While the ritual of afternoon tea is certainly very British, Britain isn’t the only place to enjoy the centuries-old tradition. New York’s luxury hotels know that sipping tea from bone china and nibbling on dainty tea sandwiches is the best relaxing and luxe way to spend an afternoon in the Big Apple. And now place in Manhattan does it better than the Mandarin Oriental New York, with sweeping views over Columbus Circle and Central Park West through the floor-to-ceiling windows in its Lobby Lounge on the 35th floor.
After my last afternoon tea at the luxurious Ritz-Carlton Berlin where a tea sommelier helps you choose your tea with sniffing boxes, I must admit that I was bit disappointed to select from a menu. I’m certainly no tea sommelier, but with as much time as I spend making loose leaf tea at home and sniffing plenty of it at tea shops I chose a tea that was as delicious as I imagined from the description.
Soon the first course arrived. A plate a freshly baked scones lightly dusted with powdered sugar were placed in front of me. They were accompanied by a homemade blueberry jam, orange marmalade, and Devonshire cream. I didn’t even open the jar of orange marmalade, which I normally love, because the homemade blueberry jam was to die for.
The tea sandwiches came next and they were like little works of art. There was a pinwheel of pumpernickel with smoked salmon, egg salad on a checkerboard brioche, vegetable and goat cheese terrine, and radish, watercress and cucumber on a brioche. The great thing about the sandwiches is each contains locally sourced and organic ingredients. I love that the Mandarin Oriental New York supports local farmers through the use of the locally sourced ingredients.
While the scones and tea sandwiches were delicious, the pièce de résistance is the tower – yes, A TOWER, of sweets. I asked my server which was her favorite of the selection so I knew where to start. “The chocolate marquise!” she enthusiastically declared. I’d save that one, along with the chocolate chai macaron for last. My least favorite of the sweet treats was the coconut green tea tartlette, but only because I’m not a huge fan of coconut. And, just in case you were wondering, both the macaron and the chocolate marquise were little bites of chocolate-y heaven.
Pot of tea empty and every last crumb from my tower of sweets devoured, I sadly tore myself away from the fabulous view and said goodbye to the Lobby Lounge. It had been a wonderful and leisurely afternoon tea experience that I highly recommend.
Know Before You Go
- Afternoon tea is served from 2:30 – 4:30pm daily in the Lobby Lounge on the 35th floor.
- Reservations are required and afternoon tea is $48 per person.
Disclosure: I was a guest of the Mandarin Oriental New York in order to bring you this story. As always, all opinions are entirely my own.