The Chinese were the first to discover the tea
leaf, and thus the joy inherent in a soothing pot of tea, but the practice of tea drinking soon spread to all corners of the globe. From graceful tea ceremonies in Japan, to the minty brews of Morocco and the gloriously spiced cha of India, each day millions of people around the world enjoy the simple pleasure of a nice cup of tea.
The highly pleasurable ritual of afternoon tea, often referred to as ‘high tea,’ is British to the core, and its origins can be traced to the aristocracy in Victorian England. During this time ladies would gather in elegant drawing rooms for languid afternoons filled with tea, cake, sandwiches and gossip. By the early 1900’s the ritual had spread out from the home and into elaborately adorned tea gardens and the dining rooms of luxury hotels. These were glamorous social events, and people would dress in their finest outfits, orchestras would play, and all manner of cakes would be served alongside the most exotic of tea blends.
Here in Bali, the ritual of afternoon tea can be enjoyed in many guises from classic English-style ‘high tea’ to all manners of Asian innovations.
Housed in an atmospheric antique-filled joglo in the heart of Petitgenget, Biku is famed for its traditional afternoon tea, serving exotic brews in antique tea pots wrapped in cosies. Choose from a sideboard brimming with an enticing array of cakes, such as Sicilian apple cake and Mexican chocolate cake, or order a classic afternoon tea with the works – think fresh strawberries, plump scones, cucumber sandwiches, gingerbread men and dainty cup cakes. The Asian afternoon tea is also excellent, with highlights including date and spice scones with homemade mango jam, and a divine salak (snake fruit) poached in cinnamon and star anise. Fortune tellers are also on hand to read your tea leaves or tarot cards.
The enchanting Swept Away restaurant at The Samaya Ubud has a stunning location on the banks of the Ayung River surrounded by a steep tropical gorge. Afternoon tea is served to the soothing hum of cicadas and the roar of the river, and comes on a sleek black and silver display stand baring finger sandwiches, pastries, desserts and scones.
The ‘Art of High Tea’ is an extravaganza that amply reflects the glamorous surrounds of The Mulia. Splurge on Classic or Indonesian High Tea with specialty hors d’oeuvres and artfully decorated cakes. Afternoon tea also includes unlimited access to the dessert room at the adjoining Cafe – actually its two rooms filled with a mind boggling selection of pastries, cakes, fruits and ice cream bar.
The opulent King Cole Bar makes a refined setting for the fanciest afternoon tea on the island. Following the graceful tradition of the original St Regis Hotel in New York, this elegant affair features an international buffet corner, homemade pralines and ice cream, boutique teas from around the world, and individual twin-tiered stands loaded with finger sandwiches, cakes and scones with clotted cream. Make sure to try the Valrhona chocolate fountain.
Clinging to the limestone cliff tops of southern Bali with jaw dropping views of the Indian Ocean, Ju Ma Na surely has the most dramatic setting for afternoon tea on the island. Enjoy the breeze from the terrace and an enticing display that includes a mini steak sandwich, salmon on pumpernickel, blueberry scones with clotted cream, raspberry macaron and apple crumble. A complimentary glass of sparkling wine is included, as well as tea and coffee.
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