Happy tiers: The best places for high tea to while away the afternoon
As Bruno Mars would say: Put your pinkie rings up... We’re pouring the secrets of our favourite afternoon teas.
Call it a remnant of our colonial past, but high tea is serious business in fast-paced Singapore where the ability to sit and sip a hot drink in the middle of the afternoon is a luxury itself. What could be more satisfying than a decadent afternoon tea spent leisurely with friends?
The typically three-tier affair often involves freshly baked scones, delicate nuggets of sweets, and perfectly cut finger sandwiches served in a swish hotel dining room. This being Singapore, where the approach to any meal is a maximalist one, teatime is also an excuse to graze at a decadent buffet that in any other country would pass as a grand dinner.
So here’s our list of excellent high tea options, where you can choose to knock back champagne instead of tea and eat as simply or grandly as you please. The important thing is that it all happens over a languid afternoon.
BLACK AND GOLD AFTERNOON TEA AT MANDARIN ORIENTAL’S MO BAR
To celebrate MO Bar’s first anniversary, its high tea is going "black and gold" till the end of October. In keeping with the theme, the culinary offerings reflect the bar’s contemporary interior, so you’ll get the likes of a golden tin filled with spheres of coffee, cured and smoked kingfish on a crisp seaweed cracker, and freshly baked black sesame scones.
Desserts are equally elegant – think chocolate pralines and dark chocolate tarts. Available daily and priced from S$48 per person and S$88 for two people.
CHIHULY AFTERNOON TEA AT THE RITZ-CARLTON MILLENIA SINGAPORE
Weekday indulgences don’t get better than an eight-course afternoon tea. At this ravishing lounge named after the American glass artist Dale Chihuly – whose mesmerisingly squiggly glass sculptures dot the hotel – teatime kicks off with a refreshing tea mocktail served with crackers and XO sambal dip.
Guests then take their pick of Ronnefeldt teas, which are served on elegant French Bernardaud porcelain. A trolley bearing slow-cooked beef short ribs with truffle sauce or maple-glazed bacon wrapped around chicken ballotine is rolled to the table, before a three-tier spread of scones, sandwiches and pastries are set down.
All that before sweets like the Chihuly Vacherin, an assemblage of lime jelly, mango, pandan ice cream and coconut flakes, end your lavish afternoon meal.
Available on weekdays from S$49 per person.
DIOR AND RUINART ROSE PRESENT: AN AFTERNOON TEA FOR THE SENSES AT THE ST REGIS SINGAPORE
These are exceptional afternoon soirees designed to showcase the floral charms of Joy by Dior Parfums and Ruinart Rose. Guests are greeted by a champagne sabering upon entering The St Regis Singapore’s Drawing Room and then it’s off to the tables to enjoy an array of sweets and savouries designed to complement the champagne and perfume.
Two-tier tea stands bear the likes of rose bavarois with gula Melaka cream on a raspberry tart, strawberry eclairs and lobster mayonnaise sandwiches. Scones and chocolate-covered madeleines get passed around before the experience ends with a plated dessert of vanilla and rhubarb vacharin.
Available daily until November 30 at S$78 per person.
FLORAL WEEKEND AFTERNOON TEA AT FOUR SEASONS’ ONE-NINETY BAR
Settle into the deep sofas of this tropically appointed bar at the Four Seasons and time immediately slows, at least for the afternoon. Teatime treats like scones and brown sugar shortbread are baked to order in ovens set close to the dining room, perfuming the space with their sweet aroma.
But before these delights are brought to the low-slung tables, mannered service staff set down a tray of dainty finger sandwiches filled with the likes of forest mushroom and spiced carrots and cucumbers. The warm lavender scones and freshly baked shortbread are served with homemade strawberry-rose preserve and a hearty dollop of clotted cream, before the desserts that give this Floral Weekend Afternoon Tea its name make their appearance.
Delicate morsels of yuzu elderflower meringue tart, candied violet macarons, and sakura blossom puffs complete the experience, along with your choice of floral teas or a glass of champagne.
Available on weekends from S$46 per person.
HIGH TEA BUFFET AT THE REGENT SINGAPORE
The Regent Singapore’s Tea Lounge is serving a Barcelona-themed tea set from now until Dec 1. Why wait till the sun sets to nibble on the likes of freshly sliced jamon, tapas and Spanish cheeses while sipping on chilled sangria? All that and the likes of milk-cooked salted bacalao mousse in spinach cannelloni, grilled pork chorizo quiche, and pastor cheese scones are served as part of a three-tier set on weekdays.
On weekends, the high tea buffet features a carving station with cava-marinated wagyu rump, as well as some hearty squid ink paella with tiger prawns. As for the dessert selection, expect goat cheese tarts, creme Catalan shooters and chocolate salami.
S$45 per person on weekdays and S$65 on weekends.
HIGH TEA AT THE SHANGRI-LA’S ROSE VERANDA
This stalwart at Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore, has been serving high tea since 1991. At this handsome dining room with lovely views of the hotel’s swimming pool and verdant tropical garden, guests can choose from a high tea buffet or a three-tiered afternoon tea set.
Roast beef and warm scones, sushi and sashimi, laksa and truffle mushroom quiches are but some of the delights on offer, along with a collection of more than 40 teas.
The three-tier afternoon tea set is available on weekdays at S$38 per person, while the high tea buffet is available daily from S$56 per person.
HUNGARIAN SWEETS AFTERNOON TEA AT THE LANDING POINT, THE FULLERTON BAY HOTEL
Cognac cherry bon bons and Hungarian dobos tortes are but some of Hungary’s well-known confections, many made famous by the country’s legendary Cafe Gerbeaud. Until October 31, get a taste of them at The Fullerton Bay Hotel’s The Landing Point where Cafe Gerbeaud pastry chef Robert Martha will be serving its vaunted signatures.
The star of this afternoon tea promotion is Emil Gerbeaud’s Legacy, a rich confection layered with chocolate and almond marzipan sponge, cognac cherry and chocolate mousse, and smooth dark chocolate. The Gerbeaud creations will be served alongside The Landing Point’s selection of savoury treats, including Boston lobster cornets and smoked salmon millefeuille with caviar tartlets.
From S$50 per person.
LIMITLESS D9 SATURDAY HIGH TEA BUFFET AT HILTON SINGAPORE
The buffet menu at this popular teatime spot changes every three months, so guests always come back to something special. From now till the end of October, D9 is celebrating all things local, with an elaborate showcase of Singapore-inspired desserts.
But first, the savoury stuff. Belly up to the roasted meat station that doles out crispy roast duck, five-spice crispy pork belly, and roasted chicken rice. Then graze the live stations purveying nasi lemak with all the trimmings, rojak (extra you tiao, please!), dim sum and cold seafood.
And if that’s not enough, there’s pasta with chilli crab sauce and pizzas topped with otah otah or paneer tikka. When you finally make it to the dessert station, get ready for delightful creations such as a Singapore Sling gateaux, soybean curd tarts and salted egg yolk macarons.
Available on Saturdays from S$48 per adult.
MEDITERRANEAN AFTERNOON TEA AT FENNEL CAFE, GARDENS BY THE BAY
There are far worse ways to spend an afternoon than at Fennel Cafe, located within the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay. With the temperature set at a blissful 20 degrees Celsius, this casual establishment is the perfect spot from which to gaze at views of the Marina Bay and the Singapore Flyer.
The Mediterranean Afternoon Tea menu is sensibly affordable – for S$38 per person, guests get a selection of six savoury items like Gruyere gourgeres, pan con tomate with Parma ham and avocado, and confit duck and egg mayo sandwiches, along with six sweets like Valencia orange financiers and chocolate and hazelnut cake.
Add S$5 for free flow of coffee and tea or S$12 for a glass of sangria.
NOSTALGIC WEEKEND HIGH TEA BUFFET AT ATRIUM BAR, PAN PACIFIC HOTEL
This isn’t so much high tea as it is a full-on buffet at the Pan Pacific Hotel. Cancel lunch or dinner because at this smorgasbord of old-school British and Peranakan delights, you’ll find yourself noshing on Nonya chicken curry with house-made baguette, aromatic prawn laksa, freshly wrapped popiah and kicap manis chicken skewers. There are also live kueh pie tee and rojak stations.
Additionally, Pan Pacific’s master butcher Kurt Roelli has created a Nonya sausage with achar for the occasion. Apart from traditional Singaporean kueh and cakes, there’s a spread of western bakes, from tuna mushroom feuillete and mini wagyu sliders to chocolate fudge cake and raspberry eclairs. Teatime guests get two complimentary beverages that include cold brew teas and freshly brewed coffee.
Available on weekends at S$50 per person.
TASTE OF ASIA AT V DINING
The Singapore story is strong at this fine dining newcomer. Pastry chef Joe Leong pulls out all his stops to parse traditional flavours in creative desserts like salted egg cream puffs, pandan kaya Swiss rolls with coconut Malibu gel, and black sesame ganache with sesame sponge. These sweets follow elegant savoury bites like chicken rice and beef rendang baos.
Available on Saturdays from S$58 per person.
TIERS OF JOY AT LIME RESTAURANT, PARKROYAL ON PICKERING
High tea every day? That’s the spirit at Lime Restaurant where the daily afternoon tea features sweet treats like peanut butter crunch with Gianduja Chantilly, pandan coconut tarts, and Earl Grey cappuccino tarts. Savouries abound too – crispy prawn bean curd rolls, mini shepherd’s pies, nasi lemak balls – along with freshly baked scones, both traditional and studded with bak kwa.
Available daily on weekdays at S$58 per set, good for two.