Afternoon Tea is becoming quite an affair here in the UAE, and I have to say: I’m loving it! As an American, its definitely not something that I’m used to, so I can’t really compare it to too many experiences that I’ve had before (in or outside of the UAE).
Right after checking in to our room at The St. Regis, we headed to the first floor’s Tea Lounge to experience their Afternoon Tea. Let me start by saying that The St. Regis Abu Dhabi has one of the most beautiful hotel lobbies, and the gorgeous imperial staircase leads you from the ground floor to the first floor. The same chandeliers hanging from the high-ceiling are also visible from the Tea Lounge, and the setting is beyond beautiful.
We were a little bit late, but the staff were so kind and welcoming. After being seated in a gorgeously designed booth, my husband, baby Khalifa and I waited on a waiter to come, but we were in for a surprise.
The person serving us that evening was no other than The St. Regis’ own Tea Connoisseur, Ivan. He introduced himself, and then brought out a beautiful cart filled with many different kinds of teas, spices and herbs– there was a possibility of 150 different combinations!
We were completely overwhelmed as to what to choose but he walked us through everything. Through several different questions, like “Do you want a high or low content of caffeine?”, “Do you like sweet notes or earthy tastes?”, etc., he was able to put together the perfect combinations for both my husband and I.
Ivan also had a treat for Khalifa: a special, freshly-made hibiscus water. He took about a spoonful of dried hibiscus petals and then added into the lukewarm water and within minutes, the entire glass had turned into a bright red (and very kid-friendly) drink. He went on to explain that the drink was highly recommended by the World Health Organization for children because of all of its vitamins.
While Khalifa had his drink, Ivan began blending infusions for both my husband and I. For me, I went with a high-caffeine content, dark Assam tea with spiced notes.
My husband had a milder blend of white tea with jasmine and a hint of citrus. Both of our blends were incredible, but I have to admit, the taste of my husband’s blend was so unique and different to anything I’ve ever tried before.
While we were having our tea, we were presented with trays of sandwiches, and in true St. Regis fashion, the chef had gone all-out! There was a variety of luxurious finger foods and sandwiches including smoked salmon with caviar, delicious duck, egg and truffle, chicken tikka, and also a fresh cucumber and cream cheese sandwich. They were all scrumptious, and my favorite was the egg and truffle! It’s a definite must-try for anyone going to the Afternoon Tea here.
Ivan had another surprise in store for us. As we were finishing up our teas, he brought out a bottle of non-alcoholic sparkling wine. He explained that during afternoon tea, its a St. Regis tradition to pop the cork off of champagne bottles with swords! He went on to demonstrate, and then poured us a glass each of the delicious bubbly.
Soon, another tray of more sandwiches and sweets came. Each and every one of the desserts was just delightful! Each dessert was so different from the next, which goes to show that the chef really tries to cater to all tastes. There are light, fresh fruit tarts, creamy profiteroles, dark chocolate indulgences; the selection is sure to satisfy any and all sweet-tooths.
After this, Ivan was preparing to blend us another tea to finish off the evening, but my little Khalifa was getting tired, so we decided to go back upstairs to our room. Our new favorite tea connoisseur had prepared two small boxes of blends for us to try at a later time, and gave them to us before we headed out. He also gave us the cork from the bottle to remember the afternoon by.
The setting, the service, the tea and the food were so incredible and we’ll definitely be back. Next time, however, I think I’ll leave the husband and the baby behind, and make it a ladies affair, because the only thing that could make this experience any better is good gossip to go with the tea!
The price for Afternoon Tea at The St. Regis Abu Dhabi is 180 Dhs per person; Afternoon Tea with non-alcoholic bubbly is 220 Dhs per person; and Afternoon Tea with champagne is 250 Dhs per person.
For more information, call The St. Regis Abu Dhabi at +971 2 694 4553.