It's been an age since the three of us last went for tea together, so we decided to go all out at the Regent Singapore's Tea Lounge, which bills itself as providing Singapore's 'most elegant' High Tea Buffet amid bookshelves of 'classic literature' and 'museum quality art'.
The literary ambience seemed like the last thing people having tea actually cared about though. I rather liked the look of the large bowl that was on the shelf next to my seat, but no one else seemed to spare it even a passing glance. The shelves could have been overflowing with tattered back issues of magazines like at a hairdressers and most people wouldn't have noticed. (Tea Lounge could probably claim it was a contemporary piece called "At the Hairdresser's" or something. 'Museum Quality' is a very broad thing nowadays)
As usual, all attention was on the spread.
When we arrived at 3pm for the second seating of the High Tea Buffet, there was a long line ahead of us, so I left M & D in the queue and went to undertake the important reconnaissance mission of scoping out the dessert table.
It seemed as though I started a trend, because a whole bunch of ladies armed with massive cameras soon followed suit, and we surrounded the display of cakes and pastries like a pack of prowling hyenas.
The line gradually dissipated and we were seated in a corner by the window. We were told that we'd have a choice of two kinds of premium tea over the course of our session, both of which we could enjoy 'free-flow' style (I.E. They'd come by and top up the hot water every time you signalled). As usual, D got a chamomile, M got their iteration of a berry tea and I chose a pot of Lapsang for myself. We're terribly predictable that way.
The cups we drank our tea out of were lovely fine bone china pieces from a Japanese maker. It really does make a difference when you drink your tea from a beautiful cup - out of mugs, drinking tea can seem so ordinary, so perfunctory a gesture. But out of a well-crafted cup, it is easier to focus on the tea itself - how the colour stands out, how it smells, the feel of it on your tongue.
I love Lapsang Souchongs for the way the taste of smoke seems to curl and unfurl in my mouth, leaving behind lingering hints of sausages and fire. I think it's an excellent drink to have at teas, because it serves as an effective counterpoint to all the sweets that invariably make their way onto your plate. I present Exhibit A:
And Exhibit B:
As well as Exhibit C, for good measure:
I found myself particularly enamoured of the deeply hued Red Velvet Cake, but it turned out rather plain and healthy-tasting, owing to a dearth of cream cheese frosting. Pity, really.
Although they're not displayed front and centre under bright white lights, there's a good selection of savouries, also rather attractively laid out.
Between the two of us, D & I cleared out most of the caviar. The red caviar tasted almost unbearably strong, so we mixed it with the black to balance out the flavours. The crunchy slivers of toast proved an adequate enough vehicle for the caviar, but there was just something lacking, and it made the both of us yearn for blinis instead.
M & D both rather enjoyed the laksa, but D found the duck otah to be rather bland for all its exoticism.
We're utterly terrible with buffets as it is because we can't eat very much in a short span, and D always wants to rush off somewhere after half an hour. And then there was the compounding factor of me going to tea right after a lunch meeting with the 16-ers that greatly reduced my stomach capacity. So after just three rounds of food the three of us sort of sat there in a food-coma induced daze, blinking at each other.
After hearing how much the tea cost (It's even more expensive than The Line! How is that even possible?), I was determined to try my best to eat some more, but the only thing I could stomach were berries and marshmallows, so off to the fondue station I went.
Try as I might, I still don't think I managed to eat enough strawberries to cover the cost of the tea, alas. All the same, by the time we left, the three of us had to waddle slowly to the car, weighted down by all the food we'd consumed.