There’s so much to love about afternoon tea. It’s the perfect midday respite from a hectic afternoon, where one can unwind and catch up with friends while tucking into dainty scones and cakes. And if you’re enjoying a long, lazy afternoon tea on a weekday — instead of being cooped up at work in the office — it simply feels all the more decadent.
So it may be surprising that few know about the origins of afternoon tea. The quintessentially English custom is believed to have been started by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, who was said to suffer from ‘hunger spells’ between lunch and dinner. Tea, cake, and bread with butter became her remedies on late afternoons, and she savoured them in the comfort of her boudoir. Her friends were soon invited to partake in her daily teatime ritual, and this quickly evolved into an aristocratic social event.
Today, afternoon tea has become popular everywhere, including in Singapore, where teatime is celebrated every day in some of the city’s best restaurants. Read on for our pick of 10 of Singapore’s finest weekday afternoon tea spots.
Upon stepping into Tea Lounge at Regent Singapore, one is bound to notice its whimsical spread of cakes and pastries set against a backdrop of verdant greenery and a large sculpted chocolate ant perched on toadstools. The latter isn’t meant for consumption (tempting as it looks), but diners will be spoilt for choice nonetheless as the restaurant’s new English Garden afternoon tea features a semi-buffet format. Help yourself to dainty sandwiches, desserts like rose apple profiteroles, and English cheeses — which taste divine when drizzled with black truffle honey. Don’t forget to stop by the crepe station, where the chef will whip up buttery crepes topped with Tahitian vanilla gelato.
The feast doesn’t end there. At the table, you’ll also be served a three-tiered stand of quiches and scones, and a board laden with delectable concoctions such as squid ink macarons with smoked salmon, and tuna confit with saffron cream. Round off the indulgent afternoon with your own customised Gryphon tea blend, which you can create at the on-site tea bar from bases of English Breakfast or Shizuoka Sencha, and infusions of chamomile, peppermint, rosehip and marigold.
Available from Monday to Friday, 12pm to 5pm
Weekday afternoon tea at The Ritz London may be an institution that dates back to 1906, but it still is relevant as ever in present-day Singapore. Set in the elegant Chihuly Lounge, teatime at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore comes in the form of an eight-course weekday afternoon tea set that delights with a tea ceremony to kick off the afternoon, and a gilded tea set stand.
Treats include bite-sized beef pastrami with mustard mayonnaise, smoked salmon with cream cheese on pumpernickel bread, chocolate and orange scones, and an assortment of desserts including speculoos cake, and chocolate sable cookies with hazelnut praline.
Available daily from 12pm to 5pm
Inspired by springtime, The Lobby Lounge at InterContinental Singapore has launched a new garden-themed afternoon tea incorporated with tea and fruits. Its scrumptious highlights include savouries such as Darjeeling-smoked salmon with pickled papaya, Brie tartlet with pumpkin seeds and dried apricot, and creamy tomato prawn brioche; as well as desserts like apple tea-infused mascarpone chantilly cheesecake and a strawberry, basil and lemon tart. Also noteworthy are its Earl Grey scones paired with homemade apricot lavender jam, strawberry jam and clotted cream. This three-tiered afternoon tea set will be served until March 31.
Monday to Thursday, 2:00pm to 5:00pm
Friday to Sunday, and Public Holidays, 1:00pm to 3:00pm or 3:30pm to 5:30pm
Atrium at Pan Pacific Singapore has rolled out a revamped English afternoon tea presented in an eye-catching tea stand that resembles the eatery’s floating pod seats. Diners can look forward to savoury highlights such as Jamon Iberico ham sandwiches, red pepper quiche with cream cheese, and wagyu beef teriyaki with Shishito peppers on Pani Puri (fried dough balls) shells.
These are followed by tempting confections like a cherry-shaped dessert of cherry confit and mousse, passion mango choux with passionfruit chocolate, and no-bake cheesecake with Muscat grapes from France. Cap these off with refreshing cold brew infusions such as Earl Grey tea infused with orange, cinnamon and ginger, or a spiced nitro cold brew coffee.
Available from Monday to Friday, 2.30pm to 5.30pm
A picnic in the sky? We don’t see why not. Andaz Singapore’s Alley on 25 overlooks the cityscape from high above. Don’t expect your standard tiered stand here, as the afternoon tea is served in a picnic basket and two tiffin carriers. Within them, you’ll find a gamut of Western and Asian offerings, including smoked salmon tartines, lobster croissants, cheese balls stuffed with the plant-based Impossible meat, and classic teatime sweets like tea cakes, sweet scones, and chocolate bon bon sitting pretty next to local sweets like kueh lapis and pandan chiffon cake.
Available daily from 3pm to 5pm
Swissotel the Stamford, one of Southeast Asia’s tallest hotels, is just the right spot for afternoon tea, as evidenced by Skai, its light-flooded restaurant on the 70th floor. The backdrop to your meal is unparalleled, as the space is decked with large floor-to-ceiling windows offering arresting views of the Marina Bay area and the Singapore skyline.
Teatime treats are inspired by Japan. Skipping your standard tiered stand, these are served in what resembles a Japanese tree with flourishing cherry blossoms. This theme continues with its savouries, where lobster roll is topped with ikura, and truffle served alongside maitake, celeriac and flat bread. Sweets likewise take on a more Japanese palate, with matcha and black bean sesame working their way into mascarpone. For those who prefer the more conventional afternoon tea delights, the Madagascan vanilla scones are crumbly and buttery, and delicious when paired with orange jam.
Available from Sunday to Friday from 3pm to 5pm
So stylish is Renku Bar and Lounge that you wouldn’t immediately think of it is an afternoon tea spot. Around a towering, curved bar sits throne-like velvet green sofas and leather rounded couches with geometric coffee tables in bronze and gold tones adding to the sleek vibe. As you sink down on the plush seats, a glass-topped gueridon trolley carting sweets of mille feuilles and tarts, and savouries like black forest ham and beef pastrami finger sandwiches makes its rounds. But what really takes Renku up a notch is that it is a proper tea spot, with a Tea Master who creates your own unique blend based on your preferred base and notes.
Available daily, from 2pm to 3:30pm and 4pm to 5:30pm
Take a seat in the gilded lobby of Atlas: An Art Deco-inspired bar which pays homage to the glamour of the Golden Age. While it may be home to the world’s biggest collection of gin, its offerings go beyond the booze — it’s home to one of Singapore’s most decadent weekday afternoon tea experiences, which has recently been refreshed. Choose between the Atlas or Premium sets; the key difference lies in the exclusivity of its tea blends. Both are served on rose gold tiered stands, with dainty delights like savoury crushed peas and parmesan sable, lobster crostini, and 5J Iberico Jamon on toast, which encompasses premium hams spread on a bed of crushed tomatoes. As for sweets, these are deliciously on par, with brown butter scones paired with mascarpone and raspberry jam, and a punchy passionfruit pavlova with pistachio on the menu.
Available from Mondays to Saturdays, 3pm to 5pm
Woobar’s rendition of high tea is the most unconventional on this list. Called Drop the T, it’s served in a silver birdcage with multiple tiers of teatime dishes. Don’t expect your usual suspects. Instead of your standard cream and jam fare, scones are served with a citrusy passion fruit curd and black pepper sour cream and savouries include chorizo madelines, crispy foie gras and duck rillettes bonbon, and pulled barbecued beef on Brioche Crout. Those with a sweet tooth will be mighty pleased here, as desserts include rocky road bars, meringue lollipops and mini wafer cones with white chocolate Chantilly.
Available daily from 3pm to 5pm
Some things are worth crossing islands for — like weekday afternoon tea at Capella Singapore’s Chef’s Table. Its rendition of the elegant ritual takes on an Ayurvedic slant with healing teas anchored in the three doshas, which refer to the biological energies that are found in the body and mind. For instance, to support the Pitta, the fire and water element, a blend of spicy ginger, lemon and mint is prescribed for good digestion; Kapha (earth and water) is a green tea mix with gentle spices. To complement this, the menu features a selection of savouries like beetroot-cured smoked salmon sandwich, and braised sweet turnip with shiitake mushroom, prawn and tomatoes and sweets such as Japanese yuzu curd, and a refreshing aloe vera and lemongrass gelee.
Available from Monday to Friday, 3pm to 5pm