I firmly believe that the way you kick off a new year sets the energy and tone for the months that follow. That’s why – regardless of the traditions I celebrate in this multicultural city of ours – I make sure to do two things when I ring in a new year: surround myself with those I love AND indulge in as many decadent treats as humanly possible. I recently had a chance to do just that at one of Toronto’s finest luxury hotels. Having missed last year’s much talked about Chinese New Year High Tea at the Shangri-La Hotel, I was eager to spend an afternoon nibbling on specialty items and sipping warm tea by the fireplace with my BFF…
Dotted with red accents and intricate Chinese decor, the Lobby Lounge was filled with sounds of laughter as guests joyously welcomed the new lunar year. We were fortunate enough to arrive just as the traditional lion dance made its way around the hotel. Everywhere I looked something captivated my imagination: a lively fireworks display kicked off the ceremony and agile performers danced to the beat of drums in an effort to drive away negative spirits and bestow good fortune.
As we settled into our seats after the energetic ceremony, we were greeted by our server and presented with a tea menu. Ah yes, the most difficult decision I face every time I have tea at the Shangri-La. Why? Because there are over 75 premium teas to choose from: black, herbal, green, white (ranging from $7.50 – $50 per cup for the finer quality/rare teas)! It’s basically tea heaven…
After much deliberation, I went with the Ancient Tea Forest from Yunnan, China. I’d highly recommend the robust and earthy tea — it really hit the spot on a cold winter’s day…
Thankfully, the Chinese New Year High Tea (available only Feb 8th-21st) is a preset menu or else I’d be there all afternoon deciding what to order (a problem I often face at Bosk, the Shangri-La’s signature restaurant)! Featuring sweet and savoury bites, we were really impressed by the selection of items on the special menu:
Sandwiches & Savouries
- Poached Atlantic lobster with citrus crème fraiche on brioche roll
- Pacific smoked salmon with truffle egg mayonnaise on wholemeal bread
- Rice paper roll with marinated wild mushrooms, coriander shoots and ginger emulsion
- Pork and shrimp crispy fried dumpling
- Warm BBQ pork-filled puff pastry turnover
Warm Oven-Baked Scones
- Classic English scones served with Cornish clotted cream, house-made pandan leaf curd and strawberry jam
Afternoon Tea Pastries
- Tropical bombe (a passion fruit bavarois, calamansi centre and coconut crunch)
- Milk chocolate and chestnut verrine (candied chestnut puree, milk chocolate crémeux and chestnut sable)
- Matcha & red bean roll (matcha tea sponge, red bean reduction, green tea buttercream and mandarin gelée)
- Warm sesame balls (crispy glutinous rice, lotus seed paste and toasted golden sesame seeds)
Everything was beautifully executed, but the tropical bombe, house-made pandan leaf curd, milk chocolate and chestnut verrine and the warm sesame balls stole the show in my books…
Stuffed, happy and caffeinated, we peeled ourselves off the chairs and reluctantly parted from our cozy abode. But the indulgence didn’t end there: guests are given a special takeaway creation from the chef at the end of the Chinese New Year High Tea…
A sweet start to the year of the monkey, right?! Since tea is such an essential part of Chinese culture, I really felt the Chinese New Year High Tea at the Shangri-La was a great way to honour the special occasion. It is definitely an experience I’d recommend and one I hope to make a tradition for years to come. If you’d like to give it a try, book your table now — at $44/adult the resos are going to fly! Wishing you all a very happy new year. Gong Xi Fa Cai!
Special thanks to Shangri-La Hotel for hosting us for Chinese New Year High Tea. As always, all reviews and opinions are entirely my own.