What’s the difference between low tea and high tea, you ask? Basically, the difference comes from the height of the table and the time it is served. Back in the Victorian period, “low tea” was served on low tables near chairs or sofas, where people ate light fare such as finger foods to tide them over before dinner. Think of it as an afternoon snack. High tea, on the other hand, was served during dinner where a substantial meal was eaten and served along with tea. This “high tea” was consumed at the dining table, where the table was higher.
Stage Restaurant, located on the 2nd floor of the Hawaii Design Center, offers Low Tea on Saturdays, 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Low tea is usually served in their Lime Lounge, where lime-colored sofas surround low tables, right in front of their bar area. We were quite lucky to snag a table since we strolled in without a reservation. Service looked quite busy, as a number of us sat at tables in their regular dining area rather than in the Lime Lounge.
There are two options for afternoon tea there – low tea (which includes scones, assorted tea sandwiches, and desserts) and tea royale (which is everything included in low tea with the addition of a glass of Taittinger champagne). Note, there is also a gluten-free option for the savories and desserts, as long as you give them advance notice.
A pleasant surprise, in the form of warm hand towels, came at the start of the tea service. We were then given the opportunity to choose our tea from the 8 varieties in their tea box. We both chose light, aromatic teas. He chose White Mischief, which is a white tea made with roasted pomegranate seeds and guava, and I had the strawberry green tea, which extracts its flavor from dehydrated strawberries.
We enjoyed our tea in the tangerine bone china that matches the color of the building’s exterior.
Next, came the different plates of mini treats, placed on a 3-tier stand. The freshly baked pineapple-coconut and mango scones were accompanied by devonshire cream, yuzu lilikoi curd, and orange apricot marmalade.
We both enjoyed 6 different kinds of tea sandwiches:
Wasabi Crab with Bacon and Avocado
Black Truffle Egg Salad
Madras Curry Chicken with Apples and Currants
House-Cured Asian Gravlax with Shiso Cream in Puff Pastry
Prosciutto & Brie Pâte à Choux
Cucumber Namasu Sandwich with Dill Cream
The sweet treats included:
Chocolate Decadence Cake
Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Oatmeal Crumble & Mixed Berry Coulis and a Vanilla Bean Cookie Butter Macaron
Honey Lavender Crème Brulée
Afternoon tea concluded with another nice touch—the offering of a scoop of calamansi sorbet as a palate cleanser.
1250 Kapiolani Blvd
Honolulu, HI 96814
2nd Floor Honolulu Design Center