Tag Archive | tea

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:

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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Afternoon tea – Hotel Seiyo Ginza

Occasionally, I get people emailing me who have contacted me though my blog. To date, I have even met some people – total strangers, at that, through my blog. There was a Spanish guy who would write to me asking about open water swimming in Japan. I met up with him twice over the course of my three years in Tokyo.

I then met a girl who lived in Australia and was visiting Tokyo. She was a fellow foodie and we exchange a few emails about recommended eats in Tokyo, and I agreed to meet her for lunch. I haven’t written a blog post about that lunch…yet. I can’t remember if I mentioned it here or not, but the day I met this girl – we ran into Hugh Jackman’s wife – Deborah Lee-Furness. I just missed out on seeing Hugh Jackman. He was in Tokyo filming the new Wolverine movie. It was sooo exciting just to meet his wife! For the record, we had lunch at the Park Hyatt hotel. I still need to write up about that lunch… that was months ago now.

About 2 weeks ago, I got to meet another blog-reader. We had afternoon tea together. She is such a cool girl. We had so much in common. I’m sure in another lifetime we would be best friends, were it not for the fact that she lives in Ecuador! I am totally going to have to go there! We made arrangements to meet at the Hotel Seiyo Ginza. I had chosen it purely on the fact that the hotel is closing down as of May this year, so I had wanted to go there before they close down. We rocked up without a reservation and were given a table immediately. Two afternoon sets were ordered and we chatted the next couple of hours away. Basically trying to tell our whole life stories in a matter of a couple of hours. Carolina is such a cool person – positive energy and vibe with a lot going for. We’re both foodies and fans of afternoon tea and travel. This was only her second afternoon tea experience ever. The afternoon tea here was very classic, traditional – very tame. Not bad, not terrible either. The hotel isn’t going to be around much longer so I figured I’d give it a try. The Seiyo Hotel in Ginza:

From Hotel Seiyo Ginza afternoon tea
From Hotel Seiyo Ginza afternoon tea

The savoury plate’s saving grace was the mini hamburger.

From Hotel Seiyo Ginza afternoon tea
From Hotel Seiyo Ginza afternoon tea

Sweets and cakes:

From Hotel Seiyo Ginza afternoon tea

Scones – plain and choc chip

From Hotel Seiyo Ginza afternoon tea
From Hotel Seiyo Ginza afternoon tea

The afternoon set here comes with a glass of sparkling wine (or juice) plus four beverages of your choice – tea is served by the cup, not by the pot. So I tried four different cups of tea (original blend tea, assam tea, houji cha milk tea, and a mint tea). All in all, not too bad – 5 drinks plus afternoon tea set comes to 5000yen. Maybe not one of the best options for high tea in Tokyo though.

From Hotel Seiyo Ginza afternoon tea
From Hotel Seiyo Ginza afternoon tea
From Hotel Seiyo Ginza afternoon tea

Is it a little bit uncanny, but do we kinda look alike? (Apart from the fact that I wear glasses.)

From Hotel Seiyo Ginza afternoon tea

 

Afternoon Tea in Moscow: The Ritz

I have an overdue afternoon tea experience to write about. Back when I did the Trans-Siberian over the summer holidays, I, of course, found myself in Moscow. And naturally I made it my mission to have afternoon tea in Moscow. Being the overachiever I am, I did not one, but TWO afternoon teas during my three-day stay in Russia’s capital. You’d be surprised that there are a handful of venues that offer afternoon tea in Moscow. I did my research and narrowed it down to two venues, where I would grace my presence. Today’s review is of afternoon tea at the Ritz Hotel, Moscow. Had there been a Four Seasons Hotel in Moscow, I would have gone there as part of my Four Seasons Afternoon Tea project, but alas no Four Seasons in Moscow, so the Ritz it was. The Hotel:

From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow
From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow

And for those who don’t read English above, here it is in Russian:

From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow

The hotel is within metres from Red Square (which you can see to the left of the photo):

From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow

The hotel lives up to its brand — sheer opulence. The dictionary defines “ritz” as “ostentatious or pretentious display”. I had the Tsar Tea afternoon tea set in the Lobby Lounge, which includes a glass of champagne which is always welcome.

From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow

The tea selection was impressive. 22 varieties of hot tea and 3 iced tea blends. Teas are mostly supplied by Ronnefeldt tea and also TWG. Yes, a table for one:

From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow

A relaxing cup of tea:

From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow
From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow
From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow

Four different kinds of sugar!

From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow

I was even served strawberries!

From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow

The afternoon tea 3-tiered platter is a serving for two. So even though it was just me, I had to order the set as 2-person portion, which meant that there was double of everything. That’s a lot of food for one person!

From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow
From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow

The spread:

From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow

The food was pretty traditional. Nothing too crazy Russian, I guess.

From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow

The savoury plate was a selection of 5 open finger sandwiches: – cream cheese, smoked salmon and capers – camembert, walnut and sour cream – sour cream and roe – cheese, ham, sour cream and capers – prosciutto, cucumber, sour cream Everything had sour cream. They use sour cream like it’s butter. They do love their sour cream in Russia.

From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow
From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow

Desserts was 2 different flavoured macaroons, a choc cup, some jubes, and a cake. One of the macaroon flavours was mint and basil. A little weird.

From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow
From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow
From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow

And the scones for last:

From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow

And yes, even the scones were served with sour cream! This is a thing in Russia. Sour cream with everything. I love sour cream as much as the next person, but on my scones! Even I have limits. Scones, sour cream and jam is just a weird combination. I actually even had the audacity to ask for fresh cream. They happily obliged and gave me a generous serve of fresh cream.

From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow

Now that’s more like that. Topped with strawberry jam.

From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow
From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow
From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow

Afternoon tea in Moscow. Check.

From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow

Hotel interior:

From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow
From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow
From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow
From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow
From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow
From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow
From Afternoon tea, Ritz Moscow

The Tsars Tea afternoon tea set cost 2500 rubles (portion for 2). So for two people, I think you get to split that cost. It does include a glass of champagne, 3-tier platter of food and unlimited tea. Not recommended if you have an aversion to sour cream!

Hotel Tokyo Palace Afternoon Tea

The Palace Hotel Tokyo right near the Imperial Palace garden precinct and Tokyo Station district opened earlier this year in May. It’s also really close to my office building. I’ve been able to see the hotel being constructed over the last year or so. Since the hotel opened in May, I’ve been meaning to go and check its afternoon tea. Finally got around to getting there last Sunday afternoon. It was a beautiful sunny, warm autumn day. Such a shame I had a bit of a hangover. It was a rather subdued afternoon tea as we’d all been out the night before celebrating a friend’s birthday. I took a stroll through part of the Imperial Palace area. Lots of people out and about enjoying the sunshine. (All photos taken on iPhone and not my SLR this time).

From Palace Hotel afternoon tea

Marunouchi CBD in the background.

From Palace Hotel afternoon tea
From Palace Hotel afternoon tea

The Palace Hotel:

From Palace Hotel afternoon tea
From Palace Hotel afternoon tea
From Palace Hotel afternoon tea
From Palace Hotel afternoon tea
From Palace Hotel afternoon tea
From Palace Hotel afternoon tea

They don’t take reservations on weekends for afternoon tea. Most unfortunate. They only take reservations on weekdays. We arrived at 2pm, and had to wait about 30minutes for a table. The Lounge was quite busy, and weddings were also going on in the hotel. We waited in the hotel lobby until a table was available. We finally got a table for our party of six. Afternoon tea is served in the Palace Lounge (lobby lounge).

From Palace Hotel afternoon tea

The hotel is very new and the interior is nice with lots of natural light. The new polished floors were a little slippery! Wasn’t a huge fan of the ergonomics of the decor. It’s one of those lounges with comfy soft chairs, but with coffee tables built way too low. The Afternoon tea set here is pretty good. It gets bonus points for creativity and it’s serving ware. I kind of like it when places don’t serve afternoon tea on 3-tier platters. This place serves its afternoon tea in a really cool way. Autumn place setting:

From Palace Hotel afternoon tea

The tea set includes unlimited tea of any variety. Yay. I think I tried four different kinds of tea!

From Palace Hotel afternoon tea

Loved the teaware!

From Palace Hotel afternoon tea
From Palace Hotel afternoon tea
From Palace Hotel afternoon tea

The tea selection is very decent. I was suitably impressed. My favourite of the day was a black tea blend called Trois Freres. A good strong tea best served with milk. The genmaicha was a nice tea to end with. Also had the English breakfast (not that good) and the light Ceylon tea which was too light. The way the afternoon tea is served here is really cool. No tiered platters…instead you get a lacquered wooden box! It kind of looks like a jewelery box with little drawers.

From Palace Hotel afternoon tea

Pretty neat, ay.

From Palace Hotel afternoon tea
From Palace Hotel afternoon tea
From Palace Hotel afternoon tea

Each drawer pulls out as an individual box of food, kind of like a bento. One of the slim drawers then serves as a plate.

From Palace Hotel afternoon tea

The top drawer contained the scone.

From Palace Hotel afternoon tea

The scone was pretty awesome. Definitely one of (possibly if not the best) scone I’ve had in Japan. It was definitely less ‘biscuity’ and more softer/fluffier on the inside. It was also square-shaped. I wish there had been two scones to a serve though. Scones should not however be served with honey and apricot jam. Where’s the regular strawberry jam?! And honey has no place on scones. Crumpets however are totally deserving of honey. Oh well. The savoury “drawer” was my favourite.

From Palace Hotel afternoon tea

Two portions each of sandwiches, quiche, pork rillette on baguette, and even inari sushi! The quiche was pretty divine. I thought the raisins and dried apricot was a nice touch. The dessert drawer was ok – an assortment of cakes and berries.

From Palace Hotel afternoon tea
From Palace Hotel afternoon tea
From Palace Hotel afternoon tea
From Palace Hotel afternoon tea
From Palace Hotel afternoon tea
From Palace Hotel afternoon tea
From Palace Hotel afternoon tea

And I always save the scone for last. Sadly, sans jam.

From Palace Hotel afternoon tea

Afternoon tea here is standard fare. Not the best and not the worst in Tokyo. Location is convenient though and the food is decent, as is the tea selection. The service however was ridiculously slow! Be prepared to wait 30minutes for each pot of tea. I am not exaggerating. Doesn’t help when the wait staff are shuffling about in kimonos – makes it awkward to carry trays and serve food etc. It is all very pretty though. Afternoon tea (includes unlimited tea) is 3800yen plus tax (about 4100yen). Menu can be viewed on their website.

Turkey travel diary: Afternoon tea in Istanbul – delightfully criminal.

Day 1 cont. (Post 2 of 3) I had just arrived in Istanbul, and after three airplane packaged meals and one free airport meal, I was in need of some real food. The first thing I did when I arrived in Turkey was do an afternoon tea. And yes, on.my.own. When I was in Cairo, Egypt last year, I did an afternoon tea there as well, at the Four Seasons hotel. I made a passing comment on this blog somewhere that I should do an afternoon tea at all the Four Seasons hotels around the world. What a great idea. I’m going to do just that! Henceforth, whenever I’m overseas, I’m going to find me a Four Seasons hotel to partake in afternoon tea at. I’ve already done Egypt, both the Four Seasons hotels in Tokyo, and I can now cross Istanbul, Turkey off the list. The next one will be in Bangkok, Thailand later on this year. I skipped all the million and one things I could have done as a tourist upon my arrival in Istanbul and instead headed straight for the Four Seasons hotel – only a few stars more than my current hostel lodgings! The previous post was merely just photos I took on my way to finding the hotel. I had until 6pm to get myself in before afternoon tea ended, and it was already nearing 5pm. I should mention that the coolest thing ever about the Four Seasons hotel in Istanbul (Sultanahmet district) is that it used to be an old jail during the Ottoman Empire! So cool, it’s positively criminal! The jail was revamped into a hotel back in the early 90s and only opened in 1996. (There is also another Four Seasons hotel in Istanbul on the Bosphorus side). I gotta admit, the hotel was really easy to find because it looked like a giant square fortress. They’ve done a great job of decking it out into an opulent hotel though. It’s colour too, very distinguishing – a Colonel Mustard hue. Due to the fact that it used to be a jail , the architecture of this hotel is very unique – four perimeter walls, an inner courtyard and watchguard turrets. It would be really cool to stay in a room there, sharing quarters where a criminal once lived. Huge novelty factor. In fact, Google Maps still lists the hotel as Sultanahmet Jail (Point A)! What a great venue to do afternoon tea – at a former prison, now a Four Seasons hotel.

From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul
From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul
From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul

Afternoon tea is in the lobby lounge which has 3 separate seating areas – Here:

From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul

Here:

From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul

And here:

From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul

I settled on the latter – a covered patio area. There was more natural light, garden views, and it’s where all the other people were seated. I’m sure the hotel staff thought that I was weird, sitting on my own ordering afternoon tea on a Saturday afternoon. Crazy lady, they probably thought, one of those people whom you’ll find dead in a house full of cats. Seriously, that won’t be me! (Thou doth protest too much I say). Here are some photos once inside the former-prison hotel.

From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul
From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul
From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul
From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul

On the menu were two offerings – traditional afternoon or Turkish tea set. It was tempting to opt for the Turkish one just for something different and a bit more local, but I wanted to stick with the traditional one. The scones won me over. I even splurged and went the Royal option, which included a glass of champagne sparkling wine. Hell, why not. I was on holidays after all. And I had a week of swimming ahead so I could indulge a little without the guilt. I was sure as hell I’d be burning it all off soon enough. I sat myself down and got settled in for an afternoon tea on my own.

From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul
From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul

The afternoon tea setting was very traditional, classic English rose. Very un-Turkish, but pretty nevertheless.

From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul

The huge pot of tea came complete with a tea candle warmer. Bless! That totally made my day.

From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul
From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul

The signature Four Seasons emblem/logo:

From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul
From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul
From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul

The afternoon tea set offered perfect portions for one. Three savoury morsels, four sweet treats, and a scone, with a huge pot of tea (enough for about 5 cups of tea). Tea selection was limited, but so long as they had English breakfast tea, I didn’t really care. Tea for One:

From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul
From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul

Savouries:

From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul
From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul

And sweets and scones:

From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul

First up on the menu was a turkey, tomato and gherkin sandwich. Eating turkey in Turkey. Check.

From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul

Followed by a Turkish bruschetta of sorts:

From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul

And smoked salmon and caper open finger sandwich:

From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul

And then onto the sweet stuff:

From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul

Here is the parade of the assorted cakes:

From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul
From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul
From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul
From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul

And I always save the scones for last.

From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul
From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul
From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul
From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul

A tea party for one. I’m such a loser!

From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul

On the wall behind me were some of the old prison locks. Pretty cool. If these walls could talk, ay. Imagine the secrets and crimes that these walls held.

From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul
From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul

Afternoon tea was very reasonable. Turkey is still a relatively cheap country to travel through. Not a part of the EU so you’re not subject to Euros. The Afternoon tea was only 40 Turkish lira (60 with the champagne).

From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul

I then took myself on a little tour of the hotel, as you do. It’s not a particularly tall building – only 3 or 4 levels high but I went and checked out the views from the Terrace Bar. This is definitely a nice spot to grab a drink. Views of the Blue Mosque, haghia Sophia and even water views of the Sea of Marmara.

From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul
From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul
From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul
From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul

Terrace Bar:

From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul
From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul

Surrounding fortress walls:

From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul

Views of some of Istanbul’s top tourist attractions:

From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul
From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul
From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul

Quite the luxurious hotel. Didn’t get to see the sleeping quarters, but it would be fun to stay a night there in an old jail! I imagine the rooms would be pretty plush.

From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul
From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul
From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul
From Four Seasons Tea Istanbul

Afternoon tea in Istanbul – accomplished.The one and only afternoon tea I did during my two-week holiday in Turkey. Had wanted to fit in one more at another venue, but alas, did not have time. I’m glad I prioritised it on my first day in Istanbul! A criminally delightful venue! Complete album link. Hotel details.

Bvlgari: Box Afternoon Tea Set

I wouldn’t know fashion if it slapped me across the face.. But I do know and love my food. On Sunday afternoon I found myself amongst the labels district in Ginza – the likes of Chanel, Coach, Cartier, and Louis Vuitton. This month’s afternoon tea was at Bvlgari. Ha, and you thought they only sold bags (or watches, or whatever it is that they sell)! This particular afternoon tea venue warranted in taking the SLR camera out for the day, so enjoy the glossy HD pics. My first preference for this month’s afternoon was at a hotel (they name of which will remain undisclosed at this point in time), but, alas, they were all booked out when I tried booking about two weeks ago. So back to the spreadsheet to find an alternative venue. I decided on Bvlgari. In addition to their fashion label, they own hotel, resorts and dining establishments around the world. They have a few different restaurants around Tokyo. I got confused and had originally made reservations for afternoon tea at the Bvlgari café in Omotesando. I realised that wasn’t what I wanted. And what I wanted was at Bvlgari il Bar in Ginza, so I asked to change my reservation. The afternoon tea at Bvlgari is at il Bar in Ginza (and not the café in Omotesando – counterintuitive, I know), so that’s where you’ll need to go. So I asked to switch my reservation venue. Now, il Bar does not take reservations, but they kindly let me do so on this occasion because I technically had an existing reservation. Bvlgari service – impressive. And it got better. On the main fashion label road in Ginza just down on the next corner from the Ginza Apple Store, you’ll find Bvlgari on the corner. Turn down the side street and there’s a separate entrance to gain access to the Bvlgari restaurant and Bar. We made our way to level 10 where you’ll find the Bar. Greeting service was excellent. And we were ushered to our (presumably Italian-leather) seats.

From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari

I had been really looking forward to the Afternoon Tea at Bvlgari. I had seen pictures and I was suitably impressed. The drawcard here is the presentation and gourmet food – Italian influenced. My favourite cuisine. The Afternoon Tea here isn’t served on three tiers. It’s served in little boxes. Way cool! Our reservation was for 2pm, so our little posse sat down to check out the menu,. We all got a bit worried because afternoon tea wasn’t on the menu! Oh no, had I mistaken the venue again? Should we have gone to the cafe in Omotesando? Was I at the wrong Bvlgari place? The only thing on the menu was brunch. We asked for the afternoon tea menu and discovered that afternoon tea doesn’t start until 3pm. Ahhh. Bvlgari exceptional service to the rescue again. They allowed us to order it early, and told us it would take about 25 minutes to prepare for the four of us. No problem at all. An opportune moment to order cocktails whilst we wait. Make that a Cosmopolitan.

From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari

Group photo with fellow gastronomads. (I would be the rather tanned-looking gal)

From Bvlgari

Not long after our cocktails were brought out, our Afternoon Tea boxes arrived. Wow. Speedy service. And the Afternoon Tea boxes were amazing! Ingenius. So clever and creative. And the food was divine. Gotta love the Italians for their love of food.

From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari

The first box was the savoury appetizers.

From Bvlgari

Delectable morsels of food. Totally sapid (my new word for the day).

From Bvlgari

Mini capsicum stuffed with a risotto, cheese wrapped in smoked salmon, a zucchini and Italian meat sandwich, pancetta and a mini hamburger was a great way to ease into the afternoon.

From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari

This mini hamburger was so tasty from such a tiny little thing. Anything miniature is cool. A fleck of gold to touch. It ain’t Italian without some bling!

From Bvlgari

The second box was like our own little bread box! With a scone, croissant, quiche and a biscotti.

From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari

Desserts – another delightful treasure chest of sweets.

From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari

There was the tiramisu macron…

From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari

Because it was difficult to take photos of the food inside the boxes, you’ll notice that I was balancing the food on the edge of the boxes. (Yep, unleashing the inner food stylist in me.) In the beautiful egg-shaped shot glass was a passionfruit and banana cream pannacotta with white chocolate on top. So smoothly delicious. And the remaining square was for the condiments. Cream and jam for the scone and croissant. A jam trolley was brought out to us, and we were able to choose our jams from a selection. – honey, apricot jam, strawberry jam, or chocolate. We were then handed a small bowl of our selected jam to complete the set.

From Bvlgari

Each of the four squares (boxes) make up one big square. Such playful presentation. Oh, and the boxes were stackable.

From Bvlgari

It made for one very crowded table.

From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari

The food was amazing. Uber delicious. Beautifully portioned and presented. Belissimo. There is a nice selection of teas and coffees to choose from. I was suitably impressed by the selection – the usual favourites made their appearance (Afternoon tea blend, Assam, Darjeeling, herbal teas) along with some unusual blends too. Or coffee/hot chocolate if you prefer. I chose the Imperial Orange Pekoe Tea (which is a type of Ceylon UVA blend, I think).

From Bvlgari

No room on the table for our teapots so they had them lined up on a counter. The teapots offered quite the generous serving, which they will top up with hot water refills. (No tea sampling, but that was fine by me.) Tea supplier if you’re interested was Qi Botanical (Canada).

From Bvlgari

Oversized tea strainer…loved it.

From Bvlgari

The one flaw, the only flaw that caught my discerning eye was the packet sugar. They went to such lengths in quality everywhere else but the sugar must have been overlooked. They plonked down a container of packet sugar. You’d think they’d use sugar cubes or sugar granules. I don’t take sugar with my tea but still this was a small detail which stood out (in my eyes) amongst the decadence of everything else. (There’s a photo in the slideshow below). Can’t forget the obligatory photo of the scone with jam and cream.

From Bvlgari

The thing I saved for last was the Bvlgari Bvlgari signature chocolate token. Made with shochu and matsutake (a famous Japanese mushroom…I guess kinda like a truffle perhaps). It was super rich. I struggled to get through it. This single chocolate alone sells for about 1000yen (around 10buks).

From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari

The Afternoon Tea Box Set at il Bar (Bvlgari in Ginza) is superbly priced for excellent quality food and impressive service at 3600yen. (A champagne option is also available at champagne prices). Cocktails ranged from 1500-2500 yen. Generous serves. A great place for a leisurely decadent afternoon tea. We spent about 4 hours here. Let’s just say that the Bvlgari Box Afternoon Tea Set ticked all my boxes – great location (the heart of Ginza), delicious food (compliments to the chef), wonderful services (super attentive, polite, all English speaking too right down from the email reservation to even taking our orders and explaining the dishes in English – really considerate gesture even though they didn’t need to. There were 2 Japanese amongst us, plus me (Japanese competent)), and exceptional value. They totally deserved the little inadequate thank-you email I sent them. Here are some photos of the atmosphere and decor at il Bar. Even though it’s a Bar, by day it functions more as a cafe-lounge. They do a Brunch Box Set which I am also keen to try. It was crowded pretty much the whole time we were there. I took most of these photos once a lot of people had left. At night, it’s more a bar. They do drinks, cocktails, as well as dinner.

From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari

View over Ginza….

From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari

Glasses (one of every shape) on the Bar counter. I thought this was cool.

From Bvlgari

They don’t take reservations at il Bar….so good luck in getting a spot. Afternoon tea menu is from 3pm – 6pm. Brunch available during the daytime. On the floor below is the Bvlgari il ristorante. Impressive. Here are some shots looking down into the dining area from the Bar.

From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari

The Bvlgari building in Ginza – shop on street level.

From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari
From Bvlgari

Bvlgari Tokyo restaurants website can be found here. Afternoon Tea is offered at il Bar. You can download the menu sample there. If the il Bar Afternoon Tea Box set is too much, you can try the smaller version at their cafe in Omotesando. It consists of one of the small box squares only rather than the full set. It includes tea and coffee. Don’t get confused between the Ginza and the Omotesando venues. You can read the Bvlgari il Bar reviews on Tabelog as well (Japanese). Bvlgari il Bar in Ginza is in the heart of Ginza. Closest station exit is Ginza subway line, Ginza station – exit 12. It’s right next door to the Matsuya department store, opposite Chanel. From il Bar, we could see across into the Chanel restaurant. Who knew that all these high fashion labels did food as well. That restaurant looked fancy too. My tagline for this afternoon tea would be: “Bvlgari Afternoon Tea: Food over Fashion.” Really, I must stop outdoing myself on finding outstanding places to do afternoon tea in Tokyo. Enjoy the complete photo slideshow.

(Marunouchi) Four Seasons in one day: Best afternoon tea in Tokyo

I died and went to high tea heaven! On Earth, they call it the Four Seasons. I’ve done afternoon tea before at the Four Seasons in Cairo, Egypt. Was a totally different experience to the one I just experienced in Tokyo. Wouldn’t it be great to try afternoon tea all around the world at the Four Seasons hotel! There are two Four Seasons Hotel in Tokyo. One at Marunouchi (Tokyo station) and another at Chinzan-so. I’ve been wanting to do a man-ly afternoon tea for a while now, that is, an afternoon tea with some guys, what I like to call “Masculini-Tea”. Typically afternoon tea is viewed as a girly thing to do, but really, it’s something that can be enjoyed by guys too.

I decided to organize a tea event with my team from work. In my little department at work, there are four of us, plus our manager. I am the only female. We had originally planned for our get-together as a little bonenkai last December, but ended up postponing it to a shinnenkai. One of our team members couldn’t make it. In addition to the 4 of us, the EA to the MP came along (just for a pot of tea before heading off early) and a former employee. My work colleagues are awesome for agreeing to do an afternoon tea. I thought there would be resistance, but there were totally up for it, and I dare say, even excited about. I decided on the Four Seasons at Marunouchi for a few reasons. It was close to where we work, so everyone could get there using their teiki and hopefully not get lost getting there, also it was a venue which I thought would be the most appropriate for guys (no florally china, no three-tired platters etc), and we also happened to get a discount of 25% (a special offer to employees at our law firm).

Move over the Peninsula, I think this might be the best place to do afternoon tea in Tokyo. The food here was pretty darn good! So gourmet, so delectable and filling! It was more like an amuse bouche degustation. I was so excited to be there. I had been looking forward to this one for ages. Let me start from the beginning. The afternoon tea takes place at the Ekki Bar and Grill. Reservations highly recommended. The place was pretty much booked out.

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

The set on offer was the Winter Afternoon Set. I got mine with the glass of champagne.

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea
From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

Then our platters of food were brought out to us. There was so much food. What I loved about it here, is that they do a very modern take on afternoon tea. Here you won’t find a traditional afternoon tea. There are no sandwiches and no three-tiered platters. Instead there is an assortment of delightful, delicious savoury goodies which are brought out to us on trays and plates. Let me take on you the culinary journey that is afternoon tea at the Four Seasons. Feast your eyes on this:

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea
From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea
From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea
From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea
From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

There was the mini Wagyu burger (wagyu – need I see more. It did lack a little something though):

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

Delicious melted cheese and ham toasted panfried sandwich with truffle oil (yummy):

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

The snow crab croquette which was scrumdidilyumptious. A shame it was so small. :

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

Mini salmon tart. So good. Again, it was a shame it was that small.

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

The teriyaki chicken wrap (was a little bland):

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

These savoury treats kicked arse over regular cucumber and salmon sandwiches anyday!

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea
From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

Already starting to get full, there were the sweets to get through. An amazing assortment of sweet treats on offer.

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea
From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea
From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

There was the pistachio macaroon:

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea
From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

A sweet called the White Dome:

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

Fruitcake:

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

The cassis marshmallow:

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

Panna cotta:

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

And churros (whoever would have thought churros for afternoon tea. Not sure how Victorian royalty would feel about that. But how awesome are churros. Anything deep fried and coated in sugar is a definite winner). There was even a dip for the churros!:

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

Total bliss:

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

I do have to admit though, that the sweets probably looked better than they tasted, but all still very edible and filling. At some point during all this eating and indulgence, they also brought the scones out. These are served separately, and come out warm. There were 2 different types of scones, served clotted cream, and our individual strawberry jam jars. Surprisingly, a lot of afternoon tea venues I’ve been to don’t serve strawberry jam. They serve other jams like raspberry or cherry and I am always disappointed. Strawberry jam is the BEST, so I was in my element here. The strawberry jam had real whole strawberries in it. Everything here was pretty amazing. The ultimate place for afternoon tea.

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea
From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea
From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea
From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

It was a struggle to get through this feast. Another huge bonus point here is the very impressive tea selection. Most tea venues will offer about 6-10 different teas. Here there are a whopping 23 teas to choose from, as well as coffees and hot chocolates – all of which you can try as many different beverages as you like, and as much as you like. I went through 3 pots of tea and a hot chocolate. The teas were very standard in taste, but the variety on offer was commendable. I had my regular favourites – Assam and English Breakfast tea.

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea
From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

Also ordered the hot chocolate made with 66% cocoa -perfect because it wasn’t too sweet. Just enough bitterness. The hot chocolate is served with “condiments” which turned out to be a mini platter of marshmallows, chocolate curl balls and cream.

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea
From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea
From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea
From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

A pot of tea on its own (without ordering the afternoon tea) will set you back 1500yen which is steep. It is definitely worthwhile to get the afternoon tea set. The teapots hold generous servings of tea – 3 cups per pot. And the pot are tea plungers, which are really cool. No need for the strainer. Check out the very extensive tea and beverage menu here (all nomihoudai). There is a tea to please everyone – black teas, chinese tea, Japanese tea, herbal teas, iced teas, and coffees as well. I do love how they also list who their tea suppliers are:

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea
From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

Ended the afternoon with lemongrass and peppermint tea. I have recently discovered lemongrass tea and I love it. It’s hard to buy in Japan though. The only problem with peppermint tea blends, is that the peppermint is always so overpowering and drowns out all the other flavours. Still, a nice tea to cap off the afternoon, and aid digestion.

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

Exotic honeys from Hungary and France too, to sweeten the herbal teas or served on scones. (we had to ask what these were):

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

I really liked the detail in the sugar cube arrangement (like a chess board):

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

On the seventh floor of the building, it offers views but not very exciting scenery. It mostly looks over the maze that is Tokyo station and the railtracks below, and nearby office building towers.

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea
From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea
From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

The interior is pleasant enough. Modern, clean. Full of ladies, apart from our table of men. It’s a shame that the afternoon tea takes place in a main dining restaurant rather than a nice lounge with plush comfortable sofas. However the design is simple, contemporary and sophisticated unlike other Four Seasons’ hotels which can be extremely ornate and traditional.

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea
From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea
From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea
From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

Service here was very good, although you do have to constantly flag them down. Winter afternoon tea menu:

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

Price for afternoon tea at Ekki is 3900yen. With champagne it is 4900yen. 10% service charge will be added as well. With a 25% discount though, this made it excellent value. For about 4000yen, I had all that gourmet food, plus a glass of champagne plus as much tea and hot drinks as I liked. Excellent value, even without the discount. Well worth paying for and definitely one of the better afternoon teas available in Tokyo. Another bonus here, is that being the Four Seasons hotel, they change their afternoon menu every season, with some of the treats being a staple all-year round! It looks like I might have to make it a thing to visit in every season. I am pretty sure the mini wagyu burger though is standard all year round though. They also offer limited afternoon tea for special occasions such as Valentines’ Day and Christmas. I checked out their upcoming Valentines afternoon tea – it includes a lot more chocolate and strawberries and even chocolate fondue! Will also have to try the Four Seasons afternoon tea at Chinzan-so. From what I can gather, it is more traditional. Floral teaware, 3-tiered platters. Whilst the Marunouchi hotel has a more modern Western feel, the Chinzan-so is more Japanese and traditional. I’ve heard there’s a garden there too. This place perhaps tops all the other venues in Tokyo for afternoon tea. It definitely wins, in terms of food quality, originality and creativity, value, and extensive tea selection. Will perhaps need to re-visit my ranking sheet and re-assess. For now, it is definitely in the top 5 afternoon tea venues in Tokyo. Seating session is 2.5hours, but I didn’t see people getting ushered out at 5pm on the dot. I found that 2.5 hours was just perfect though, because everything was so satisfying and so filling. My work colleagues were awesome sports for partaking in afternoon tea. It was nice to spend a cold winter’s afternoon together. I think they enjoyed it. After all that food, I was glad I had arrived on an empty stomach and had swum 2km that morning to appreciate it all.

From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea
From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea
From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea
From Four Seasons, Marunouchi: Afternoon Tea

Four Seasons at Marunouchi afternoon tea at Ekki Bar and Grill. Details at their website.