While the custom of drinking tea dates back to the third millennium BC in China, it’s oft said that it was popularised in England by King Charles II’s Portuguese wife, Queen Catherine of Braganza. It is believed that even marmalade was first created using the Queen’s very own recipe, with oranges from her homeland, Vila Viçosa in Southern Portugal. But it was not until much later that the concept of afternoon tea first appeared in England, having been introduced by Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford in the mid-19th Century.
At that time, the upper-class and society women would change into long gowns, gloves and hats for their afternoon tea, which was usually served in the drawing room between four and five o’clock. At Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon too this pause for tea has always been a fashionable social event; in fact, tea has been served at the Hotel since the grand opening in November 1959, when it was known as Hotel Ritz. It is partly that sense of heritage which continues to make it so popular still today.
With the arrival of the first grey days of autumn, filled with chattering guests and overlooking Eduardo VII Park, Almada Negreiros Lounge becomes the most coveted place in Lisbon to enjoy this ritual. Sit back, relax and enjoy as one is seduced by the comfortable arm chairs, twinkling chandeliers, the magnificent orchid display and Almada Negreiros’ one-of-a-kind tapestries. Choose from the Afternoon Tea menu and for a couple of hours, feel like royalty.
New Afternoon Tea Menu
Traditional tea includes the requisite finger sandwiches with smoked salmon and thinly sliced cucumber sandwiches, alongside fresh scones served with clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam, dainty pastries and cake on a gold tiered cake stand. But the new Lisbon, Almada Negreiros and Four Seasons Ritz Afternoon Teas are so much more than this. Afternoon Tea is theatrical: the glamorous setting of immaculately presented waiters flitting among the tables that are topped with pretty chinaware and silver tea services, and the resident pianist playing the soundtrack to accompany it all.
On the menu there are three Afternoon Teas conceived by Pastry Chef extraordinaire Fabian Nguyen with unique flavours for every palate: for the classy and more traditionalists, the Lisbon Afternoon Tea filled with typical Portuguese flavours, a journey through the county’s sweet treats; for the creative ones, the Almada Negreiros Afternoon Tea inspired by the artist’s modernist masterpieces; finally, for the fashionistas and hip crowd always looking for the next trend, the Four Seasons Ritz Afternoon Tea, brings new flavours and colours each season.
The tea selection itself also deserves a place under the spotlight. Served by the Hotel’s friendly waiters from gleaming silver teapots and poured into the finest china, the list features more than twenty kinds of premium loose-teas and infusions from all over the world, including tea from the Azores from the oldest and currently only tea plantation in Europe, a selection of white teas from Mount Fuji, green tea, matcha and sencha, traditional black and oolong tea.
Besides a wonderful cup of hot tea, to satisfy one’s sweet tooth on the coldest days, nothing is more comforting than the velvety hot chocolate with the Hotel’s signature chocolate, ChocoRitz – as rich in aroma and colour, as it is intense in flavour.
The three Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon new Afternoon Teas are:
Lisbon Afternoon Tea – The city of Lisbon and its flavours were the inspiration behind its conception: mini Portuguese custard tarts, pastéis de feijão (bean tarts), queijadas de Sintra (fresh cheese and almond tarts), and even some delicate sweets alluding to the traditional Azulejos (Portuguese tiles). Price: EUR 25 per person
Almada Negreiros Afternoon Tea – Taking inspiration from modern artist Almada Negreiros, his art works, the colours and geometrical patterns from his tapestries in the lounge, the Pastry Chef was motivated to create a delicate fine pastry selection that captures the artist’s essence and creativity, transforming flavours and textures into true works of art. Crisp yet chewy macarons in assorted flavours, creamy éclairs with their classic French choux dough and decorated with gold leaf, and financiers – all extremely colourful and of course, photogenic. Price: EUR 37 per person (includes a flûte of Perrier Jouët Champagne)
Four Seasons Ritz Afternoon Tea – This particular tea begins with a glass of Champagne, and every season, new colours and flavours will be highlighted, bringing something fresh to the traditional five o’clock tea. Price: EUR 45 per person (includes a flûte of Perrier Jouët Champagne)
About the Pastry Chef Fabian Nguyen
Born in the far west island of Vanuatu, in the Pacific Ocean, Fabian is a graduate of the prestigious Lycée François Rabelais. With a remarkable career path, Fabian started at Michelin starred Domaine De Clairefontaine with Chef Philippe Girardon, considered by many the best ouvrier in France. Four years later, he moved on to Le Buerehiesel, Antoine Westermann’s three Michelin-starred restaurant in Strasbourg. After Four Seasons Hotel Des Bergues Geneva, he has been with Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon since April 2013.