Afternoon Tea in Paradise
The venerable tradition of afternoon tea is flourishing in the Caribbean, as posh resorts from Bermuda to Barbados entice guests with brimming cups of colonial history.
Not to be confused with "high tea" (a heavier, working-class evening meal eaten at a high dining table rather than a lower lounge table), afternoon tea is intended to sate rumbling stomachs until dinner — a relaxing social respite as the day winds down. Island chefs often add tropical touches like flavored iced brews and Caribbean breads and pastries. Some hotels limit service to their guests, while others invite visitors, providing a civilized way to gain entrée to elite resorts where the room rates are steep.
Panoramic ocean views provide the perfect backdrop for afternoon tea at the Rosewood Little Dix Bay, British Virgin Islands. The Pavilion Terrace, an open-air restaurant beneath four vaulted rooftops, serves innovative cuisine and offers sweeping postcard-worthy vistas of the sea from every table. Relax here for five minutes and the hustle and bustle of the real world seems light years away. About 75 guests per day have been enjoying this afternoon tradition since the resort opened in 1964. English scones, fruit brochettes, and local johnnycakes, along with banana bread and traditional accompaniments of creams and jams, are served with tropical mango melon tea, among other popular choices.
Tea time is a grand occasion at The Ritz Carlton, Grand Cayman. Popular with guests and locals alike, the exhaustive menu includes finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries. For little ones, the resort offers the Ritz Kids' Tea with hot chocolate and Nutella and banana sandwiches, and there are themed teas on holidays and a Teddy Bear Tea at Christmas. Tea is presented on Wedgwood china in the Silver Palm Lounge (named for the Cayman Islands' national tree, the silver thatch palm), and tea experts assist with selection from varieties like green tea passion, Himalayan peak Darjeeling, and Kyoto rice. Fresh-baked scones come with crème Chantille, lemon curd, and jam, and sandwich selections include lobster and tarragon profiteroles. Those seeking a beverage with a bit more firepower can opt for champagne cocktails.
Afternoon tea at the world-renowned Pink Beach Club in Bermuda is not to be taken lightly. Guests adhere to the resort's formal dress code: blazers for men, skirts or dresses for women. Presented at precisely 4 p.m. for the past 60 years, the service includes fresh-baked scones, biscuits, and almost any tea imaginable. Most guests stick with the tried-and-true, such as English breakfast, although non-purists can order — the horror — coffee.
Nisbet Plantation in Nevis has honored the tea time tradition since the hotel opened in the 1950s. Tea is served formally on the elegant Great House terrace along with scones, clotted cream, finger sandwiches, cookies, and cakes. Imported teas, like chamomile and English breakfast, share the limelight with such local infusions as soothing mint, lemongrass, and traditional bush tea.