In our fast paced world we gulp coffee on the way out the door, but there is something about tea that defies our daily rush and gently coerces us to remain seated and sip the moment. “Tea time” is more than just a break in the day; and Afternoon Tea at Shangri-La Hotel Toronto is a chance to appreciate decorative china dishes, a selection of smooth teas, finger sandwiches and sweet confections, and share in a sophisticated pastime.
The pleasurable ritual of tea is not lost on the Shangri-La Hotel Toronto, whose elegant grand lobby lounge seems to have gravitational pull as we orbit in from the snowy street outside. Seated by a faux fire, we sink into the couch, and are greeted with service trained in the art and value of hospitality. Soothed by the mellifluous playing of renowned pianist, Richard Whiteman, we peruse a menu of select finger sandwiches, tea cakes, scones and pastries, and remember–oh yes, we don’t need to choose between them; we get them all!
Pastries are inspired by the Nutcracker ballet, with each one representing a different dance. There’s the “Spanish Dance” chocolate truffle with cinnamon and chilli; the decadent “Arabian Dance” coffee opera cake of jaconde sponge, coffee hazelnut butter cream and chocolate glaze; a “Chinese Dance” glass of cassis cream, Darjeeling tea gelee and crispy meringue; a peppermint macaroon “Russian Dance”; and a “Dance of the Reed Flutes” citrus sponge cake with marzipan glaze–all decadent morsels that make my two left feet plié and relevé for more.
Soft-on-the-palate Earl Grey with a strong bouquet of bergamot and sweet citrus pairs affectionately with warm fresh scones spread with luxurious devonshire cream and orange marmalade. Another popular tea among Shangri-La patrons is the Apple Crumble which, for me, has an aroma reminiscent of a sweetly spiced warm apple pie and scoop of vanilla. Rich and fragrant, the tea invites my eyes to dance around all the treats and playfully pair with each one. All smiles. We’ve put our feet up and claimed our new after-Christmas-shopping relaxation in the lounge of Shangri-La. (Now until Jan. 2nd)
Tea Fact: the tradition of pouring milk into tea began when Europeans, attempting to recreate the hard porcelain they found in China, could only make soft porcelain that easily cracked when hot tea was poured onto it. Cold milk was used to reduce the temperature of the tea and save the cup from breaking apart!