* Part 3 of a series *
Strictly speaking, there are remarkable distinctions between Afternoon Tea and High Tea. First off, the former is a light meal consisting of finger sandwiches, scones and small cakes or pastries. It is usually taken during the mid-afternoon hours between 3 o’ clock and 5 o’ clock. The latter is significantly heavier, like an early dinner type of meal. Historically, afternoon tea was identified with the high society, hence it involved the use of fine china (i.e., fancy teapots and teacups), while high tea originated from the lower/working class or laborers who got home from work at around 6:00 p.m. and were therefore famished. Traditionally, high tea consisted of meat dishes (such as steak and kidney pie), fish, vegetables, bread, baked beans and cheese. Moreover, the tea was poured from brown kettles instead of teapots, and served in mugs and not teacups.
Now that we know the differences between the two, we can safely assume that in today’s society, class discrimination is no longer observed insofar as afternoon tea and high tea are concerned. In fact, they are used interchangeably nowadays. Or perhaps, they mean the same thing to some establishments just like Makati Shangri-La.
My friend Aimee and I met up at the Lobby Lounge of Makati Shangri-La yesterday for our long-overdue afternoon tea date. The afternoon tea menu has three selections: Filipino High Tea (P650++) includes bibingka, vegetable spring rolls, pan de sal with bistek tagalog, empanada with adobo, banana turon, buco pandan, leche flan and the like; Classic High Tea (P650++) consisting of scones, sandwiches and desserts; and the Lobby Lounge Special (P700++) which contains mostly fancy sandwiches and pastries.
Aimee and I agreed to just go for the Classic High Tea mainly because of the scones. The set seemed fit for royalty, and with background music of soft piano, violin and flute played by the hotel’s very own 14-piece orchestra, we knew we were in for some wonderful, relaxing time. The scones on the top layer of the 3-tiered tray, however, were a bit too dry and lacking in taste, but we managed to eat them all up anyway.
The second tier offered some savory bites: smoked salmon on rye, duck foie gras in brioche, ham and cheese sandwich and a little crab cake. All good.
Quite predictably, the third layer proved to be my favorite — desserts! Fresh strawberries and cream tartlet, pineapple panna cotta, sacher torte and marble cake slices: yum, yum, yum and yum!
The most important component of afternoon tea is, of course, tea itself. Makati Shangri-La offers a variety of specialty tea from one of my favorite brands (and I have so many), Dilmah. From the long list of tea selections, we chose the Ceylon Young Hyson Green Tea: “a gentle brew with a slightly sweet finish, this tea is ideal as an accompaniment to a meal, or as a relaxing afternoon tea.” And true enough, it was an excellent choice.
Makati Shangri-La‘s Classic High Tea set was very filling and highly satisfying. Our bill added up to almost P800 inclusive of taxes but, all things considered, is this afternoon tea worth its price tag? A big, fat YES.
“There is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson