travel: high tea at four seasons
Hong Kong might once again be part of China, but there are still traces of British customs left over from colonial days. Ask locals about high tea and they will present you with a long list of places to enjoy this tradition.
High tea has long been part of the fabric of Hong Kong. It’s the opposite of Starbucks speed and paper cups—and minus the WiFi and clicking of laptop keyboards. This calmer ritual of meeting friends over tea (or even coffee) in the afternoon is about more than hot beverages—it’s about tiers of delectable savory sandwiches and sweet desserts. More importantly, is the ability to be momentarily still and soak in the bustling intensity of Hong Kong as an observer instead of as a participant for a brief interlude. Starbucks to-go is about fueling up to jump into the fray—afternoon tea is about stepping out of it.
After being treated to a scrumptious lunch by my brother at Tosca in the new ICC/Ritz Carlton complex (which I’ll talk about in the near future), we strolled through the connecting shopping mall. We decided to cross the harbor to go to Central. Soon, it was time for a break.
M suggested a tea emporium we came upon a few days ago, but the wait was over 40 minutes. So my brother guided us through the maze of walkways and platoons of on-coming shoppers to another place. Now, I live in New York City and grew up in Hong Kong, so you’d think that I’d be immune to crowds and fast walkers. Maybe, but HK citizens still surprise me. There is something about the energy, pace, and determination of Hong Kongers on a mission.
My brother directed us to the serene lobby of the Four Seasons overlooking the harbor. As soon as we approached The Lounge, located off the lobby, I realized why he’d picked this spot. The floor-to-ceiling window framed the spectacular view of where we had lunch—the soaring 118-story ICC/Ritz Carlton tower across the water.
Considering we’d only finished lunch just about 2 hours earlier, we restrained ourselves to 2 orders of tea service among us. The assortment of petite bites was perfect to go with our tea—earl grey in my case. M selected the English Breakfast blend and asked a simple question about the tea that sent three people running to the kitchen to fetch the tea canister. We sipped and snacked as a piano player nearby ambled through old standards.
It was a fine ending to a wonderful day with my brother. We were renewed for more adventures—the biggest one for that evening was multi-course dinner at home with Mommy.