Tea rooms have always been about refined brews and quiet contemplation. While coffee inevitably comes with a side of easy banter, the tea drinking ritual can be both a communal and solitary experience. However, a raft of restaurants, hotels and cafes are not willing to make your tea experience a fuss-free occasion anymore. Instead, they are rolling out the red carpet for tea aficionados, and have a robust line-up of goodies to go with their tea. Predictably, the role model for a restaurant high tea in India is the British afternoon tea that is referred to as high tea in the rest of the world. An indulgent tea ceremony, the high tea almost always features cake stands keeling over with not only British classics like scones and clotted cream, finger sandwiches and petits fours but also Indian snacks with innovative spins.
Join tarot card reader Rea Krishna and Baker Ruchira Hoon for High Tea with Tarot at Dirty Apron on June 11 and June 25. There are tarot card reading sessions (20 minutes each) and a specially-curated high tea menu on offer, including Chive Cream Cheese, Apple, Walnut and Gherkin Pinwheel Sandwiches, Cheese Puffs Stuffed with Feta Mousse, as well as Yoghurt Cheesecake Mini Cups with Fresh Fruit.
The high tea at Café, the all-day dining outfit at the hotel is all about an elaborate buffet spread combining both classic English treats (read grilled sandwiches in multi-grain and other freshly-baked bread, burgers and more) and local Indian snacks, all washed down with a selection of unlimited tea and coffee. Nibble your way through assorted Pakoras, Dhokla, Samosa, Panipuri and Papri Chaat to get a feel of street food snacking. There is also a dessert buffet counter featuring Masala Chai Crème Brulee, Cinnamon Crumble, Baked Cheese Cake, Danish Pastries and more.
The hotel, with its exacting yardstick, has named its flamboyant tea service Afternoon Tea. The hotel offers a selection of freshly prepared Finger Sandwiches, Warm Scones with clotted cream and preserves, a variety of homemade cakes and pastries as well as a choice of teas. Healthier options are an intrinsic part of the menu too, and these bites are available 24 hours on request. Healthy favourites here are the Golgappas filled with sprout chaat and tamarind water, roasted chicken, mashed bitter gourd, caramelised onion foot long sandwich, and more. Tea connoisseurs are spoilt for choice as the varieties of tea on offer are simply mind-boggling, including some rare and obscure selections. There is the Autumnal, a unique tea with a hint of flowers, ripened fruits and subtle long-lasting aftertaste as well as Maestro Magic, the first-flush tea with strong notes of caramel and an undertone of fresh citrus blooms.
Food brackets tea time at ATM perfectly. Hence, its high tea menu has a bevy of savoury and sweet treats that are innovative to boot. Sample Brie and Tomato Éclairs, Chicken Quiche with Black Pepper and Parmesan, Mango and Ricotta Tartlets, Chocolate Praline Cookies and other elegantly-presented finger food. To drown the small bites, there is a mind-boggling variety of tea on offer (read Gin And Floral Earl Grey Tea, ATM-Signature Tea, Bistro-Blend Tea, Pure Camomile and Mulberry Tea, Floral Earl Grey Tea, Hibiscus Iced Tea and more). Incase coffee rocks your boat, there is plenty of choice at ATM. In fact, the coffee menu runs the gamut from Irish Coffee, Salted Caramel And Silk Coffee and Caramel And Honey Coffee to Ristretto, Caffè Latte and Caffè Macchiato.
Mister Chai, the Tea restaurant at the hotel combines the vibe of an Indian tea shop with regional street food. One can look forward to the custom blend in-house tea that is freshly brewed for guests. To heighten your tea experience, you can also order something called the Chai Ki Tapri, which will be served inside a tiny wooden cupboard and brought to your table. What’s more, there are three variations available in Chai Ki Tapri – Traditional Cutting Chai, Meri Apni Cutting and Kadak Masala Chai, that are guaranteed to satiate your tea cravings. But the real McCoy here is the high tea menu that is a smattering of regional dishes with a modern twist, including Namkeen Ka Dabba (read Ajwani Matthi, Curry Patta Peanuts, Cheese Fan), Wow Pao (a modern take on the Maharashtrian Vada Pao, with variations including not only the classic version but also Goan Chorizo Pao and Shikampuri Pao) and more.
Susmita Saha is a Delhi-based Features Writer. She has worked as an Assistant Editor at India Today and The Telegraph and writes on arts and culture, films, travel, food, architecture, design and various other lifestyle subjects. She has seriously itchy feet and plans to tick the world off her bucket list, one burger at a time.