Sat, Mar 13, 2010
The weather in Shanghai had been mild during my stay, a fortunate turn of events for a trip in the middle of February. However, today, as I walked to the JC Mandarin from my hotel, things began to deteriorate quickly. The outside temperature nose dived, the wind began to howl, and some dark and threatening clouds pelted me with rain as I slogged my way over for afternoon tea.
Ironically, and despite the weather, everyone was outdoors on this Saturday afternoon, and the city of Shanghai was electric with activity. The overall mood seemed positive and the activity level was high, as I continued walking west on Nanjing Road – soon arriving at the high rise JC Mandarin Hotel on my left.
The hotel has a highly desirable location in a very fashionable district of West Shanghai, directly across the street from the upscale Plaza 66 – an enclosed mall with high end retailers like Armani, Gucci, and Hermes. Outside, Nanjing Road West (Xi) is lined with fine watchmakers and jewelry stores.
As I arrived at the hotel, I was seated in Tatlers Lounge – a ground floor room just off the lobby that accommodates afternoon tea, but doesn’t necessarily specialize in it. After first being seated, the staff later invited me to move to a larger seating area right next to a wall of large, bright windows overlooking the main entrance to the hotel.
According to the menu in Tatlers Lounge, you can order tea a la carte with just scones or tea sandwiches or have the “English Tea Set,” which includes all of the traditional afternoon tea courses. I requested the full English Tea Set.
For your tea, you can choose one of the classic Chinese varieties – Longjing, Puer, or Oolong. If none of these strikes your fancy, then the Ronnefeldt Group also provides the hotel with Darjeeling, Orange Pekoe, Japanese Sencha, Jasmine, or any of several other herbal and fruit infusions. Again, being in China, I felt compelled to try the Long Jing, the standard by which all other Chinese green teas are measured. It was slightly sweet and slightly nutty, a fine example of why this is the most famous of all Chinese green teas.
On the three-tier tray, the scones were served warm and, in addition to the raisin scone, there was a pine nut scone as well. I hadn’t had the pleasure of trying a pine nut scone before, and it was interesting but with a very subtle pine nut flavor. The sub-title on the menu described these scones as “Snug as a Bug in a Rug.” The condiments served were clotted cream, butter, wild flower honey and orange marmalade.
Of the four tea sandwiches, I really enjoyed the egg mayonnaise with watercress on toast. The other sandwiches were cucumber, dill & cream cheese, chicken tarragon with grapes on whole grain, and smoked salmon with avocado.
On the sweets tier, the layered Golden Opera cake and crisp puff were notable, and the strawberry macaron was good for a last sweet taste.
The ambience was very relaxing with comfortable furniture, nice lighting and quite a bit of artwork on the lobby’s walls. According to the hotel, “Guests and visitors are able to see the grand lobby re-designed to feature a magnificent 5-storey, hand-painted lacquer mural of Admiral Zheng-Ho, surrounded by many golden-foiled pictures of the morning sun and unwavering waves. This famous art piece gives the lobby a sense of familiarity and history to frequent guests.”
The JC Mandarin Hotel presents a very nice afternoon tea, even though it may not be the main focus of Tatlers Lounge. The staff and server couldn’t have been more pleasant or accommodating.
Here is the video of my visit…