It may seem like ages ago since we officially welcomed the New Year 2022, but it’s Chinese New Year that really gets me excited and ready to get in gear. I’ve always had a love for Asian food and a penchant for afternoon teas, so what better place to kickstart the festivities than at Pan Pacific London who have launched their Year Of The Tiger Afternoon Tea, in honour of the Lunar New Year.
As we entered The Orchid Lounge, we paused briefly to admire their Bonsai Wishing Tree, which plays a big part in the Chinese New Year festivities; those who celebrate Chinese New Year usually throw their red ribbons on wishing trees with hopes that their ribbons will stick and their wishes will come true. The Orchid Lounge was bright and airy, beautifully decorated throughout with luscious orchids and exotic Bird of Paradise plants. We settled into a cosy sofa table by the window with a view across the Plaza, the towering plants behind us served as the perfect tropical backdrop for our afternoon tea experience.
Embracing the spirit of wealth and prosperity of the Lunar New Year, their latest seasonal afternoon tea features the Year of the Tiger Kopi Tiam Afternoon Tea, infused with a pinch of luck by Executive Chef Lorraine Sinclair and Executive Pastry Chef Cherish Finden.
We were welcomed with dainty teacups filled with a red date and goji berries, rock sugar tea, the first cup of tea to bring sweetness to the year. Always partial to a glass of bubbly, we also indulged in glasses of 2016 Gusbourne Rosé. Their extensive selection of teas is exclusively sourced by the Rare Tea Company who supply the world’s best teas, directly from farmers and their tea gardens. Tea has been consistently held in high regard and is traditionally known as one of the seven necessities of life, and in celebration of Chinese New Year, they also had on offer some of the finest rare teas found throughout various regions in China. I started with the Da Hong Pao (‘Big Red Robe’) a fine oolong from China, grown from a unique and ancient cultivar in the Wuyishan UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also known as ‘rock tea’ because of the high mountain rock below the soil that enriches the leaves, giving off notes of nutty chocolate and a rounded, earthy, yet sweet aroma. Adorned with orchid and bird prints to fit the theme, our pots of freshly brewed loose leaf teas arrived, presented on stainless steel tealight stands. I later also tried the Japanese Hojicha, a rich, dark tea which had been skilfully roasted to produce sweet caramel, toasty notes.
Our first course was a selection of Asian savouries, which included a trio of siu mai (scallop, chicken truffle & pork) alongside a seafood beancurd roll and crispy prawn dumpling served on an elegant birdcage stand. To accompany our savoury delights was a selection of sauces; sweet chilli, soy sauce, and a spicy sambal.
This was followed by a Chinese New Year Prosperity Box, a gift of good fortune from Executive Pastry Chef Cherish Finden, which contained a variety of snacks, including some favourites from her childhood. It made me reminisce about the Chinese New Year snack trays that we would often serve at home to guests when they visited – having a sweet tooth, I was always drawn towards the Chinese New Year cookies and the snack table was where I would often strategically place myself close to when visiting friends and relatives! I was particularly fond of the matcha & passion fruit, and the pineapple sweet.
Our final course was the much anticipated Year of the Tiger pastry selection, which consisted of an innovative firecracker selection of hand-made patisserie, combining traditional favourites of the Chinese spring and Cherish’s signature flare. Following the recommended sequence based on the flavour profiles, we began with the Mandarin Orange, a symbol of good fortune; an orange sable topped with a Victoria sponge, orange peel, & marmalade encased within a creamy Mandarin orange mousse and garnished with a delicate tiger tail ‘leaf’. Next was the Fire Cracker, usually set off during Chinese New Year to ward off evil spirits and misfortune. This edible version was filled with a Pandan cream, a coconut dacquoise, & a mango and kalamansi mousse – this was my favourite of them all.
On it was the Chinese character Fú (福), often displayed upside-down, because the words for “upside-down”, (dào “倒”) and “to arrive”, (dào “到”) are homophonous. Therefore pasting the character upside-down on the entrance of homes translates into a wish for prosperity to descend upon a dwelling, a widespread Chinese tradition associated with Chinese New Year.
The Sesame Teapot looked almost too cute to eat, made from a black sesame shortbread topped with a black sesame cheesecake which contained a zesty yuzu curd centre. We finished off with the Chocolate Purse, based on Cherish’s fond childhood memory of Chinese New Year when she used to hide her red packets in her purse; made with their exclusive home-blended 67% Guanaco chocolate designed with Valrhona, with a gula melaka sponge, a lime Namalaka, and a chocolate shortbread base.
The Tiger Kopi Tiam Afternoon Tea will be exclusively available until 28th February 2022, priced at £72 per person or £82 including a glass of English sparkling wine.
Further information on the full menu and reservations can be found on their website.
- My afternoon tea experience at Pan Pacific London was complimentary – views and photos are my own.