Having lived in England for 12 years, afternoon tea has become one of my favorite things in life. I can have scones for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and be the happiest person on Earth. I’m also a self-professed tea addict (hey, there are worse addictions). Needless to say, when I heard about the afternoon tea at the Hotel do Chiado in Lisbon, I had to carry out a thorough investigation with both my eyes and taste-buds.
My afternoon tea experience at the Hotel do Chiado was a perfect example of a Portuguese 5 o’clock tea: they have taken a British institution and added a Portuguese twist to it. Leave the traditional afternoon tea to the English who do it best; instead, create a Portuguese version and excel at it!
Let’s start off with the all-important tea: they are all Portuguese, which is a fabulous opportunity for anyone who is curious to try something new. I was intrigued by the maçã verde da Beira (green apple from the Beira region). Though not usually a big fan of fruity teas, I genuinely enjoyed how subtle and light this one was. Other flavors include Rocha pear, pineapple, orange & ginger, and cherry (each from a different region), as well as the traditional Gorreana tea from the Azores. There was even a wine flavored tea! Before I get too caught up in the food, I should mention the service: the staff were all very friendly and helpful.
After you’ve had a moment to savor the tea, the food arrives. But don’t expect English cucumber sandwiches – all you’ll get are sweets. The top layer of the stand had butter, honey, raspberry jam and gila (a type of Portuguese pumpkin) jam. If you’ve never had gila jam before, I highly recommend it! The bottom layer included 2 scones, 1 croissant, 1 mini pastel de nata (custard tart), 2 cookies, 1 mini guardanapo (a sponge cake with an egg custard filling shaped like a napkin), 1 macaroon, and 1 generous slice of cake (it was orange that day).
I’m ashamed to say I couldn’t finish it all, but still felt like I had gotten more than my money’s worth of the 10 euro price tag. I did, however, get to soak in the beautiful view from the balcony of the hotel bar – another reason why you should stop at this hotel. Although it was cloudy when I arrived, by the time I had finished indulging my sweet tooth, the sun had come out and the colors of the city came alive again. Standing on the terrace, downtown Lisbon with its countless red roofs lays before you; the castle at the top of the hill, straight ahead.
It’s only when you realize that you’re standing at a trendy belvedere that serves scrumptious food and drinks, that you realize the Hotel do Chiado was the best decision you made that day.