Shangri-La Hotel, the luxury hotel at Adelaide and University is in full swing of Lunar New Year celebrations, hosting a High Tea in honour of the Year of the Dog. While I’ve certainly celebrated Chinese New Year- growing up in Richmond Hill meant I was lucky to have good friends who invited me out to celebrate (fed me) but the customs married with a traditional High Tea in a sumptuous setting were knew to me, and my mini me, who happened to
be playing hooky have a day off school. We’re fortunate enough to be invited by Sonya, who was not only generous with her invite, but also her time, in explaining customs and traditions that we missed out on or not grasped the entire meaning. I’m confident my daughter learned much more at tea than she would have at school that day.
Toasting at the Shangri-La reveals a layered expression of decor, woven with a feast for the senses- a Koi pond bridge immediately enamored my daughter, while the gentle waves of intricate Chinese music streamed through the beautiful space announced I was in the right place. A stunning Wishing Tree perched above us inspired us to dream big (me- leafs to win the cup, the kiddo, a cure for cancer…truly she’s more mature than me…) for the new year, and Sonya was sage with her advice on wishes, and what a common wish for the new year would look like. She then surprised Caitlin with a ‘lei see’ for both her and her sister. Lucky indeed!
After a toast of bubbles- it is a celebration after all, tea orders are taken. And in true refinement, tea is served in Versace tea cups. A trio of pots arrived swiftly- Sonya opted for the Ancient Tea Forest Black Tea a bold black tea from the Yunnan region in China. I picked the Imperial Dragonwell an earthy Green Tea from the Fujian province while Caitlin selected something lighter, and on the fruitier side of things, the Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea and surprised us both by drinking three whole pots to herself! Dim Sum baskets are a playful balance between traditional- Ha Gow, Siu Mai, Cha Siu Bao (here, with tender Soy Braised Brisket) and a delicate Rice Paper Roll, here filled with marinated wild mushrooms. The brisket bao was my favourite, a lovely bundle of tender beef wrapped in a perfectly steamed bao. The next course, the temptation tower as I loosely call it, is a showstopper. The triple decker commands attention, and our lovely server took her time to carefully to explain each morsel. Steeped in tea traditions, the sandwiches were delightful bites, again, with a blend of Asian culture and flavours. The Ginger Chicken we learn is done sous-vide style, with gentle ginger notes and served on sushi rice. The Poached Atlantic Lobster Roll comes stuffed into a buttery brioche roll, and an Pacific Smoked Salmon with Trufffled Egg Salad makes all other egg salads obsolete. Scones and sweets, like the swoon worthy Royal Red Dragon Tea and the Classic Asian Lucky Spice blend Chinese flavours with British tea necessities, like Clotted Cream, Jam and in house-made Pandan Leaf Curd. Sweet desserts were sensational, like the tiny pyramids of Tofu Cheesecake, or the Black Sesame and Banana Cakes, Pineapple Yuzu Tart or Warm Ginger and Sesame Ball are all decked out and look as good as they taste. In true Chinese New Year celebrations, the Egg Tart is a requirement, and best saved for last.
Shangri-La’s High Tea for Chinese New Year runs until March 2nd, and runs $75 per person. Check their website for details on how to book.