TO CELEBRATE NATIONAL TEA DAY ON THE 21ST MAY
Whilst England is known as the birthplace of the traditional afternoon tea, which was established in the early 19th century, the tea drinking ritual is one which takes many forms – from matcha green tea ceremonies in Japan, to homemade sweet iced tea enjoyed on porches in America’s southeastern states.
Destinations all around the world offer spectacular afternoon tea experiences, from a truly high tea at Abu Dhabi’s Observation Deck at 300 restaurant, to an indulgent champagne afternoon tea in the heart of Toronto.
Experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony at Prince Hotel Shin Takanawa, Tokyo
In Japan, making and enjoying a cup of tea is an elevated art form that is considered a spiritual discipline. At the Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa in Tokyo, guests can experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony which originated in the 14th century. Guests are led through a serene garden and into a simple tearoom, passing through a small entrance which signifies leaving behind life’s daily worries. Guests are seated on the floor and are invited to re-vitalise, slow down and enjoy the presence of friends. The tea host carefully prepares and serves a Japanese green tea, called Matcha, through a series of predefined movements which combine harmony, respect, purity and tranquillity. Every movement and gesture, as well as the utensils used, carry a significant meaning which is carefully explained by the hosts allowing guests to be fully immersed in the ceremony. The Matcha tea is served with traditional Japanese sweets to balance the bitterness of the tea. The whole process is not just about drinking the tea, but about preparing a bowl of tea from one’s heart, enjoying every sip with the time to reflect and leaving the tea house with a sense of calm and spiritual reflection. www.princehotels.com/shintakanawa
South Carolina – where travellers are welcomed with a glass of sweet iced tea
Sweetened iced tea is legendary in the southeastern United States, where it is not just a summertime drink, but is served year-round with most meals. In the south, the most popular recipe calls for sweetened black tea to be poured over ice and served with sliced lemon in crystal glassware or handled jars. At the Charleston Tea Plantation in South Carolina, travellers can learn first-hand how tea is grown, harvested and enjoyed. Established in 1963 on Wadmalaw Island (half an hour’s drive southwest of Charleston), the Charleston Tea Plantation has a prime environment for growing black and green tea and is the USA’s only tea plantation. Much like the picturesque city of Charleston, the plantation is a treat for the eyes; pathways are shaded by archways formed by centuries-old oak trees, with verdant fields as far as the eye can see. While here, visitors can take a trolley ride around the 51-hectare farm to see more than 320 varieties of plants used to make tea. The complimentary factory tour teaches visitors about the differences in production of green, black and oolong teas – including sampling the varieties during tastings. www.visittheusa.co.uk
A truly high tea at Abu Dhabi’s Observation Deck at 300 restaurant
Travellers to Abu Dhabi can sip on the finest teas whilst taking in the 360-degree views over the UAE capital from the city’s highest restaurant, the Observation Deck at 300. Located on the 74th floor within the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers hotel, the Observation Deck is more sophisticated than its name suggests, serving delightful afternoon teas with optional sparkling wine to hotel guests and visitors alike. The tea menu comes courtesy of luxury brand TWG Tea, featuring artisanal teas such as Crème Caramel Tea, a sweet and smooth fusion, and Silver Moon Tea, accented with a vanilla and berry bouquet. The backdrop is pretty special too, with views right across the Corniche beach, Downtown Abu Dhabi and the Arabian Gulf. www.visitabudhabi.ae
New York Versus Tennessee: Where was the Long Island Iced Tea cocktail invented?
The Long Island Iced Tea cocktail, combining tequila, vodka, triple sec, gin, rum and cola, is well-known and well-ordered at bars around the world. Whilst it’s a staple on many cocktail lists, there is some intrigue over where in the United States the legendary drink originated from, who invented it and when it was first served. The obvious birthplace would seem to be Long Island, New York, and it is here that a bartender named Robert Butt claims to have created the recipe for a 1972 cocktail-crafting competition. However, the Tennessee community of Kingsport, known as Long Island, attributes the drink’s invention to a resident who is said to have combined tequila, vodka, gin, rum, whiskey, and maple syrup during the 1920s prohibition era, and called his creation ‘Old Man Bishop’. Legend has it that the recipe was passed down in Kingsport, and during the 1940s was refined to become the Long Island Iced Tea widely served today. Those who wish to sample Long Island Iced Tea cocktails stateside, should head to Hudson’s on the Mile in Long Island, New York where Butt served up the cocktail in 1972, and to East Coast Wings and Grill in Kingsport, Tennessee, for the original prohibition recipe. www.visittheusa.co.uk
Award-winning afternoon tea at St Regis Doha, Sarab Lounge in Qatar
The five-star St Regis Doha is located in the heart of West Bay in Qatar’s capital city, adjacent to the Pearl Island, offers sweeping views overlooking the Persian Gulf. The hotel features 12 destination restaurants and lounges including Opal by Gordon Ramsay, Hakkasan, the Vintage Lounge and Astor Grill, as well as a spectacular rooftop bar and Sarab, an excellent spot for a light snack or a delectable cup of afternoon tea from a world-collection of over 100 blends. As the winner of the “Best Afternoon Tea” at the Time Out Doha Restaurant Awards 2018, Sarab’s Afternoon Tea menu offers a vast selection of teas, infusions, coffees, cocktails, and champagnes that recalls the vision that Lady Astor inaugurated at Club 400 (now The St. Regis New York), when she would invite her grand friends to tea. And as the sun begins to set, another splendid Astor family tradition is carried out; the champagne sabering ritual, which signals the start of the evening. www.visitqatar.qa
Discover Music City’s mysterious fruit tea craze in Nashville
Visitors to Nashville will find ‘fruit tea’ — or ‘fruit punch’ or ‘tea punch’, as it’s also known — on menus across the city, from biscuit houses to barbeque joints, and from bagel shops to burrito restaurants. It’s a concoction of brewed sweet tea with orange juice, lemon, and sometimes other fruit juices, served in everything from crystal glasses to plastic cups, and seasoned with cinnamon, sprigs of mint, or slices of lemon. Nashville’s fondness for fruit tea dates back to the 1970s when it was enjoyed by ladies who lunch and has since made its way to the masses. Local state legend Daisy King opened Miss Daisy’s Tearoom (now Kitchen) in Franklin, just south of Nashville, in 1974 and served her first customers Tea Punch sweetened with pineapple juice which remains on her menu today, and it’s believed she was one of the first to introduce fruit tea to menus. Today Caribbean-themed Calypso Café has a popular version, as does Baja Burrito while Knockout Wings, Star Bagel, McCabe Pub, Corner Market also offer their own variations. Fruit tea is very much a hit with the locals, who stop in from nearby office and federal buildings and order it with house-made potato chips as a modern Nashville tea-time ritual. www.visitmusiccity.com
An indulgent royal afternoon tea in Ontario
Visitors to Ontario will be in for a treat with afternoon tea at the landmark Fairmont Royal York, which has stood for 90 years in the heart of Toronto. The historic hotel offers a luxurious setting to escape the busy streets with rooms that have some of the best views in the city, but it is the famous afternoon tea which is the real draw. The Fairmont Royal York has followed the time-honoured tradition of serving afternoon tea since its opening in 1929, with classic scones, savoury sandwiches and fine pastries all served from its REIGN restaurant, complemented by curated Fairmont teas. For an extra special occasion there is the option to upgrade to a Royal Sparking or a Royal Champagne afternoon tea. www.ontariotravel.net/en/home
Sri Lanka’s tea plantation scenery and Ceylon tea tastings with One Traveller
Sri Lanka is one of the largest producers of tea in the world, making it the ideal place to visit for all teaholics. The tea country hills of central Sri Lanka are often referred to as ‘Little England’ due to the cool climate and colonial-era bungalows, although it boasts a landscape far more theatrical than that of the UK. Mist-shrouded mountains and terraced tea plantations surround the area, whilst world-class brews are in abundance. One Traveller, the experts in mature solo travel, offer a 16-day trip to Sri Lanka where visitors can enjoy the slower pace of life and drink in the destination. The itinerary includes a picturesque train ride from Kandy to the tea plantations, passing by villages, waterfalls and mountains, before reaching the tea estates. Upon arrival guests will have the chance to sample the finest Ceylon teas before being shown the stages of the tea-making process at the factory. A true treat for any tea enthusiast. www.onetraveller.co.uk
Enjoy high tea at Château Mon Désir at the Maritim Resort & Spa, Mauritius
The Maritim Resort & Spa, Mauritius boasts an exclusive fine dining ‘à la carte’ restaurant nestled in a colonial-style mansion and harmoniously integrated in the Maritim Estate. The restaurant caters for brunch, high tea, dinner as well as events and special occasions and is recognised was awarded the ‘Best Fine Dining Cuisine’ of the island by the prestigious ‘World Luxury Restaurant Awards’. This enchanting restaurant overlooking the ‘Historical Ruins of Balaclava’, and the ‘Citron’ river offers fine International, French and Indian Ocean delicacies. Its special high tea menu invites visitors to treat themselves with the English tradition of afternoon tea by enjoying a selection of pastries, juices and hot beverages whilst taking in the enchanting setting of this spectacular mansion house. www.tourism-mauritius.mu
Daily afternoon tea on the Cunard voyage to Iceland and the Faroe Islands with Iglu Cruise
Afternoon tea aboard luxurious cruise ships is famed all over the world. Cunard, with its historic British heritage leads the way. Afternoon tea on the ships, served by white-gloved waiters, is held between 3:30pm and 4:30pm daily, with the exception of embarkation day, meaning what voyagers need not be without a brew at sea. The famous afternoon tea with champagne, is served at the Verandah Restaurant on Queen Victoria. Teas on offer are from Twinings, and the onboard tea sommelier will help guests decipher the menu. An enticing array of sandwiches is presented followed by scones with clotted cream and jam. Iglu Cruise offers a 14 night no-fly cruise on board Cunard’s Queen Victoria to set sail, tea in hand, to Iceland and the Faroe Islands. Prices from £1,699 per person, with departure from Southampton on 11th July 2021. Highlights include experiencing Edinburgh, Reykjavik, Tórshavn (the beautiful capital of the Faroe Islands) all in the cool splendour of a Cunard ship fit with a Champagne bar, fully stocked library and afternoon tea to help to warm up as passengers head north. www.iglucruise.com/queen-victoria/11th-july-2021_c223982