Here are Hills Balfour's best blended experiences in locations around the world, to celebrate International Tea Day;
1 Traditional Japanese tea ceremonyPrince Hotel Shin Takanawa, Tokyo
In Japan, making and enjoying a cup of tea is an art form and a spiritual discipline. At the Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa in Tokyo, guests can experience an ancient, traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
Guests are led through a serene garden into a tearoom, passing through a small entrance to signify leaving all worries behind. They are seated on the floor while the tea host prepares and serves a Japanese green tea, called Matcha, through movements combining harmony, respect, purity and tranquillity.
The Matcha tea is served with sweets to balance the bitterness. People leave with a sense of calm and spiritual reflection. www.princehotels.com/shintakanawa
2 American sweet iced tea experienceSouth Carolina
Sweetened iced tea is legendary in the southeastern United States, and is served with most meals. In the south, the most popular recipe is for sweetened black tea poured over ice and served with sliced lemon in crystal glassware or jars.
At the Charleston Tea Plantation in South Carolina, travellers can learn how tea is grown, harvested and enjoyed.
Visitors can tour the 51-hectare farm to see more than 320 varieties of tea plants. The complimentary factory tour teaches visitors about the production of green, black and oolong teas - including samples.www.visittheusa.co.uk
3 A truly high tea at Observation Deck at 300 restaurant, Abu Dhabi
Travellers to Abu Dhabi can sip the finest teas while taking in 360-degree views over the UAE capital from the city’s highest restaurant.
Located on floor 74 within the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers hotel, the Observation Deck is more sophisticated than its name suggests, serving afternoon teas to all. The tea menu comes courtesy of luxury brand TWG Tea, featuring artisanal teas such as Crème Caramel Tea, a sweet and smooth fusion, and Silver Moon Tea, accented with a vanilla and berry bouquet.
The backdrop is special, with views across the Corniche beach, Downtown Abu Dhabi and the Arabian Gulf. www,visitabudhabi.ae
4 Sip a Long Island Iced Tea cocktailNew York or Tennessee?
The Long Island Iced Tea cocktail, combining tequila, vodka, triple sec, gin, rum and cola, is well-known around the world. but there is some intrigue over where the drink originated from.
The obvious birthplace would seem to be Long Island, New York, and here a bartender named Robert Butt claims he created the recipe for a 1972 cocktail-crafting competition.
But the Tennessee community of Kingsport, known as Long Island, attributes the drink’s invention to a resident who combined tequila, vodka, gin, rum, whiskey, and maple syrup during the 1920s prohibition era, calling his creation ‘Old Man Bishop’.
Legend has it the recipe was passed down in Kingsport, and during the 1940s was refined to become the Long Island Iced Tea served today.
To sample the cocktails stateside, head to Hudson’s on the Mile in Long Island, New York, and to East Coast Wings and Grill in Kingsport, Tennessee, for the original prohibition recipe. www.visittheusa.co.uk
5 Award-winning afternoon teaSt Regis Doha, Sarab Lounge in Qatar
This five-star venue is in the heart of West Bay in Qatar’s capital city, with sweeping views of the Persian Gulf.
The hotel features 12 destination restaurants including Opal by Gordon Ramsay, Hakkasan, the Vintage Lounge and Astor Grill, plus a rooftop bar and Sarab, a spot for a snack or cup of afternoon tea from a world-collection of over 100 blends.
As the winner of the ‘Best Afternoon Tea’ at the Time Out Doha Restaurant Awards 2018, Sarab’s menu offers a vast selection of teas, infusions, coffees, cocktails, and champagnes to recall the vision that Lady Astor inaugurated at Club 400 (now The St. Regis New York), when she would invite her grand friends to tea.www.visitqatar.qa
6 Discover Music City’s mysterious fruit tea crazeNashville, USA
Visitors to Nashville will find ‘fruit tea’, ‘fruit punch’ or ‘tea punch’, on menus across the city, from biscuit houses to burrito restaurants.
It’s a concoction of brewed sweet tea with orange juice, lemon or other juices, seasoned with cinnamon, mint, or lemon.
The fondness for fruit tea dates back to the 1970s. Local state legend Daisy King opened Miss Daisy’s Tearoom (now Kitchen) in Franklin in 1974, and served her first customers Tea Punch sweetened with pineapple juice. She was one of the first to introduce fruit tea to menus.
Today, Caribbean-themed Calypso Café has a version, as does Baja Burrito, while Knockout Wings, Star Bagel, McCabe Pub, Corner Market all offer variations. Locals order it with potato chips as a modern Nashville tea-time ritual. www.visitmusiccity.com
7 An indulgent royal afternoon teaFairmont Royal York, Ontario
Those who visit Ontario can sample afternoon tea at the landmark Fairmont Royal York, in Toronto.
The historic hotel offers a luxurious setting with amazing views, but the famous afternoon tea is the real draw. A tradition since its opening in 1929, the classic scones, savoury sandwiches and fine pastries served from its REIGN restaurant, are complemented by curated Fairmont teas.
For an extra special occasion there is the option to upgrade to a Royal Sparkling or a Royal Champagne afternoon tea. www.ontario travel.net/en/home
8 Tea plantation tour and tea tastingsSri Lanka and Ceylon with One Traveller
Sri Lanka is one of the largest producers of tea in the world, so ideal for teaholics. The tea country hills are often referred to as ‘Little England’, but mist-shrouded mountains and terraced tea plantations surround, while world-class brews are in abundance.
One Traveller offers a 16-day trip to Sri Lanka to enjoy the slower pace of life. It includes a picturesque train ride from Kandy to the plantations, passing villages, waterfalls and mountains, before reaching the tea estates.
Guests can sample finest Ceylon teas before being shown the tea-making process at the factory. www.onetraveller.co.uk
9 High tea at Chateau Mon DesirMaritim Resort and Spa, Mauritius
Take high tea in an exclusive ‘à la carte’ restaurant nestled in a colonial-style mansion. The restaurant was awarded the ‘Best Fine Dining Cuisine’ of the island by the ‘World Luxury Restaurant Awards’.
This venue overlooking the ‘Historical Ruins of Balaclava’, and the ‘Citron’ river offers fine International, French and Indian Ocean delicacies. Its high tea menu embraces the English tradition of afternoon tea with a selection of pastries, juices and hot beverages in an enchanting setting.www.tourism-mauritius.mu
10 Daily afternoon tea on a Cunard voyageIceland and the Faroe islands with Iglu Cruise
Afternoon tea aboard luxurious cruise ships is famed all over the world. Cunard, with its historic British heritage, leads the way.
White-gloved waiters serve tea from 3:30pm to 4:30pm daily. The famous tea with champagne is served at the Verandah Restaurant on Queen Victoria. Teas are from Twinings, and sandwiches are followed by scones with clotted cream and jam.
Iglu Cruise offers a 14 night no-fly cruise on board Cunard’s Queen Victoria. Prices range from £1,699 per person, to depart Southampton, July 11, 2021. Visits to Edinburgh, Reykjavik, Tórshavn.www.iglucruise.com/queen-victoria/11th-july-2021_c223982