One of the coolest things we did while in Vegas was have full service high tea at the Waldorf Astoria, formerly known as the Mandarin Oriental. They have a large menu of teas; both a mix of single origin teas, scented teas, some “traditiona” high tea options (Earl Grey, English Breakfast), and then some more out there herbal blends. Whichever tea you select is served to you in a large Western sized pot & then you get a selection of savory appetizers, scones, and a selection of dessert – all tasting sized portions. You can choose between their traditional menu and a vegetarian selection; we of course went vegetarian, since that’s what I am.
For my tea I chose the mango oolong; it was a scented oolong tea on a Tung Ting oolong base. I was really tempted to select something a bit more “classic” for high tea, like the Earl Grey, but I don’t really actually like Earl Grey that much so that seemed like it wouldn’t be worthwhile just to pick something more traditional. Other interesting options were Osmanthus Oolong (which is actually what the other person I was with chose), Shou Pu’erh Mini Tuochas (I was just kind of surprised to see them on the menu; but I figured quality wouldn’t be what I’m used to, and I don’t think Western is the best prep style), and one of their herbal blends called “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party”. However, I felt like ultimately this was the most appealing to me in the moment; still a nice tea but not something overly simple/boring/that I’ve had a million times and that I thought would still work really well brewed Western style.
It was actually really good; very smooth medium bodied profile. I will say, the mango was quite well defined and natural/realistic tasting (I guess because it was scented, and not flavoured) without being over powering. I still could taste A LOT of the Tung Ting oolong base, which was mostly quite floral tasting (orchid/magnolia) but also just a little bit buttery, and a little nutty in the finish. It would have been very pleasant on its own, however we weren’t drinking this one its own – we had LOTS of food accompaniments.
Even though I was actually thinking about food pairing when I selected my tea, I actually got one that I believe worked really well with almost everything we ate. Our savory appetizers consisted of three things: radish and avocado “open face” sandwiches, a croissant stuffed with a whipped creme fraiche and egg salad filling, and a bite sized vegetarian fresh roll in homemade plum sauce. The mango was a bit of a stretch paired with these foods, but the buttery/nutty elements of the Tung Ting tied in almost everything and made it feel connected. The only thing that didn’t pair super well, in my opinion, was the fresh roll – which was still delicious, but just not as harmonious a pairing.
We were served two kinds of scones; a classic one and a cranberry scone. For toppings we had clotted cream, strawberry jam, and lemon curd – they recommended strawberry and cream for the classic one and the lemon for the cranberry. The scones themselves were AMAZING; and the classic was easily the best scone I’ve ever had – still warm to the touch and so buttery and flaky that it was falling apart in our hands. We had to use the jam as an almost “glue” for it. Both tasted amazing on their own; but also worked with the tea. The buttery elements of the oolong base helped tie in the classic scone, but the mango worked well with all the different fruit elements in the topping – especially the lemon curd, which accented the tang/acidity of the mango notes in the tea.
Finally we had four different desserts: a white chocolate filled macaron, a dark chocolate “truffle” with gold leaf on it, a mango and mandarin “bonbon” that had mandarin jelly on the outside and mango mousse as filling, and a lemon custard tart topped with a mixed berry meringue/marshmallow. ALL were phenomenal and the presentation was to die for. Obviously the tea paired with the mango bonbon brilliantly, and the lemon custard tart for the same reasons the lemon curd on the scone worked. It didn’t go great with either the macaron or the truffle though, so I just ate those without drinking the tea at the same time.
It was an INCREDIBLE experience, and if I even find myself in Vegas again there is absolutely no question in my mind that I would 100% do it again. I think the value of the service was well worth it; the tea and food were great, lovely environment, and super accommodating of dietary restrictions.