“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

– Henry James

A SPLENDID AFTERNOON

Those that know me are familiar with my hectic schedule. The week is filled with long hours of work that take me from meeting-to-meeting across multiple islands. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. Crazy as it is to some people (my wife included) I find a lot of satisfaction in being productive as a contributory member of a team.

As much as I enjoy the workaholic in me, there are times when I just want to relax and unwind. It probably isn’t a surprise that often times my preferred forms of relaxation include, or are centered around, good food. I think that’s why I am such a huge fan of afternoon tea. The no rush, leisurely pace of a tea service in a peaceful setting is relaxing to me. Fulfilling my love of food is the nature of a full tea service, which brings with it a variety of bites and flavors ranging from savory to sweet.

Thankfully if you are a fan of afternoon tea, or want to give it a try for the first time, there are several options around town. The last time I had tea I had gone to the Veranda at the Moana Surfrider, so for this most recent tea fix I thought a different venue would mix things up. This brought me to Orchids at the Halekulani, which has one of my favorite settings among the afternoon tea choices in town.

Views at the Halekulani
Views of the beach and Diamond head

The oceanfront property of the Halekulani is a peaceful oasis in the heart of the otherwise bustling Waikiki area. Orchids, one of two areas where afternoon tea is served at the Halekulani, has a large lanai area with beautiful views of Diamond Head and the ocean. The great view, gentle ocean breeze, and peaceful atmosphere is the perfect setting to enjoy a relaxing afternoon tea service.

TEA TIME

Tea selection at the Halekulani
An opportunity to see and smell the different teas available

Like many tea services, the Halekulani offers you a wide range of teas to choose from. The box of teas at the table serve as a menu of sorts, but also allows you to sample the aromas of the various blends available. The tea selection at the Halekulani includes floral blends, black teas, green teas, and lighter varieties like chamomile and jasmine.

30th Anniversary Tea Blend at the Halekulani
Halekulani 30th Anniversary Tea Blend

For this visit I opted to try the Halekulani’s 30th anniversary blend. This is a variation of the original Halekulani tea which was introduced in 1983. The 30th anniversary blend is a mixture of silver Ceylon and golden Assam, giving the steeped tea a mildly sweet and malty characteristic.

Scones and financiers at the Halekulani
Currant scones and poppyseed financiers
Scone condiments at the Halekulani
Devonshire cream, lemon curd, berry jam

Scones are a traditional part of afternoon tea. The Halekulani’s scone basket includes some poppyseed financiers. These buttery bites are complemented by a selection of spreads. These spreads allow you to mix-and-match a variety of flavors, from the rich Devonshire cream to the tart lemon curd.

Savory sandwiches at the Halekulani
Smoked salmon on rye, ham roll, cucumber sandwich, curry chicken

A multi-tiered tower of pastries and savory sandwiches is the visual centerpiece of any tea service; it’s such a fixture of the experience that I must admit I have thought less of tea services that don’t utilize this form of presentation. The Halekulani does not disappoint and presents a two-tiered tower. The lower tier contains a variety of savory bites. The salty and smoky flavors of these bites serve as a balance to the sweet pastries in the upper tier.

Desserts at the Halekulani
Chocolate, coconut kaffir lime cake, jasmine almond eclair

The sweet offerings at the Halekulani lean away from traditional to more modern offerings. These beautiful miniature pastries offered a variety of flavors and textures. I most appreciated the jasmine tea eclairs, which were not only decadent, but also provided a complimentary herbal tea flavor to pair with the brewed tea I was drinking.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS

The food at the Halekulani’s afternoon tea service was solid. Each element was well executed and refined, even down to the quality of the condiments like the Devonshire cream. The tea blend I selected had a fantastic balance of sweet and malt, which paired well with the variety of sweet and savory flavors of the food. The pastries and sandwiches are not particularly unique, but will be sure to please the palate.

The high service standards of the Halekulani are evident from the moment you pull up to the valet. The servers at Orchids are attentive and friendly. The pace of service is efficient, but never rushed or hurried, which allowed me to enjoy my afternoon tea at my pace. The atmosphere is my favorite amongst other resort afternoon tea offerings in Honolulu, combining the oceanfront and Diamond Head views of the Moana Surfrider with the quiet peacefulness of the Kahala.

At $36 per person, Halekulani’s classic afternoon tea is priced very reasonably compared to most other options in Waikiki which run in the $45-$50 range. This, combined with the first class ambiance, makes the Halekulani one of my favorite afternoon tea services overall.

SCORECARD

Food 85/ 100
Service 95/ 100
Atmosphere 95/ 100
Price Value 95/ 100
Overall Score 91/ 100

Afternoon Tea at the Halekulani
Seated at the Veranda or in Orchids
2199 Kalia Road
Honolulu, HI 96815
Ph: 808.923.2311
www.halekulani.com