Sipping tea, a wonderfully relaxing pursuit all on its own, is heightened with a bite of delicate cake, buttery scone and perhaps, when the teapot is empty, even a glass of champagne. Steeped in tradition, the Chinese consumed tea primarily for its medicinal properties long before Westerners regarded tea as an aristocratic beverage. Nowadays Earl Grey, green tea, custom herbal infusions and even spicy chocolate chai are savoured and shared in posh hotels throughout the world, inspiring Henry James to muse, in The Portrait of a Lady, “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” Indulge in this culinary luxury at these exquisite tea rooms.
The Lalu, Sun Moon Lake (Yuchi, Taiwan)
Tea and tranquility
Considered the most exclusive property in Taiwan, The Lalu has reinvented itself from the summer getaway of presidents and princes to a Zen-style six-star hotel. Set amongst the beautiful scenery of the mystical lake and blooming water lilies, the Tea House at The Lalu specializes in dim sum and a range of Formosa Oolongs, considered some of the world’s rarest and most delightful cups of tea.
Ceylon Tea Trails in Hatton, Sri Lanka
Luxe amidst working tea estate
For those with a yearning to learn where their daily cup comes from, Ceylon Tea Trails is both an exquisite resort and education centre. High in the hills that rise above the town of Hatton in the Bogawantalawa Valley is a cluster of four bungalows formerly occupied by plantation owners. Each is staffed with a private butler. A resident tea master demonstrates the ages-old tea-making process: planting, leaf plucking, and artisanal processing. With tea-infused cuisine, tea-based spa treatments, afternoon tea and trails that traverse the tea-blanketed hills, one can literally get lost in tea.
The Fairmont Empress in Victoria, Canada
Step into history
Decorated with splendid chintz fabrics, hand-carved tables and stylish wing back chairs, the opulent tea lobby of this turn-of-the-century hotel has welcomed royalty, celebrities and tourists for generations. High Tea is a regal affair served on elegant William Edwards fine bone china. Try Madame Butterfly Jasmine Green, a loose tea handpicked from the Fujian Province of China, or The Empress’ exclusive aromatic blend poured from sterling silver service.
Trump Turnberry Resort in Turnberry Ayrshire, Scotland
Refinement overlooking rugged coast
Within Scotland’s iconic Turnberry Resort awaits the exquisite Grand Tea Lounge. With unrivalled views across the Irish Sea towards the Ailsa Craig and the Isle of Arran, this opulent Edwardian country house offers a serene yet decadent environment to indulge in finger sandwiches, Viennese bridge rolls and assorted pastries. Tea sommeliers guide guests through an extensive selection of Twinings finest, served using a samovar, a traditional hot water dispenser.
Claridge’s in London, England
A royal classic
Jam first or cream? Waiters dressed in tails suggest it is the cream that touch the scone first followed by a teaspoon of their tea-infused Marco Pollo jelly. Having served tea for the better part of 125 years, they’re some of Britain’s reputed authorities on this royal tradition. Set in the splendor of the refurbished Foyer & Reading Room, tea is poured from polished silver teapots into gold-rimmed china. The carefully curated selection of teas is sourced from some of the world’s oldest tea plantations and includes signatures like the Iron Goddess of Mercy Oolong and prized rarities like Malawai Antler, made from the shoots of the tea plant.
TWG Tea Salon in the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore
Journey of discovery
Worth $6-billion, the hotel is the world’s most expensive building. This is the irresistible setting for TWG Tea Salon, perched on a wide bridge atop a canal where sampans glide, reminiscent of Singapore’s trade in the finest teas and spices. With hundreds of unique blends, tea-inspired pastries and 24 tea-infused ice creams, tea connoisseurs can while away the day on an enticing journey of discovery.
Shilla Hotel in Seoul, Korea
Sumptuous lounge offers luxurious seclusion
With a menu tenderly crafted by Carolyn Robb, former chef to TRH Prince Charles and Princess Diana, guests can anticipate a royal tea experience within the library of Korea’s most luxurious hotel. Live jazz enhances the rich ambience as guests partake from a three-tiered stand comprised of warmed scones at its base and strawberry tartlets and pistachio eclairs at the pinnacle.
Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel in Capetown, South Africa
Old world ambiance
Few experiences can compare to the legendary ambience of enjoying High Tea at the elegant Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel. Scenically located at the foot of Table Mountain, tea is served in the lounge, on the terrace or fountainside on the lawn. Expert waiters dressed in gray morning suits guide patrons in their choice of over 30 tea varieties including Rooibos, for which South Africa is famous, or their signature house brand blended from Darjeeling, Kenyan, Assam Keemun, Yunnan, Ceylon and rose petals from their garden.
Le Royal Monceau’s Raffles in Paris, France
Parisian tea party
As one would expect from Paris’ most glamorous Palace hotel, afternoon tea at Raffles Paris is anything but predictable. Served in its Le Bar Long, designed by Philippe Starck, the dramatic space is framed by substantial white linen curtains, works of art and a cascade of sparkling chandeliers. Pastries by world-renowned Pierre Hermé reward the palate beside chocolate bonbons and colorful macaroons.
Danesfield House in Buckinghamshire, UK
Romantic manor steeped in storied past
Fragrant stems of lavender stretch across the garden as guests of this magnificent country house stroll past magnolia trees and lichen-covered stone steps. Nestled between the fashionable and picturesque towns of Marlow and Henley-on-Thames, the romantic renaissance-style manor has welcomed dignitaries and celebrities alike, most recently newlyweds George and Amal Clooney. Afternoon sweets are served with a glass of champagne or a loose leaf JING tea such as White Peony, with a refreshingly sweet flavor.