Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Afternoon Tea at the Park Hyatt Shinjuku

During our week of fun Raku and I had our springtime afternoon tea.  Is going to afternoon tea a legitimate hobby? Because I love it!  We deviated from the "Top 5 Teas In Tokyo" list again, going to the Park Hyatt in Shinjuku, and I am so glad we did!  The Park Hyatt is famous for being the setting of much of the movie Lost In Translation.  The New York Bar has a stunning view and excellent (though pricy) cocktails and is a great place to take visitors or enjoy a glamorous drink in the evening.  Bonus points if you get in and out before 8:00 pm, because then you don't have to pay the 2000 yen cover.  

Since the Mandarin Oriental last summer nothing else had come close, but the Park Hyatt put up some fierce competition, and I'm still having trouble deciding which was my favorite.  They're quite similar in the sense that after each one I felt ready to float away on a cloud of happiness, but the actual experiences were pretty different. Both take place in the hotel lobbies with excellent views of the city, and window seats can be secured with reservations.  At the Park Hyatt only one person actually has the view while the Mandarin Oriental orients the table so both people do, but that's an incredibly minor detail.

At the Mandarin Oriental everything is about beauty and elegance while the Park Hyatt is more about creating the most indulgent and pampering atmosphere.  There are so many little touches that let you know how much they're thinking about your comfort!  We ordered the afternoon selected our first teas. They come in small pots with about two cups worth, so there isn't too much over brewed tea.  When our tiered tray arrived everything looked lovely, but a little sparse.  There were three sandwiches, three desserts, and one scone each. Our server quickly explained that our scone was hot and should be eaten soon, but that another set of hot scones would be brought out later. Additionally, trays of extra treats both sweet and savory were brought around multiple times and we were encouraged to take as many as we liked each time!

The extras constantly being brought around felt so indulgent, it definitely makes a full meal rather than one of those teas where you leave still a little hungry at the end.  An added benefit was that we were able to balance sweet and savory to our hearts' content.  Raku often feels inundated with desserts, and this allowed her to indulge more on the savory side.  Even better, everything we ate was delicious!  The flavors, textures, and colors were varied and all very pleasing.  We both agree that this was the best food we've had at an afternoon tea, although the Mandarin's is a little more artfully presented.  Our favorites were the strawberry marshmallows, mini croquettes, carrot soup, and cherry and pistachio tartlets.

Their black tea selection is fairly standard, and even a little uninspired, but their herbal tea selection was amazing! After one pot of darjeeling tea (which was over brewed and shockingly bitter) I switched to herbal tea and never switched back.  There were five different herbal teas and the very best was the Calming Tea, made with rose petals, lavender, and chamomile.  It smelled and tasted just like drinking a flower, but in a wonderful non-soapy way.  If you're looking for a afternoon tea for anyone that is sensitive to caffeine, this is the place.  Not only are their herbal teas fantastic, they also have decaf Earl Grey, which I've never seen before in Tokyo.

After much discussion we've decided that the Mandarin Oriental is more of a glamorous experience, but the Park Hyatt is more cozy and indulgent.  I'm still not sure which one is my favorite - maybe I should just go back to both? And next time I'll see if they sell the calming tea in the gift shop!

Park Hyatt Tokyo Afternoon Tea
Hours: M-F 2:00-5:00, Weekends and Holidays 12:00-5:00
Phone: 03-5323-3461
Address: 3-7-1-2 Nishi-shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Read About Other Afternoon Teas:
The Kahala Resort Honolulu
The Aman Tokyo
The Palace Hotel Tokyo
The Metropole Hanoi
The Ritz Carlton Tokyo
Tokyo Shangri-La
The Peninsula
The Mandarin Oriental (second time)
The Four Seasons Marunouchi
Hotel Chinzanso
The Mandarin Oriental

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