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Afternoon teas: we try four of the best in Macao
Sands Style / Gourmet & Wellbeing

Afternoon teas: we try four of the best in Macao

From classic English to French to Macanese, the ritual of afternoon tea is alive and well in Macao, writes Catharine Nicol

There are a few things you need to know about afternoon tea, before you collapse into your comfy armchair to await a pot of tea and multiple layers of treats. Be warned, the meal you think of as romantic, or as the perfect accompaniment to a spot of gossip, or simply as a super civilised timeout, is beset by etiquette. Sit down, read on, listen and learn. We’ve got you covered.

First, a bit of trivia for you to wow your afternoon tea date with. The custom started when British socialite Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford, found the break between lunch and dinner too long. She got into the habit of ordering tea and cakes at 4pm, and soon all her guests were adopting the practice. Even Queen Victoria followed suit. Yes, this meal has the royal seal of approval, and has been
popular since the 1840s.

About that cup of tea you must be dying for by now: add lemon or milk, as you wish – but if adding milk, you must pour the tea first. Serving the milk first used to be done to soften the blow of the scalding tea being poured into the cup, which might have caused it to crack – but this only applied to below-par chinaware, a definitive sign of riffraff.

Sandwiches and savoury bites should be chosen first, followed by scones, cakes and pastries. Eat delicately; afternoon tea is to be savoured, not devoured.

Now, scones. Tricky. “Scone” should be pronounced to rhyme with “swan” not “flown”. Served warm, break them in half horizontally, do not cut with a knife. If you side with the Devonshire diners, then the cream should be spread first, followed by the jam. If you are with the Cornwallians, then it’s jam then cream. Don’t plonk the lid on, scones are eaten open; all the better to pile the cream and jam high, but – ahem – not too high.

Now you can approach any afternoon tea with confidence and style. At the elegant St. Regis Bar, two afternoon teas neatly cover East and West. The Harmony Afternoon Tea Set brings a distinct local flavour with standout treats the duck spring roll, like a crispy Peking duck pancake, the perfectly sweet and salty char sui so (barbecue pork pastry) and the delicately layered serradura with light cream alternating with the finest biscuit crumb you’ve ever tasted. Oh, and the Nutella mousse pancake and maltose cracker sandwiches (flaky, caramelly snacks on a stick) deserve a special mention.

The Classic Afternoon Tea Set offers an Iberico ham sandwich wrapped in cucumber for a salty, crunchy start, while sandwiches include a rich smoked salmon on rye. Then it’s a distinctly French journey of macaron, éclair, hazelnut financier and salted caramel opera, before you succumb to the chocolate lollipop and strawberry crumble cone.

The tea menu is extensive. I recommend their Longjing green tea as the perfect contrast. 

Go all romantic at Conrad Macao’s The Lounge with their super cute Mr & Miss High Tea combo which arrives on his-and-hers stands. Or order one, the slightly sweeter Miss or more savoury Mr, when the need for a bit of self-indulgence strikes while flying solo. The smoked salmon comes adorned with caviar for Mr, and with a pretty layer of pink and purple pickles for Miss. Then it’s jamon de
jabugo with tomato confit for him, lobster canapé with tomato jelly for her. Chicken curry croquette for him, char siu so for her. The rum baba for him is divinely alcoholic, while the serradura with caramel and Speculos adding crunch and spice is a winner for her, among other sweets.

At The Parisian Macao’s Brasserie, you’ll feel as though you’re in Paris when you see the Eiffel Tower-themed spread before you. The French Afternoon Tea Set starts with the mini croque madame of layers of bread, juicy ham, béchamel and fried quail egg. Among other savoury treats, the smoked salmon roulade with crêpe is generously filled and the deep-fried crab meat is crunchy on the outside, creamy within. Madeleines with pineapple and black pepper, strawberry and cream terrine, layers of chocolate and crunch in the hazelnut dacquise, and a
Tricolore of macarons provide a Who’s Who of French patisserie. The pièce de résistance is a side helping of hot Moelleux au Chocolate Noir with Grand Marnier (basically a hot chocolate lava pudding), on the side. Along with these treats, try the dry cider, a great accompaniment with a smoky flavour.

The Manor at The St. Regis Macao offers a historic and cultural treat which has Macao’s locals buzzing. Feel yourself travel back in time as you survey their Cha Gordo – Fat Tea, a buffet high tea families would offer after a ceremony or event as celebration. Revisiting and preserving traditional Macanese recipes, it is a labour of cultural love.

Two savoury dishes to choose between are Minchi – arguably Macao’s signature dish – which comprises beef and pork mince, diced potatoes and fried egg; or their version of a lacassá, transformed from the traditional Malay influenced soup into a rice vermicelli with barbecue pork, shrimp and ginger. The spreads on the tables span 30 sweets and savouries like the meltin- the-mouth salted cod with potato croquettes, shrimp turnovers in crispy pastry and curry puffs. The Portuguese egg tarts on a blue plate are beautiful to behold, alongside Chinese almond cookies, Portuguese fruit cake topped with candied fruit and coconut rice pudding.

Brasserie, The Parisian Macao
+853 8111 9200

The Lounge, Conrad Macao, Cotai Central
+853 8113 8973

The St. Regis Bar, The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central
+853 8113 3700

The Manor, The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central
+853 8113 2777