Tea Off At HalekulaniCover Story Features
August 28, 2016
Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO
Amid our hectic, fast-paced schedules and daily grinds, everyone can benefit from taking time to slow down, relax and enjoy exquisite food in a tranquil setting. Afternoon tea service at Halekulani offers just that, while continuing to be part of the legendary hotel’s top-tier reputation for dining.
Tucked away in its own quiet corner of the main building, overlooking the peaceful and beautifully groomed central courtyard of the hotel, Halekulani’s tearoom is located in The Veranda, a secluded sanctuary that seems to be miles away from the bustling streets of Waikiki that can be found just outside the resort oasis. From 3 to 5:30 p.m. daily in The Veranda, a fine selection of teas and sophisticated bites welcome guests to an ever-so-pleasing afternoon escape.
“The Veranda is a place to really calm down,” says in-room dining manager Ed Hope. “We only seat five tables in the space and they’re first come, first served.”
Though the tradition of afternoon tea originally hails from England, it has been enjoyed in the Islands since the missionary era, even serving as an adored pastime for Hawaiian royalty. Halekulani, too, is steeped in history when it comes to its tea service, which dates back to the 1920s when the hotel’s previous owners, the Kimball family, would serve afternoon tea with famous popovers at the original House Without a Key — at that time an adjacent house on the property. Decades later, the hotel underwent renovations and reopened as the iconic structure it is today in 1983, the same year it began the afternoon tea service still offered at The Veranda.
Patrons will find tea-time mainstays at Halekulani — scones, sandwiches and petit fours — but each is served with unique touches of elegance only the resort could offer. “This is our way of doing it,” explains Hope, who adds that the setting and flavors are sure to be anyone’s cup of tea, not just the ladies’.
Classic Afternoon Tea ($36) delights with a savory array of tea sandwiches, including Ham and Watercress with Grain Mustard on Poppy Seed Bread and Smoked Salmon with Lemon Cream on Rye Bread, which add fun flavors to the more customary bites like Cucumber with Cream Cheese and Chives on Caraway Seed Bread. Halekulani brings in authentic double Devonshire cream from the United Kingdom to go with its freshly baked Currant Scones, while lemon curd and strawberry preserve made with fresh fruit from Kula, Maui, add finishing touches.
The hotel’s leading pastry chef, Mark Freischmidt, whips up a rotating assortment of tea pastries and cakes to accompany the meal. At the moment, Tiramisu Profiterole stands out on the tray with a mascarpone cream fit for the heavens. Tea host Joshua Palisbo notes that “there’s a pipette in the center, and when you squeeze it, it will inject into the center of the cream puff espresso and Kahlua syrup.”
Halekulani certainly puts its own touch on afternoon tea, but in some ways, it remains a purist — especially in regards to the quality of its teas. “These teas are hand selected for Halekulani, and we brew them correctly,” explains Hope, who suggests enjoying them as they’re meant to be sipped: nice and hot.
For those interested in adding extra pizazz to their tea party, Champagne Afternoon Tea ($49) features all of the aforementioned goodies, along with a glass of Halekulani Designer Champagne, as well as fresh strawberries and cream.
The first-class hotel also pays tribute to the Japanese tea ceremonies with a slew of matcha specialties. Enjoy a time-honored sip of Matcha Straight ($8), mixed by the tea staff with an authentic matcha whisk, or taste a modern take on green tea powder with options like Matcha Cappucino ($10).
“In the last few years, the tea service has become very popular, so we extended it to Orchids,” shares Hope. At the hotel’s critically acclaimed oceanfront restaurant, larger parties can make reservations for afternoon tea, complete with stunning views of Waikiki Beach, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. daily (except Sunday and holidays).
2199 Kalia Road, Waikiki
Dining reservations: 923-2311
Afternoon tea at The Veranda: 3-5:30 p.m. daily
Afternoon tea at Orchids: 3-4:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday