Please note that this guide was written in 2012, some information may be outdated.
Subtle tones of celadon green and ivory, triple-height ceiling with palatial columns, live music wafting down from the Minstrels’ Gallery performed by the Lobby String…it’s no wonder that having high tea here is every afternoon tea-er’s dream. 250 RMB or 340 RMB (with champagne) + 15%/set. Details here. For information on the Heritage Afternoon Tea, click here.
PuLi’s sun-filled lobby, an elegant space that feels a world away from the dizzying Shanghai city center, is a most ideal place to take afternoon tea. A gorgeous wooden lacquer box of cured salmon pretzel bread, pork pie, chocolate brownie, blueberry tart…each a mouthful of joy on its own, and all together they make a most charming assembly. 240 RMB or 340 RMB (with champagne) + 15%/set. Details here.
Located on the 87th floor of the SWFC, The Living Room at Park Hyatt is a bright and airy residential style lounge offering a commanding view of the city that changes as the sun sets. The afternoon tea set is a dainty selection of sweet and savory bites, each tidbit a pleasure to eat. This is the way Shanghai should be experienced: equal parts ease and panache. 218 RMB+15%/set. Details here.
The entire Waldorf Astoria oozes opulence, and its tearoom Salon de Ville is no exception. I wasn’t so much impressed by the food as I was by the plush, regal furnishings and the quiet, secluded atmosphere. With only 8 tables in the spacious room, there is comfortable distance between each group of guests, perfect for a quiet afternoon of private tête-à-têtes. 288 RMB+15%/person. Details here.
The atmosphere at Aura is perfectly vivacious. With soothing live jazz permeating the air, gracious waitresses and waiters waltzing around, and a commanding view of Lujiazui and the Bund (needless to say…) – this is a place worth lingering. Chocolate passionfruit macaron, lemon meringue tart, Jivara chocolate caramel tart, hazelnut financier with cherry, orange mascarpone with prune cake…198~268 RMB + 15%/set. Details here.
Every five-star hotel has its own version of the traditional English High Tea, but Flair Rooftop Restaurant & Bar at the Ritz-Carlton Pudong is doing something quite uniquely Asian. Prawn dumplings and California roll? Why yes. Spring rolls with tamarind sauce and vegetable samosas? But of course. The views from up on the 58th floor. 228 RMB+15%/set. Details here.
Andaz Hotel’s Hai Pai, a fusion restaurant with a modern Shanghainese spirit, recently launched afternoon tea service in both of its compartments. The Hai Pai afternoon tea (258 RMB + 15%/set for two) is definitely one of the more affordable hotel afternoon tea sets out there. What it involves: the savory and the sweet, the Chinese and the Western.
A boutique dessert and cocktail lounge on Sinan Lu with a divine orange chocolate mud cake worth your time. Dense chocolate cake, buttery caramel glaze, orange confit, and a sprinkle of sea salt…Each element is a little bit of joy on its own, and together they make an absolutely irresistible combination.
30~42 RMB/cake. Details here.
An enchanting 3-story tea house located in a converted French Concession lane house. Bright, airy, with light jazz on the background. A truly stylish retreat serving French and Chinese tea smelling so heavenly you can’t help but revel in the luscious aroma. The menu is extensive, so get recommendations from the friendly staff if you don’t know which one to pick. 40~70 RMB/pot of tea. Details here.
The alluring colors, fancy garnishes, and flavors that are out of the ordinary. Who could possibly resist such gorgeous creations? Try La Venus, a decadent chocolate mousse made from Araguani 62% dark chocolate. The smooth, rich, and slightly sour mousse envelopes a cube of vanilla bavarois and a scattering of crispy chocolate pearls and marinated cherries. 20~45 RMB/cake. Details here.
Order a pot of tea to enjoy in the store, or buy the tea leaves to brew at home. Cha Mi Living has a “book of tea” that teaches you the characteristics of each type of tea, specifying the brewing temperature and time . Or, just ask the very friendly staff for help – they are more than happy to give you instructions on how to brew the perfect cup of tea. 40~60 RMB/pot of tea. Details here.
A Taiwanese bakery with an attached upstairs cafe nestled on the quaint Shaoxing Lu. Comfortable leather sofas, natural light streaming in from large window panes, Ella Fitzgerald in the air, and most impressively – affordable and delicious dishes! I wasn’t expecting much given the tiny size of the cafe and the presumably small kitchen, but I was very pleasantly surprised. 40~60 RMB/dessert. Details here.
Cha & Living is a modern Chinese-style furniture designing company from Taiwan. Their Shanghai flagship store – filled with precious aged elm wood, thick sandalwood, bamboo, palm, lacquer – is a pleasure to look at from every angle, and also functions as a tea house. Try one of their 9 varieties of tea and accompanying Chinese-influenced tea desserts. 60 RMB/set. Details here.
Despite the prestige, I found everything at Godiva Cafe – from the drinks to desserts to decor – to be rather mediocre. If you are looking for really good chocolate desserts, I still suggest Hof or Awfully Chocolate. However, if you are in Xintiandi and are in need of a place to rest, Godiva Cafe is still a viable option. 55-65 RMB/cake.
A tiny patisserie next to Tianzifang serving cute little tidbits that have girls in Shanghai going head over heels. Skip the disappointing mini cake collection and try the signature durian cake or Napoleon (pre-ordering needed). 40~138RMB/set.