Everyone loves afternoon tea, but few know about its origins. The quintessential English custom is attributed to Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, who was said to suffer from ‘hunger spells’ between lunch and dinner. Tea, bread and butter and cake were her remedies on late afternoons, and she enjoyed them in the comfort of her boudoir. Her friends were soon invited to partake in her daily ritual, and this quickly became an aristocratic social event. Today, afternoon tea has become a ritual everywhere, including Singapore, where teatime is celebrated daily in some of the city’s finest restaurants and lounges. Ahead, we pick 10 of Singapore’s best weekday afternoon tea spots.
1. Chihuly Lounge, The Ritz-Carlton
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 Singapore comes in two options: A buffet and a decadent eight-course set. The former features a spread of sandwiches, cold and hot savouries of deep-fried soft shell crab, confit salmon and Asian roasted duck salad as well as a wide range of desserts, including lavender mousse and stone fruit crumble. But if you prefer a more traditional take on tea, the eight-course set delights with its main course, gilded tea set stand and assortment of chocolate and cookies.
2. Pollen, Gardens by the Bay
Far from the confines of a four-walled lounge is Pollen: A restaurant that sits pretty on the second floor of the Flower Dome’s Mediterranean Garden, and looks out onto Marina Bay. Tea gets underway for glasses of bubbles, to be sipped as you nibble on classic teatime sweets and savouries — think finger sandwiches, scones with generous dollops of berry jam and clotted cream and cakes and pastries — made with seasonal produce.
3. Renku Bar and Lounge, Marina Bay Sands
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 and savouries 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, or whips up bar-exclusives like the Durian Lapis.
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 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. Choose between the Atlas or Premium sets; the difference lies in the exclusivity of its tea blends but both afford you teatime staples with an edge such as savoury eclairs with grain mustard monay and cheesecake with a punchy lemon curd.
5. 10 Scotts, Grand Hyatt
With its serene surrounds and cascading waterfall as its backdrop, 10 Scotts instantly puts tired shoppers in a good mood. Teatime takes shape in a buffet of local and international afternoon tea classics. Start with a stop at the charcuterie and cheese station, before whetting your appetite with sustainable seafood of freshly shucked oysters, poached black mussels and lala clams. Sandwiches and hot savouries are on rotation, with desserts, ice creams and sherbets mainstays for sweet tooths. For an utterly indulgent afternoon, be sure to check out their all-new Spa Afternoon Tea programme which comes with a 75 minutes personalised massage for two.
6. Atrium, Pan Pacific Singapore
Pan Pacific Singapore celebrates nostalgia with its distinctly local take on the British ritual of afternoon tea. A tiffin carrier holds mouthwatering treats familiar to the Singaporean palate, such as hae bee hiam and sautéed cabbage soft roll, Nyonya curry and Muar-style otah kueh pie tee. Finish with a flair with angku kueh, kueh salat and gula melaka ondeh ondeh, to be washed down with coffee, TWG tea or cold brew infusions. The feel of Atrium is intimate yet opulent, as you’ll be dining in a gravity-defying space pod floating above a pool.
7. MO Bar, Mandarin Oriental
A spectacular panorama of Singapore greets you at Mandarin Oriental’s MO Bar. Low armchairs and tables gets you suitably comfortable for a delicious afternoon. The treats keep coming as you soak up the view; the selection is varied with bite-sized foie gras tarts with cherry and balsamic caviar, lobster kueh pie tee, and cranberry and hazelnut scones. On the beverage menu are citrus-infused infusions for a refreshing perk-me-up, or cocktails and champagne to up the decadence.
8. Woobar, W Singapore
Woobar’s rendition of high tea is the most unconventional of this list. Called Drop the T, it’s served in a silver birdcage with multiple tiers of teatime treats. 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 beef BBQ on Brioche Crout. Sweet tooths will be mighty pleased here, as desserts include rocky road bars, meringue lollipops and mini wafer cones with white chocolate Chantilly.
Afternoon tea at Flutes comes with a disclaimer — it’s only available for parties of 10. Make an day of it, as the colonial restaurant in National Museum is an elegant, well-appointed space. Sandwiches, savouries and sweets form the holy trifecta of the restaurant’s weekday afternoon tea. Sandwiches include jamon, cheese and truffle toastie and poached chicken with smoked paprika; savouries are a mix of duck rilettes, mushroom vol-au-vents, leek and cumin quiches and smoked salmon roulades. Finish with a flourish with desserts of mini eclairs, cupcakes, and english scones with Chantilly cream and strawberry jam.
10. Chef’s Table at Capella Singapore
Some things are worth crossing islands for — like weekday afternoon tea at Capella Singapore’s Chef’s Table. While the restaurant pulls off an elegant rendition of the ritual, it’s its ‘Wellness Teatime’ that’s considerably unique. Available on Fridays, the afternoon tea set is plant-based, gluten and refined sugar free meal. Decadence has a different face, with tempeh portobello sliders with green goddess cream, crispy charcoal tuile with root vegetable hummus and cauliflower Millefeuille with shiitake ‘bacon’. Desserts too receive a healthier makeover, with blueberry ‘cheesecake’ with beetroot Glaze, quinoa and zucchini chocolate tea cake and cacao avo mousse.