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When I was in Shanghai in 2002, my friends and I went to afternoon tea at the Ritz-Carlton. I don’t remember much about it but I do recall that it was a swanky affair full of delightful snacks and goodies and a little bit of tea. Since then, I’ve been to several afternoon teas, including the fabulous afternoon tea at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh.

Since we were in Shanghai for two weeks, Mr. Selfish and I figured that we would indulge in a couple of afternoon teas. First, we settled on the Ritz-Carlton since I had been previously. Second, we decided to go to the Peninsula since it is an institution for afternoon tea.

We did the Ritz-Carlton afternoon tea at Pudong (52/F, 8 Shiji Da Dao, near Lujiazui Huan Lu). There are apparently two Ritz-Carltons in Shanghai, and I think I went to the other one in 2002. I didn’t recognize the dining area at all, but it sure was swanky as well. It cost 288 yuan for one afternoon tea set. Mr. Selfish and I purchased an additional pot of tea for 70 yuan.

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It was a traditional three tier afternoon tea set. The first tier had a red bean macaron and pistachio panna cotta.

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The second tier had tea cake; raspberry religieuse; pabana tartlette; and guanaja caramel sacher.

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The third tier had the savory snacks – chilled sausage and cream cheese quiche; parma ham sandwich; duck liver mousse with onion compote; marinated smoked salmon with cream cheese and tomato; cucumber rolled with chive cream and white bread; and poached prawn with mango jelly. The savory tier was the best part of the afternoon tea set.

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The scones came out separately but did not have clotted cream. Mr. Selfish was quite disappointed since he was looking forward to the clotted cream. As an apology, the staff brought us an extra set of scones and regular whipped cream.

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We slowly munched and enjoyed the live jazz music. We stayed for several hours and even watched the sunset.

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As night time approached, the dining area changed its lighting and took on a more romantic setting. We decided to stay a little longer and ordered a cheeseburger and a bottle of wine. The burger was good but the wine was probably the worst we’ve had since we started this trip.

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Mr. Selfish and I obviously enjoyed ourselves at the Ritz-Carlton afternoon tea. It was all delicious, and the savory snacks were particularly yummy. The burger wasn’t too bad either!

Next, we went to the Peninsula (32 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Beijing Dong Lu) for its afternoon tea. Although the Peninsula did not have an epic view of the Oriental Pearl Tower, it was still set in a very lovely dining area. The live music here was classical instead of jazz like at the Ritz.

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The menu had an option of traditional afternoon tea or strawberry afternoon tea. Since strawberries are one of my favorite fruit, we opted for the strawberry afternoon tea, which was 270 yuan for one order.

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The first tier had a strawberry cheesecake, a strawberry chocolate mousse, a strawberry and lemon cake, and a strawberry tart. This was probably my favorite tier of the afternoon tea set.

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The second tier had traditional scones, rose petal scones, a strawberry and ginger cookie, and a strawberry macaron. Unlike the Ritz-Carlton, the Peninsula had delicious clotted cream for our scones.

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The third tier had chicken salad with strawberry and apple on an almond brioche bun; a citrus scented salmon gravlax with cream cheese, kaluga cavier, and dill bread; a goat cheese tart with balsamic and marinated strawberry; and an farm egg salad with cucumber and mustard on whole wheat bread. Although still very tasty, the Ritz’s savory tier was better than the Peninsula’s.

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Mr. Selfish and I enjoyed both of the afternoon teas at the Ritz and the Peninsula, but because of the view, I preferred the Ritz’s afternoon tea. It was a close one though. While the Ritz had a better savory tier, the Peninsula had better sweet tiers. Moreover, the live music at both were quite soothing.

If you visit Shanghai and wish to indulge a bit, I would recommend the afternoon tea at the Ritz or the Peninsula.