Having already spent the last few weeks scrolling through my horoscope predictions for the year (the accuracy of Google sources remaining highly questionable), I was excited to return to Pan Pacific London to try their special Lunar New Year Afternoon Tea, created in partnership with Diptyque. Lunar New Year has always been a significant occasion for Executive Pastry Chef Cherish Finden, with this year’s seasonal offering inspired by Diptyque’s Orange Tree and Orange blossom scent – orange being a symbol of luck and happiness in Chinese culture.
Welcoming the Year of the Water Rabbit, the Bonsai Wishing Tree was once again decked with numerous red cards, ‘hóngbāo’, on which guests have written their hope and dreams for the year ahead. Having missed out on hanging one last year, I said a little prayer whilst I reached out on my tippy toes to hang mine onto a free branch – the predictions for fellow native rabbits may sound rather dire this year, but I’ve always been one to look on the bright side.
As a symbol to bring sweetness to the New Year, we were welcomed with ‘Gong Xi Fa Cai Chai’, a sweet tea with goji berries served in dainty teacups. Not long after, our pots of freshly brewed teas arrived, exclusively sourced by the Rare Tea Company, served in their elegant china adorned with orchid and bird prints. Slowly working my way through the extensive list, this time I opted for the rich and nutty Sunset Oolong, before moving on to the more delicate White Silver Tip. And of course in true celebratory style, we also indulged in glasses of 2018 Gusbourne Rosé.
Our first course was a selection of Asian savouries, which included a trio of Crispy Cups filled with fried soba noodles, crispy tofu, and aromatic duck, alongside a fluffy lobster bun with wasabi mayo and Singaporean kaya toast, presented on their signature birdcage stand.
As a gift of good fortune from Executive Pastry Chef Cherish Finden, a Chinese New Year Prosperity Box was brought over to our table, which contained a variety of snacks, including some favourites from her childhood; wasabi peas, caramelised cashew and macadamia nuts, tangy mango and calamansi jelly, matcha balls, sweets to bring sweetness for the New Year, and lastly, pecan cookies, one of the things that Cherish baked when she was starting out, to help pay for culinary school. I already have a list of favourite festive snacks to stock up on when I fly back to Malaysia – Mum has kindly made sure to order extra supplies as I’m known to be a constant grazer…
Ending on a high, was a selection of seasonal hand-made pastries, some of the most intricate creations that Chef Cherish Finden is well-known for. Following the recommended sequence based on the flavour profiles, we began with the lychee mousse filled with longan compote, two of my favourite tropical fruits, served on a red date sponge base. Next was the Mandarin Orange, a symbol of good fortune; a creamy Mandarin orange mousse, coated in a white chocolate orange balanced on a marmalade and tiger sponge base and topped with a chocolate leaf finished with edible gold leaf. Given a seasonal twist was a passionfruit and lime mousse with mango jelly on a coconut financier, topped with an edible disc imprinted with a cartoon image of the God of Wealth. Finishing with the richest of them all was a 67% Guanacoa mousse, a recipe especially made by Chef Cherish Finden, topped with a Dulcey crémeux and delicate chocolate chopsticks, served on a crunchy caramel base.
I’ve certainly had a fair share of sweet treats, so here’s hoping that blessings and good fortune will soon follow suite in the New Year.
The Lunar New Year Afternoon Tea will be exclusively available until 27th March 2023, priced at £78 per person or £88 including a glass of English sparkling wine.
- My afternoon tea experience was complimentary – views and photos are my own.