Whether you’re entertaining visitors or simply crave a luxurious afternoon with the girls, high tea is always a fun treat. Here, we’ve rounded up some of the top teas to try across town. Pinkies up!
Teatime: The Royal Heritage Afternoon Tea is served from 2pm to 5pm daily.
Set in a relaxed atmosphere, complete with a pianist, the Royal Heritage Afternoon Tea ($42, or $56 with a cocktail) offers an array of delectable confections alongside over 20 different TWG teas, including an in-house InterContinental Singapore heritage tea. And it begins with a TWG iced tea mocktail to cool you off.
Best bites: It was hard to choose from the three tiers of delights that arrived, and the lovely combinations of flavours. From smoked chicken and tomato sandwiches to bacon and spinach mini-quiche, and desserts like lychee macarons with raspberry and Valrhona Guanaja chocolate cake, everything was impressive. Perhaps my favourite was the Norwegian smoked salmon crostini with horseradish cream, onion and dill. We had a choice of lemon or raisin scones with jam and clotted cream, and the more unusual but adorable coffee scones were a hit when topped with mascarpone. Last, but not least, don’t miss the Crêpe Suzette with vanilla ice cream; we sampled this with the TWG Lemon Bush Tea, which was divine.
Psst! The InterContinental also offers “Not-An-Afternoon-Tea” ($42), which is a lovely coffee-themed alternative to the English tea set, with coffee-infused pastries and coffee-based mocktails (and a cocktail option for $56).
– Jacqui Young
Teatime: Daily from 2.30pm to 5pm
It’s safe to say that The Westin’s afternoon tea on level 32 is the highest in Singapore, with gorgeous views of Sentosa and across the Straits. And with seafood playing a big part on the menu, it could be the safest for the waistline, too.
The food comes in three courses, the first a three-tiered set of seafood treats including Alaskan king crab with garlic butter, crumbed oyster, salmon sushi and a scallop. The second is a platter with a whole poached Canadian lobster and two freshly shucked oysters with three toppings. We had held off on eating since breakfast and were ravenous when we arrived – but there was more than enough food to sate our appetites.
The delicate seafood is appropriately paired with Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label Champagne, and at a price that’s surprisingly easy on the purse. It’s $85 for two, with a glass of bubbles, or $130 for two, with a bottle. So, rather than tea or coffee, bubbly is the drink of choice, although we did finish with a cappuccino and a flat white coffee. These hot beverages were great accompaniments to the generous dessert platter, whose highlights included salted caramel chocolate, choux pastry, a chilled cheese cake and chunks of chocolate. After the seafood, though, there was no temptation to overdo it.
According to The Westin’s website, this is a time to relax and forget about things for a while, and we did just that – happily ensconced in five-star paradise for a few precious hours.
Best bites: The scallop on shell with micro-greens, and the lemon curd tartlet
Psst! Snag a seat by the window for fabulous sea views, and do make a reservation, as seating for this rather exclusive tea (at such great value) is in demand.
– Katie Roberts
Teatime: 2pm to 6pm daily
Located on the ground floor of the Pan Pacific, Atrium’s grand seating pods floating over water make for a dramatic first impression. Famous for having the longest bar in Asia (44 metres!), the vibe here is relaxed and elegant.
It’s all about “East meets West” with Atrium presenting two different afternoon tea offerings, Peranakan and English – and we had the opportunity to try both. Each offers an impressive drinks selection with the requisite bubbles, and a variety of tea with different origins served in stunning black-and-white china.
As we weren’t familiar with Peranakan cuisine, this afternoon tea was a great introduction to a vast array of treats. The exotic blending of flavours of the Straits Chinese and Malay cuisines that defines Peranakan food is unique to this part of Asia, and well represented in each of the dishes on offer at Atrium. Served in traditional tiffin carriers (small tin dishes delicately painted with flowers), each little dish prompted excited conversation about its different textures and flavours, making this a fun experience. Favourites were the colourful, gelatinous rainbow kueh layer cake (for its appearance more than its taste), and the apam balik, a light and fluffy pancake with a creamy peanut filling. The highlight, though, was a dish that we were surprised to find in an afternoon tea: Nyonya chicken curry. This mild curry with tumeric, cumin and galangal flavours was so more-ish, and a nice alternative to the sweet coconut and cakes.
We had high expectations for the English afternoon tea, as my companion was an Englishman! The tea set contained all of the elements you would expect, but with surprising twists. Brightly coloured, savoury sandwiches – green for cucumber, charcoal for smoked salmon – were delicious. The presentation was faultless, with treats piled high on three levels of black and silver trays. The scone with jam and cream wasn’t quite up to the ones at home; the macaron, however, with its creamy cherry centre and crunch, was one of the best I’ve ever tasted.
Each afternoon tea option is $38, inclusive of coffee and tea; top up to $58 for a glass of Laurent Perrier Champagne, or $68 for a glass of Laurent Perrier Rosé Champagne.
Best bite: The dish of the day had to be the English set’s miniature lemon meringue pie; beautifully presented, light, gooey, sweet and tangy. We could have eaten a tray-full of these!
Psst! Try to reserve a seating pod that faces away from the main entrance for added privacy.
– Amanda Broad
Teatime: 3pm to 5.30pm daily
The entire afternoon tea experience at The Tiffin Room was everything I wanted it to be: evocative colonial setting, check; stiff white tablecloths and heavy, solid cutlery, check; a champagne option, check; a range of teas that would impress my granny, check; and treats and eats that included the humble yet mighty egg mayonnaise finger sandwich, check!
There’s plenty to choose from here – from the assorted English finger-sandwiches on the bottom tier of the classic silver tea-tray, to the English cake tier displaying stodgier bites like banana crumble and orange ginger cake, and, rounding off the top tier, the naughtiest stars: strawberry pistachio tartlet and chocolate praline cake. All this and more comes before you’ve even tackled the buffet of warm scones (plain, raisin and “scone of the day”) and savoury offerings in the form of dim sum, chicken curry pie and the Raffles croque monsieur with grain mustard.
This is a lovely high tea ($62 per adult, $30 per child) for a special occasion, and it actually wasn’t rammed with tourists like you might expect. While this is one smart place, it doesn’t feel at all pretentious. It was great to see my favourite Billecart-Salmon Brut Réserve Champagne, too. (A glass of champagne can be added for $26, or $48 for two glasses; or order a Singapore Sling with your tea treats for $21.)
Best bite: It’s almost impossible to choose a single best bite, but if I have to, it’s the classic scone, served warm with lashings of clotted cream and strawberry jam, washed down with a pot of Earl Grey tea.
Psst! True to its old-school style, there’s a dress code here: smart casual. Pool attire, blue jeans, flip-flops, shorts and baseball caps are no-nos. Men should wear collared shirts, long trousers and close-toed shoes. Quite right!
– Emily Finch
Teatime: The Eight-course Weekday Afternoon Tea ($49, $58 with a champagne cocktail) is available Monday to Friday from 2.30pm to 5pm; there’s also a Weekend Afternoon Tea Buffet ($58) at the same times on Saturday and Sunday.
It all starts with a refreshing, cold tea mocktail served with sambal chilli dip and crackers, as you sit down in the beautiful Chihuly Lounge, named after American glass sculptor Dale Chihuly, whose works adorn the walls. Choose from over 25 blends of teas, from blacks and greens to fruit-infused and herbal blends; we liked the Wild Cherries black tea and the floral-tasting Granny’s Garden blend.
Next came delicious roast beef tenderloin with black truffle crust and gravy (alternated weekly with poached salmon with truffle herb sauce), followed by the tiered stand full of sweet and savoury treats: plain and raisin scones with cream, yummy mango passion tarts, chocolate éclairs, strawberry cream cheese rolls, fabulous salted caramel macarons, plus Scottish smoked salmon, spinach and orange fennel on a delish pumpernickel cracker, smoked chicken sandwiches with semi-dried tomatoes, and cucumber, avocado and cream cheese sandwiches.
As if that weren’t enough, there was yet another course – actually a few more. We enjoyed berries with Bora-Bora vanilla ice cream (very tasty!) and cleansed our palates with lime sorbet, before the very last indulgence of the day: chocolate truffles, tea cakes, cookies and pralines. We chose a selection from the trolley that was wheeled over to our table, and went nuts over the rich chocolate-vanilla truffle.
Best bite: We could have eaten a million of the salted caramel macarons.
Psst! If you decide to add a champagne cocktail to your afternoon tea experience, I’d strongly recommend the deliciously peachy Bellini!
– Amy Greenburg
Teatime: The Weekend High Tea Buffet is offered on Saturday and Sunday from 12 noon to 2.30pm, and 3pm to 5.30pm
Located on the lobby level of the Regent, the Tea Lounge is tastefully designed with elegant décor and a grand piano with a pianist who manages to keep the mood lively yet relaxed.
For $61, the Weekend High Tea Buffet includes freshly brewed coffee, hot or cold chocolate and a marvellous selection of fine teas. (It’s $72 with a glass of Prosecco, or $82 with a glass of champagne.) Taking care not to over-indulge on caffeine, I started with vanilla rooibos, a caffeine-free red bush tea with the sweet flavour of vanilla beans – no need to sweeten this cuppa. My husband opted for the lapsang souchong, light on the palate with a smooth, smoky flavour.
To the food, and there’s a selection of British, Japanese and local flavours including chilli crab, satay and dim sum, to name a few. There are plenty of healthy options too – my favourite was the Thai asparagus salad with goji berries and sesame dressing. The sandwiches are delicately presented, with the cucumber and egg mimosa sandwich definitely topping the charts in the savoury department. As for sweets, there are so many to choose from and something for everyone.
There’s also a Three-tier Afternoon Tea on weekdays, from 12 noon to 5pm – it’s $45 per adult, or $66 with a glass of champagne, and $22.50 for children aged five to 12.
Best bite: By far the best scones in town – I’m sure of it! We could barely sit still once we discovered these irresistible treats, served with lashings of clotted cream and homemade cassis violet jam.
Psst! This is a great place to go to for a birthday – the staff makes sure you don’t go unnoticed as they come out singing with a slice of cake (complete with candle), while the pianist strikes up the “Happy Birthday” tune.
– Valmai Dhir
Teatime: 3pm to 5pm Monday to Thursday; 12 noon to 2pm, and 3pm to 5pm Friday to Sunday, and public holidays
Situated on the ground floor of the Fairmont Singapore, Anti:dote’s lounge-bar environment and chic décor make it an elegant spot for afternoon tea ($48). To start, we were offered a choice of two hot appetisers: black truffle scrambled eggs or chawanmushi with sea urchin and salmon roe. Both were beautifully presented in egg shells on a pebble bed, and both were delicious.
The main tea spread was presented in a white-and-gold leather-clad jewellery box, each layer offering a different culinary treat. The savoury selection of petite sandwiches and pastries included duck rillettes, foie gras terrine on puff pastry, Boston lobster roll and, my favourite, a mini lamb shepherd’s pie. The next layer contained warm scones and hot cross buns accompanied by homemade jam, Devonshire clotted cream and lemon curd. The third layer held a selection of mini-desserts and chocolates. We particularly enjoyed the pistachio choux, the mini green tea chestnut cupcake and the gorgeous praline chocolates.
Anti:dote offers a choice of ten TWG teas ranging from black and green varieties to white and theine-free options. We loved the Jade Cascade Tea and the Pink Flamingo Tea – both served in beautiful fine china.
They also offer a children’s tea set from $15, including such classics as peanut butter and jelly or egg mayonnaise sandwiches, hot chocolate and chocolate-dipped strawberries.
Best bite: An oldie but a goodie, the warm raisin scones were the best I’ve eaten – soft and buttery, and the inclusion of lemon curd to accompany the clotted cream was inspired.
– Katie Peace
Teatime: Daily from 10.30am to 6pm
A nice spot for a quiet catch-up and an opportunity to visit the interesting Capitol Theatre building, Kaiserhaus offers a well-priced afternoon tea for two to share, at just $28. There’s a good selection of teas available, from fruit to herbal to traditional blends. Coffee is also on offer, including decaf, which isn’t available everywhere.
The high tea includes two slices of zaunerstollen – a nougat praline mixture with wafers, hazelnuts and chocolate, a slice of homemade cake, some rye bread sandwiches and pastries like kipferl, a crescent-shaped puff pastry with marzipan crumbles, and nussschnecke (or “nut swirl”), a rolled puff pastry filled with nuts and glazed with fondant chocolate. Just be sure you like nuts before visiting, as the traditional cakes and pastries all contain them.
Best bites: Our favourites were the kipferl and nussschnecke pastries.
– Katharine Allaway
This article first appeared in the June 2016 edition of Expat Living magazine Subscribe. There’s are other restaurant reviews to discover in our Wine & Dine section.