a place that offered tea for 3000yen and they had availability. However, when I requested the time, they informed me that afternoon tea wasn’t offered until later in the afternoon, but they so kindly offered to prepare it earlier for our group. Yay, success.

The place in question was Captain Cook Cafe. And it was quintessentially British. It was a like a little piece of England in Tokyo.

From Captain Cook afternoon tea
From Captain Cook afternoon tea
From Captain Cook afternoon tea

The venue is two floors and we were seated upstairs. Interior was very British and cosy.

Upstairs:

From Captain Cook afternoon tea

Downstairs:

From Captain Cook afternoon tea

Look, there’s even HP sauce:

From Captain Cook afternoon tea
From Captain Cook afternoon tea

The menu features all things British and they’re open for brunch and dinner, featuring classics such as roast beef, pie and chips, sausages, and even the good ol’ hot English breakfast. I will definitely be back to sample more of their fare.

Afternoon tea was on the agenda for this particular Saturday afternoon, or rather lunch.

From Captain Cook afternoon tea
From Captain Cook afternoon tea
From Captain Cook afternoon tea
From Captain Cook afternoon tea
From Captain Cook afternoon tea
From Captain Cook afternoon tea
From Captain Cook afternoon tea

There was plenty of food – most of which was very sweets heavy. There were just a couple of morsels of sandwiches which were the only savoury components. The rest were all sweets and cakes.

From Captain Cook afternoon tea
From Captain Cook afternoon tea

This sample was yummy:

From Captain Cook afternoon tea

I would say that the sweets and cakes were either a hit or miss. The cupcakes were probably the worst (they tasted stale), but everything else was edible. The scones unfortunately weren’t very British. We had such high hopes especially given that the birthday girl was British. They were skimpy on the jam and cream though. Not quite enough for 5-people serving and then we discovered they charged us for the extra cream that we had to ask for:

From Captain Cook afternoon tea

The service though was wonderful. The staff were very accomodating and super friendly. And I really loved the venue and the interior. Lots of British paraphanelia.

As for teas, you choose the one kind but then unlimited hot water refills so we went through quite a few pots of tea.

All in all, a lovely quaint afternoon tea for the price tag. And I’ll definitely be back to try other dishes. It’s a nice venue to drop by for a cup of tea and a book, to be sure.

From Captain Cook afternoon tea
From Captain Cook afternoon tea
From Captain Cook afternoon tea

High Tea at Aman, Tokyo

The newest hotel to arrive on the Tokyo scene is the Aman Hotel which opened up in Otemachi (near Tokyo station) last year. This hotel, or rather it’s high tea offering has been on my radar for a while now. But bookings have been near impossible with a lot of frustration on my part. I am a rather impatient person.

In September last year, I tried to get an afternoon tea booking. But they were extremely busy and I was told that there were no seats until middle of October. Seriously, who are all these people who are doing high tea? With bookings full 4-6 weeks in advance, I had to drop pursuing this one for a while. I also did a few overseas trips at the end of last year (Australia in November and Palau in December) so wasn’t available for afternoon tea.

So back in January, I tried again to get a booking, only to be told that they were fully booked until February. Geez, I’ve never known a harder reservation. Getting a Michelin star restaurant reservation would have been easier that this afternoon tea. By this point, I was asking the hotel, let me know all your available days and time slots. How about you tell me when I can get a booking rather than when I can’t. It was at this point, that they enlightened me that they actually offer it everyday! And not just weekends which I was had been trying for. And not only was it offered every day of the week but from 11:30am to 9:30pm. Again not noted on their website (which states available from 12-5pm). With every day offering and a much later timeslot, I opted to do an evening afternoon tea instead. So I was able to finally get a booking for a Friday evening in January. So instead of dinner we went for high tea at 7:30pm after work, which was a little weird. Let’s hope all this trouble was worth it.

From Aman high tea

The high tea is offered in their Lounge Bar of the Otemachi Tower building and it’s called the “Black Afternoon Tea”.

From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea

You’ll be pleased to know that this is all-you-can drink tea and you can choose as many different kinds of tea as you like. Tea supplier is Ronnefeldt (same as the Four Seasons).

From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea

As for atmosphere, one word – Dark. Interior was varying shades of black, charcoal and grey.

From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea

A glass of sparkling: to begin the Friday evening:

From Aman high tea

Everything was black – the napkins were black. And even the teapots were black:

From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea

I did love the fact that the teapots came on tea warmers. One of only two places I have ever been to in the world so far where they do. This always wins brownie points in my book.

From Aman high tea

Afternoon tea for three:

From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea

Savouries:

From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea

The pate was amazing. The savoury portions were a little too small for my liking.

From Aman high tea

And the menu also said it had a fritter, but we think they mean frittata.

I also felt that the petite sweets dishes way outnumbered the savoury dishes. They could have had less sweets to make the afternoon tea more balanced, especially so when they offer afternoon teas until 9:30 in the evening. They could do with less sweets or more savouries for a more balanced dining experience.

There were only 5 savoury bites compared to about 10 sweets (not all pictured below), plus scones! This was a little too much sugar load for dinner (in lieu of a proper meal).

From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea

The sweets though were impressively handcrafted with a fashion theme.

From Aman high tea

Check out the chocolate handbag and high heels. And hat as well.

From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea

Edible fashion is a lot of fun:

From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea

And the handbag came filled with berries:

From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea

And the high heel was caramel filled:

From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea

And there was a jelly as well.

From Aman high tea

And jubes that came in an edible chocolate shell basket:

From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea

I washed all this sugar down with about 4 pots of tea.

And of course, there were also scones to be had: Though shalt not go hungry with the Aman high tea.

From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea
From Aman high tea

So the overall verdict:
Filling, yes. Ideal for sweets lovers. Was a little too light on the savoury elements. And not the most amazing scones ever. Unlimited teas and coffees is a big bonus though. The whimsical edible fashion sweets are a drawcard for girly girls. I’ll always be persuaded on flavour though. Not all the sweets were to my liking. I can’t say I ever really enjoy a jelly.

Standard price is 4,600yen plus tax,so about 5000yen without the champagne. Not bad considering the establishment, food and unlimited tea. Other downside was the smoke. We were unfortunately seated near the cigar library room which meant that cigar smoke pervaded the lounge area. I would recommend asking for a window seat to avoid the smoke. Don’t know that I would go back here again.

Andaz afternoon tea, Tokyo

It’s been ages since I last partook in afternoon tea in Tokyo.
On Sunday, I did a final one for the year – in Tokyo that is.
Although I’ve got a few international high teas on the itinerary.

I got around to checking out the newly-opened Andaz Hotel (part of the Hyatt group of hotels). The hotel is within the new Toranomon Hills building that only opened in June this year.

From Andaz afternoon tea

Andaz Hotel surpasses the Ritz Carlton Tokyo as the highest venue in Tokyo (and Japan for that matter) for high tea.
The Andaz Lounge is on level 51. It was a little tricky to get up there but finally did.

From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea

Once your eventually find the elevators for the hotel, the express lifts go from level 1 directly to level 51.

Window seats command excellent views over northern Tokyo including the Tokyo Skytree. Although I had requested window seats upon booking, priority is given to large groups (minimum of 4 people, although 6 is ideal). As a party of two, we were bumped out and seated at a regular table. The place was pretty busy with lots of afternoon tea-goers so reservations are recommended.

Afternoon tea is available at the Andaz Tavern from 2-6pm

From Andaz afternoon tea

The afternoon tea includes unlimited tea, although their range isn’t that big.

From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea

You can get through quite a few teas, because a lot of teas are actually served by the cup and not by the pot.

From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea

Everything is very new and the decor quite nice – but typical of a skyrise hotel lobby lounge.

From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea

First tea I had was puerh tea and my favourite of the day. Ended up ordering this about 3 times.

From Andaz afternoon tea

Tea is served by the cup and not by the pot.

From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea

Here are the afternoon tea stands:

From Andaz afternoon tea

Presentation was nice. But only two tiers, you say.
Fear not, the scones were served on a separate plate.

From Andaz afternoon tea

I like to go overboard on the photos. This will be no exception:

From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea

Yummy deletable goodness:

From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea

The savoury goods are always my favourite.
And I’m always a sucker for quiche.

From Andaz afternoon tea

I do think the menu is a little bit lazy.
Using the same pastry pieces for the savoury and the sweet, granted that the dessert version has custard and creme inside them, but still. They just made lots of those eclair pastries – which weren’t even that great.

From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea

I also ordered houji cha and that came served in a pot.

From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea

And also ordered English breakfast tea which was rather disappointing – not served in a pot. Was brewed on the weaker side. Milk was served warm which was nice.

As for the scones – typical Japanese/American scones. More like dry biscuits. Oh how I miss Aussie scones.

From Andaz afternoon tea

Notice anything remiss about the scones?….

From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea

A distinct lack of strawberry jam is what is missing.
Blasphemous.

I had to ask for jam – specifcally, strawberry jam.
And they came back saying that they had no strawberry jam.
A hotel that does not stock jam is not a hotel in my book.

Instead they gave as an assortment of jams – none of which included strawberry. We got honey, orange jam, cherry jam and raspberry jam.

A little disappointing to say the least.

From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea

Here is my scone with not strawberry jam:

From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea

Here is also a glimpse of the view not from our window seat:

From Andaz afternoon tea

The tavern/lounge by night, which by the way would make a very nice venue for cocktails.

From Andaz afternoon tea

A little on the pricer side at just under 5000yen (by the time you include the tax and service charge).
Wouldn’t say it was a value for money.
Pros – unlimited tea. Con – limited range of tea.
Great views, but only if you’re lucky to get a window seat (only bigger groups allowed window seats).
Food was ok. The menu was uninspired and no strawberry jam.
Still an overall pleasant experience, but money better spent elsewhere.
It’s a recommended venue if you want to say you’ve been the highest high tea in Japan.

The outside sculpture:

From Andaz afternoon tea

Afternoon tea in Fukuoka

Hisashiburi afternoon tea. It’s been ages since I’ve done an afternoon tea in Japan. Did one recently, but not in Tokyo.
I went to Kyushu for the long weekend last weekend and caught up with an Aussie friend from my Fukushima days who now lives in Fukuoka. Met him and his wife and his new baby for a nice afternoon tea in Fukuoka at the Grand Hyatt hotel.

The hotel is in Canal City, one of the shopping districts near Hakata.

From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea
From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea
From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea

Here is the hotel:

From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea
From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea
From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea

The back entrance:

From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea

The afternoon tea was pleasant enough. The hotel was pretty nice too, considering it ain’t no Tokyo.

All your tea essentials:

From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea
From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea

They only had about 4 to 5 teas on offer and very standard ones (English breakfast, darjeeling, early grey, assam). I went the assam, with hot milk in a jug.

From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea

On offer was the Caramel afternoon tea set – a seasonal tea menu for autumn. It was actually pretty good.

From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea
From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea
From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea
From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea
From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea
From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea
From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea

You can’t really go wrong with caramel.

From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea

Everything on this plate was delicious:

From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea

The vanilla ice cream was amazing with a hint of caramel. The caramel sponge cake roll was so moist and fresh fruit added a hint of citrus to offset all the caramel sweetness.

From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea

The sandwiches were neither fancy nor gourmet, bu they were decent enough:

From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea
From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea
From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea

Only one scone and a small one at that. But we essentially got two plates of desserts.

From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea

Notice something missing in the above two plates?

I’ll give you a minute to think about it.

Notice the absence of jam! No jam for my scone. Tsk Tsk.

From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea

The hotel was quite nice and there was also a live pianist who did some decent cover music:

From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea
From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea
From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea
From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea

The Terrasse Lounge:

From Grand Hyatt Fukuoka afternoon tea

It was a nice afternoon tea. My first one in a while. No tea sampling but free hot water refills allowed. Service was good, and it was excellent value for money. Approx. 2000yen plus tea. Given there are probably limited afternoon tea options in Fukuoka, it’s probably the best option. We whiled away a few leisurely hours there. A pleasant day indeed. Need to save up my pennies for a some very pricey afternoon teas that have been locked in, coming up in a couple of months.

Guam afternoon tea

I was overseas in Guam for the swim race, so, of course, I had to do an afternoon tea. Unfortunately, time was tight so it meant that I had to do it on the Sunday afternoon after the 8km swim. The problem was, was that I was full from lunch prior to turning up for afternoon tea. One should not partake in afternoon tea on a full stomach!

According to my prior research, I couldn’t really find any venues in Guam to do afternoon tea. The only place I found was at the Hyatt Regency, so the Hyatt Regency hotel it was then.

I had done the 8km swim race early that morning, had a monster of a lunch (see Exhibit A), and then had evening plans from about 6:30 so I had a small timeframe in which to do afternoon tea. So without much of appetite I went along to afternoon tea anyway. I did it on my own and didn’t bother with a reservation. There’s not much you need to book in advance for in Guam.

Exhibit A:

From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race

Afternoon tea at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Guam is in the lobby lounge. It wasn’t so crowded so I helped myself to a table and ordered the afternoon tea for two even though it was for one.

You’ll have to excuse the poor photo quality. This is probably the worst set of photos I’ve ever taken an afternoon tea. I was feeling exhausted, tired and full and obviously too lazy to use my camera functions properly.

From Guam afternoon tea

The afternoon tea set here only comes for two. So that meant double quantities of everything. It’s obviously good value if you can share it. It also works out at $14 per person if splitting. Otherwise, on your own you pay the $28 (plus service charge). At any rate, pretty cheap for a hotel afternoon tea. But I gotta say the food was pretty disappointing.

From Guam afternoon tea

Lounge and hotel interior:

From Guam afternoon tea
From Guam afternoon tea
From Guam afternoon tea

The afternoon tea includes a pot of tea of your choice. It was so good to have a cup of tea. It had been a few days since my last cup of tea. I liked the nice tall generous teapot serving:

From Guam afternoon tea
From Guam afternoon tea

I was so full and no one to share the food with, but for the sake of research, I had to try a bite of at least everything.

From Guam afternoon tea

I liked the way the platters were served though. It was a little different but cool.

From Guam afternoon tea
From Guam afternoon tea
From Guam afternoon tea
From Guam afternoon tea

The food was nothing to rave it. Not surprisingly, Guam is not a culinary destination.
The sandwiches were stout and not so appetising:

From Guam afternoon tea
From Guam afternoon tea

Somewhat on the dry side.

From Guam afternoon tea

The food seemed so carby and dry.

From Guam afternoon tea
From Guam afternoon tea

The desserts were better than the sandwiches at least.

From Guam afternoon tea

More dessert and scones:

From Guam afternoon tea

I struggled to even have a bite and sample everything. My heart wasn’t really in it. I was already full still from lunch and was knackered and dehydrated from the 8km swim. My tastebuds were still kinda funky from the saltwater.

Given that options for afternoon tea are very limited on Guam, I suppose it’s not too bad. Price tag-wise it’s very good value especially split between 2. It’s pretty ideal if you’re wanting tea and some cakes. And when you’re hungry enough, anything tastes good. Next time, I’ll just have to go there with an appetite!

From Guam afternoon tea

Kobeya afternoon tea

My mission: to find a cheap afternoon tea in Tokyo. The request was for under 3000yen. That was going to be a hard challenge.

I had plans a few weeks back to meet with a couple of ladies from my Namie NESS days.
We usually meet for coffee/lunch etc. They wanted to do afternoon tea but had set a budget for 3000yen or less.
The starting price for afternoon tea at most places in Tokyo is 3500yen.
And the consumption tax rate in Japan has recently risen as well (that’s been a huge pain!).
This was not going to be an easy task. And I wanted to throw in the extra personal challenge of choosing a venue that I have not yet been to.

I put my research skills to the test and came up with an afternoon tea venue for under 1500yen! Total score.
Not the best afternoon tea I’ve had in terms of food quality, but it made for a pleasant afternoon nonetheless.

The venue was Kobeya at the Tokyo International Forum (TIF) in Yurakucho. Points gained for location.
Kobeya is actually a really nice bakery chain. Some of their bakeries have extended into cafe dining restaurants where you can actually order main meals etc. The only place I know where the afternoon tea set is available is the Yurakucho branch of Kobeya. It’s kind of a “gentei” thing, which means it’s limited to so many servings a day. And they don’t take bookings so you’ve just got to turn up and try your luck that they haven’t reached the limit for the day. Luckily, it’s not heavily advertised and most people don’t know about it. You’ll need to ask for the Tea Time menu. And it’s only available between 2-6pm.

The afternoon tea is simple and no frills.
A pot of tea is included. One tea selection only (but you can ask for hot water refill, but the tea did not taste so good after we did this). I think I went with the UVA tea but they also had a couple of other options as well as an organic tea which is technically the tea that comes with the set.
I liked the little touches such as the timer and the teapot cover.

From Kobeya afternoon tea
From Kobeya afternoon tea

The 3-tier set is light and sufficient, but no so tasty. More skewed to Japanese tastebuds.

From Kobeya afternoon tea
From Kobeya afternoon tea
From Kobeya afternoon tea

I enjoyed all of the sandwiches, except one. There was a mentaiko sandwich. And mentaiko is the roe of pollock and cod (basically fish ovaries).

From Kobeya afternoon tea
From Kobeya afternoon tea

The other sandwiches were perfectly fine.

The second tier was essentially the pastry course: a chocolate chip scone, a green tea (matcha) pastry and a berry pastry.

From Kobeya afternoon tea
From Kobeya afternoon tea

Not enough savoury morsels for your liking? They threw in some olives as well.

Clearly, these items are just from the bakery section of their store.

From Kobeya afternoon tea
From Kobeya afternoon tea

I don’t like matcha flavoured stuff, so I didn’t really enjoy this much. Also the jam doesn’t really go well with a choc chip scone.

The last dish was heavy on the grapefruit theme. Again, not a huge fan of grapefruit, so this afternoon tea wasn’t really to my liking. But I wasn’t here for the food. I was here for the company, to catch up with some friends over language exchange.

From Kobeya afternoon tea
From Kobeya afternoon tea

There was a cheesecake which was quite nice. Can’t go wrong there.

From Kobeya afternoon tea

The afternoon set is 1300yen plus tax. Food items will vary as it will be seasonal. I think I must have gone during grapefruit season.

If you go on a weeked to TIF, you might also be in time for the regular antique market that they have there. Great antiques and knick knacks, but not cheap.

Better beleave it: Tea-Leaf reading with your High Tea

Here is afternoon tea number 4 out of 5 during my 7-day stay in Sydney last year.
This particular venue has on been on my Sydney high tea bucketlist for a very long time. It’s only offered on weekends and the ‘piece de resistance’ here is the tea-leaf reading. I finally got to go there.

From Langham afternoon tea

So on a Sunday afternoon, had a nice mother-daughter high tea at the Langham Hotel, Sydney (formerly the Observatory Hotel). The ‘Mystic Tiffin Afternoon Tea’ includes a tea leaf reading by (you guessed it) a tea leaf reader, as well as your standard 3-tier afternoon tea with a glass of bubbly.

I’ve never had my tea leaves read, but it was interesting enough, if taken with a grain of salt. And you know, I’m a girl, and us girls love this nonsense like horoscopes and tarots etc.
Basically, they brew a pot of tea using big tip leaves. Oolong tea and the like, work best, and then they pour some tea into a teacup, enough for you to drink a few mouthfuls. They then swish the leaves around in the cup and the leaves will stick to the bottom and side of the cup making different shapes and formations from which they “read” about you/your life/future etc. Basically, they interpret these shapes as different symbols and meanings. Yes, it’s a load of hogwash. But I like to indulge in this kind of fortune-telling stuff every now and then. I find interesting it to hear other people’s (ie strangers) perceptions of you. Of course, not a lot of it is true. And a lot of what is said can be quite generic and can generally be shaped/moulded into your life (as well as anyone else’s for that matter).

I recall being told that I’d find love (after having already told me that she thought I was already married!), have kids and all that jazz. At the rate I’m going, I do not foresee any of these things happening (not anytime soon, if at all). She did say my outlook/future was positive and she saw good things (so nothing too worrying). But ultimately, that rests on me. My life is is what I make of it and you can be damn sure that I’m going to do my darnedest to have an awesome life. I also recall the number 2 (concept of “double/couple/twin”) being of significance. Hmmm, not sure what to make of that. Although, last year I did get a double-yolk egg. I love getting double-yolk eggs. There’s something very auspicious about that.

Anyway, it was fun to do a tea leaf reading because I like that sort of thing.

Onto more important things….such as food.

Afternoon tea takes place at the Globe Bar/Lounge inside the hotel.

From Langham afternoon tea
From Langham afternoon tea

This is the table that we were NOT seated at:

From Langham afternoon tea

Nor this table:

From Langham afternoon tea

Nor any of these tables:

From Langham afternoon tea

The food here was nothing too overly gourmet. Standard fare. But I will say the service we received was outstanding. Very genuine, friendly and nice.

From Langham afternoon tea
From Langham afternoon tea
From Langham afternoon tea

Like I mentioned, the savoury plate was not so gourmet. I reckon schoolkids eat better than this for recess:

From Langham afternoon tea
From Langham afternoon tea

There were a lot of sweets:

From Langham afternoon tea
From Langham afternoon tea
From Langham afternoon tea
From Langham afternoon tea
From Langham afternoon tea

The scones were pretty good. But then Aussie scones are the best.

From Langham afternoon tea
From Langham afternoon tea
From Langham afternoon tea

A high tea with a tea-leaf reading, may not be your cup of tea, but beleave it or not, I thought it was fun and whimsical (in a good way).