Shanghai's best afternoon teas

From classic tea sets to dim sum style we put the best high teas to test
Shanghai's best afternoon teasSunday tea jazz at Fairmont Peace Hotel
First published on 4 Apr 2012. Updated on 10 Apr 2015.

From classic afternoon tea at The Peninsula hotel to a gorgeous Chinese version at Maison de l'Hui, Shanghai doesn't lack for afternoon tea options. Time Out put them to the test

The Park Hyatt

How much 210RMB/person plus 15 per cent service charge

When 2-6pm daily

Where The Living Room on the 87th floor lobby of the second-highest hotel in the world. Some tables have views that look out over the top of the Jinmao Tower, so book a window seat.

What you get A two-tier stand accompanied by an elegant china tea set painted with poppy heads. You can choose tea, coffee or one of the fresh juice blends. Savouries include a house-smoked salmon sandwich with Boursin on laugen bread and a mini gammon and brie panini. The sweets have French accents, with an orange cream financier, Cassis macaron and moist cannelé.

Verdict A delectable tea with jawdropping views – and it’s not ridiculously expensive. This is where we bring our favourite visitors if we want to impress.

The Park Hyatt Shanghai World Financial Center, 100 Century Avenue See address details

The Peninsula

How much 290RMB a 15 per cent service charge, 440RMB with champagne

When 2-6pm daily

Where The tinkling of a live piano wafts through The Peninsula’s light-filled Art Deco lobby at high tea time – a place to see and be seen.

What you get Lovingly presented across three tiers and in elegant silver and porcelain, this is afternoon tea with exquisite attention to detail. Savouries include a bite-sized mushroom and truffle quiche, a cucumber sandwich presented as a sushi roll, and a layered smoked salmon sandwich sprinkled with capers. Two types of scone are served with clotted cream, strawberry jam and lemon curd, while a mini cheesecake and a so-moist-it-melts raspberry macaron compete for our favourite sweet. Book through 2327 2888 ext 1699.

Verdict With its opulent Art Deco setting, stunning eats and near-perfect service, The Peninsula offers the quintessential Shanghai afternoon tea.

The Peninsula 32 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Beijing Dong Lu See address details

The Waldorf Astoria

How much 338RMB/person plus 15 per cent service charge

When 2-6pm daily

Where The Waldorf’s intimate first floor Salon de Ville – the ‘news room’ of the Shanghai Club of old – is now clustered with Baroque furniture, gilt-framed oil paintings and draped in red velvet curtains.

What you get A three-tier stand crowded with delicate morsels. The highlight of the bottom plate, which includes a bacon quiche, curry puff and salmon cream cheese roll, is the delicate cucumber sandwich (sans crusts), which comes with mayonnaise and a slice of tomato.. Buttery scones are served with vanilla cream and homemade strawberry or blueberry jam. Of the sweets, the Waldorf’s signature Red Velvet cupcake is slightly dry, and is outshone by a mini custard tartlet that’s topped with fresh mangoes.

Verdict An afternoon tea worthy of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novella. The grand Bund setting, discreet-yet-omnipresent service and moreish eats makes this one of the best teas in town.

Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund 2 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Guangdong Lu See address details

Shen Yue Xuan

How much 98RMB/two people

When 2-4.30pm Mon-Fri

Where The popular Cantonese restaurant set on the verdant grounds of Dingxiang Gardens.

What you get Order dim sum dishes such as the shrimp dumplings are tasty and plump but a bit oversteamed, while the fruit salad comes squiggled with mayonnaise unless you request otherwise. Long boiled duck soup is good and the black pepper beef ribs are chewy and juicy.

Verdict Though the food is only decent, the very friendly service and lovely natural setting make this affordable tea worthwhile. From the floor-to-ceiling window you look out on green lawn, a pond with pagoda and scholar’s rocks, spreading magnolias and tile-roofed villas. No set menus available.

Shen Yue Xuan 849 Huashan Lu, near Wukang Lu. See address details

Maison de l'Hui

How much 158RMB/person plus 10 per cent service charge

When 2-4pm daily

Where A magnificent and imposing three-story mansion once owned by Shanghai’s most infamous gangster Du Yuesheng.

What you get A three-tier stand of eight most exquisite Chinese dainties we’ve tasted, from walnut pastry to steamed red date cake. The silken almond custard and luscious mango pudding are truly stellar. You also get a choice of tea or coffee.

Verdict This is an exceptional setting for a meal, and during the afternoons there’s nary a soul here so you get an entire mansion to yourself. On a fine day, take the third floor terrace, on a rainy one, a grand private room. Note that desserts vary everyday.

Maison de L'Hui
168 Julu Lu, near Chengdu Nan Lu.See address details

Yongfoo Elite

How much 188RMB/person or 288RMB/person

When 2-5.30pm daily

Where The historic villa which was once the British Consulate, now painstakingly and opulently decorated by the eccentric and talented restauranteur, designer and antique collector Wang Xingzheng.

What you get They are now serving Chinese dim sum dishes. The sugar cookies are no long available.

Verdict A crying shame. This is one of the most extraordinary villas and gardens in the French Concession. If this place had a good chef and manager, there would be a waiting list. As it is, it’s mostly empty. It’s more than worth a visit to tour the grounds, but there’s little reason to sit down.

Yongfoo Elite 2 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Guangdong Lu. See address details

Bali Laguna

How much 75RMB/person includes a five per cent service charge

When 2.30-5.30 Mon-Fri; 2.30-5pm Sat-Sun

Where Nestled beside a lily pond in green Jingan Park, this Southeast Asian restaurant has one of the loveliest natural locations in the CBD.

What you get A soft drink, juice or coffee plus your choice of two miniature appetisers from a list of mostly deep-fried foods like shrimp spring rolls, and two desserts including a bite-sized banana cake. Service is passable when you can get it, but staff clearly lack management.

Verdict Though the offerings are uninspired, this is a price we’re willing to pay to sit by this lotus-covered pond in the shade of a white umbrella and watch the busy Shanghai park goers among the weeping willows and pine trees.

Bali Laguna 189 Huashan Lu, near Yanan Lu, See address details

The Langham

How much 280RMB plus a 15 per cent service or 688RMB (designed by Damiani, a jewelry shop) with chocolate stilettos

When 2-5pm daily

Where Cachet, the lobby lounge of the sleek Xintiandi boutique hotel The Langham.

What you get A selection of savoury and sweet temptations including mini croissant, foie gras, macaroons, cakes, tartlets, profiteroles and traditional cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches, plus a glass of Champagne or tea or coffee, with over 40 varieties of tea to choose from.

Langham Xintiandi 99 Madang Lu, near Taicang Lu, See address details

Fairmont Peace Hotel


How much 298RMB/person including free flow of tea, coffee and soft drinks; 368RMB/person including one glass of champagne as well. All prices are subject to a 15 per cent service charge

When 2:30-5:30pm every Sunday

Where Jasmine Lounge right next to the Jazz Bar inside the hotel

What you get Freshly baked buttermilk scones with homemade fruit preserves and clotted cream, tea sandwiches and French pastries on tiered silver tea stands, along with premium tea served in exquisite porcelain pots while listening to classic swing sounds from the Old Jazz Band.

Fairmont Peace Hotel 20 Nanjing Dong Lu, near Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu See full address details


Posted by : extensa on 28/03/2012 17:16:45
Is it worth paying sooo much for afernoon teas??certain prices are same as a buffet dinner,where u will be able to enjoy ur tea and pastries....
Posted by : Ginkgobiloba on 11/08/2011 17:01:47
Wanting to take an out of town guest to something a bit more interesting than the standard Western hotel tea, we followed Ms. Mo"s recommendation of Maison de L"Hui and were not disappointed. The Chinese bites were lovely--a nice balance of both flavors (savory and sweet) and textures (crunchy and creamy)and the portions were generous without being overwhleming. My favorite was the classic luobosibing. For 128 RMB, we thought we got a great value. Again, we were not looking for a 5-star hotel experience and while the exterior of the building appeared a bit questionable, the interior ambience was charming and the service attentive. Will definitely return when I have more time to lounge on their lovely terrace.
Posted by : Green frog on 08/08/2011 16:32:57
So we are here at maison de l"hui.... It was a total mistake... As soon as we got off the taxi on julu lu, we thought "uh-oh" and wanted to cancel. But we also thought "maybe the tea maybe good". Well, we should have left. We were very excited about it because the article above introduced it as "best chinese", well it might as well be best chinese considering the fact that they like to fry everything. Their walnut and peanut pastries are fried and taste the same although they come in these cute shapes. Rice cake=fried rice deep fried into a cake form.. Mediocre coffee and tea in ugly glass and mugs (i expected sth like nice porceline tea set)... For RMB 128, it was a total waste. I would never ever recommend it to anybody.
Posted by : Gerard Woodward on 12/07/2011 23:21:49
Regarding the Langham write-up, there is no such thing as "open finger sandwiches". Do Ms Mo and Davison mean open-faced finger sandwiches?



Subscribe to Time Out Shanghai newsletter