Three-Tiered Treats: Afternoon Tea in Tokyo

Lily Crossley-Baxter

While away a few hours in elegance with one of Tokyo’s best afternoon teas—because nothing says luxury like scones, champagne and skyline views.

A long-standing social tradition, afternoon tea is a treat to be savored, and if you can do that in a fancy hotel lounge, all the better. Featuring finger sandwiches, scones and cakes all served with the finest of teas, it’s become a go-to activity for birthdays, baby showers and treat-yo-self days around the world, and Tokyo is no different. Originally enjoyed in Britain as a light, social meal in the late afternoon, it dates back to the 1840s and was popularized by Queen Victoria herself.

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A perfect fit for the Japanese love of both tea and ceremonies, as well as all things “English”, afternoon tea in Tokyo has fast become a popular activity. Served by many of the top hotels and almost always with a seasonal twist, you can go traditional or opt for a more local feel.

1. Mandarin Oriental Lounge: A room with a view

Offering three tiers of afternoon tea, the Mandarin Oriental is very well known among those who do tea. With stunning view of Fuji in the distance across the city skyline, you can go all royal for an afternoon, scone and champagne in hand. The weekday option is by no means basic, with a selection of five mouthwatering savories, sweet and savory scones and a top tier of petits fours. The same offering costs a little more on weekends, but the premium is a truly treat-yo-self worthy event. With a strong flavor theme, there’s caviar, lobster and coulis to make you feel fancy, with scones and specially designed petits fours. Adding champagne tacks on a few extra thousand yen, but by this point, who’s counting?

Price: ¥4,800 (weekdays) ¥5,100 (weekends) ¥9,000 (Premium)
Times: 12 pm–6 pm (last order at 4 pm)
Location: The Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Nihonbashi
Reservations: Can be made online, required 3 days in advance for premium

 Oriental Lounge

Address:2-1-1, Nihonbashimuromachi, Chuo City, Tokyo 103-8328
Hours:6.30am - 11.30pm

2. Higashiya Ginza: Afternoon tea ceremony

Distinctly Japanese in content but with a classy nod to the traditional in presentation, Higashiya is high-end without a doubt. With a reputation for being one of the best teahouses in Tokyo, it offers a respite from the busy streets and an introduction to Japanese tea. The afternoon tea option is available in the afternoon and combines savory pieces like sushi, pickles and seasonal bites with sweet bites like cake and wagashi. This is a great way to feel fancy for an afternoon while experiencing some Japanese culture first-hand!

Price: ¥4,860
Times: 1 pm–6 pm
Location: Ginza
Reservations: Not required

 Higashiya Ginza

Address:1-7-7 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061, Pola Ginza Building 2F
Hours:11am - 7pm (last tea room order 6pm)

3. Captain Cook Tokyo: A sweet celebration

Afternoon Tea Captain Cook's
Afternoon Tea at Captain Cook’s | Photo by Lily Crossley-Baxter

Located in the international area of Hiroo, Captain Cook is a slice of British cuisine hidden up a Tokyo side street. On a mission to show that British food is “actually delicious”, they serve authentic but modern menus, including a rather impressive afternoon tea (at a very affordable price). With three layers of beautiful scones, pastries and fun treats (like the apricot and meringue egg!), mini sandwiches and an extra plate of desserts, not to mention unlimited tea—it’s a very tempting way to spend an afternoon. While the sandwiches are delicious, this one is heavily weighted on the sweeter side, not that we have any complaints!

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Price: ¥3,500
Times: 2:30 pm–5:30 pm (weekdays) 3:30 pm–5:30 pm (weekends and holidays)
Location: Hiroo
Reservations: Not required

 Captain Cook Tokyo

Address:5 Chome-2-37 Minamiazabu, Tokyo, Tōkyō-to 106-0047
Hours:9am - 10pm (closed Mondays)

4. Le Jardin: An authentic English experience

A real English-style afternoon tea served with china teapots and dainty tea cups, it’s the real deal here. Relax into comfy chairs and enjoy views of the garden as you tuck into the multi-tiered offerings. There are 20 kinds of tea to choose from; and you can change your mind as you like. Sticking to a traditional menu, there are sandwiches, scones and small desserts, changing with the seasons of course.

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Price: ¥3,800 (evening tea is ¥3,000 yen]
Times: 12 pm–6 pm
Location: Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo
Reservations: Only available on weekdays, can be made over the phone.

 Le Jardin

Japanese:ロビーラウンジ ル・ジャルダン
Address:2-chōme-10-8 Sekiguchi, Bunkyo City, Tōkyō-to 112-8680

5. Andaz Tavern: A dainty, seasonal selection

Andaz Tavern Tokyo
Photo by Jun Seita used under CC

One for the delicate among us. The portions may not be huge but the pieces are beautiful. With a new seasonal twist every couple of months, the savory and sweet dishes are served on a traditional tiered stand with tea. With a definite French flair, but the occasional Japanese twist, the offerings are refined and well thought out, replacing sandwiches with pastries and spoonfuls of flavor. If you reserve online, there is often a nice reward like a complimentary cocktail, so plan ahead if you can!

Price: ¥4,200 (weekdays) ¥4,500 (weekends and holidays)
Times: 2 pm–5–pm (weekdays) 1 pm–3 pm, 3:30 pm–5:30 pm (weekends and holidays)
Location: Andaz Tokyo, Toranomon Hills, Ginza
Reservations: Can be made online, often comes with a complimentary treat

 Andaz Tavern Tokyo

Andaz Tavern Tokyo
Address:1-23-4, Toranomon, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan, 105-0001
Phone:+81 3 6830 1234+81 3 6830 1234
Hours:6.30am - 11.30pm (weekdays) 11.30am - 7.30pm (weekends)

6. The Palace Lounge: A modern, Japanese twist on tea

To be enjoyed in the luxurious lounge complete with roaring fire and Steinway piano, this is not your traditional afternoon tea. Forget the tiered tea stands and get ready for some beautiful jubako-style lacquer boxes instead. Serving up international treats like focaccia and sushi, the savory options are a definite step towards a tasting menu. Meanwhile, the desserts are a nod to the traditional and feature scones alongside some Japanese flavors and French inclusions too, so expect matcha, delightful pastries and seasonal flavors. They serve an array of traditional afternoon teas, herbal options, aromatic teas and a selection of Chinese and Japanese teas. You can relax with an Earl Grey or a yuzu matcha, depending on how you feel.

Price: ¥4,200 or ¥6,000 with a glass of champagne
Times: 1 pm–4:30 pm (weekdays), 2 pm–4:30 pm (weekends and holidays)
Location: The Palace Hotel, Marunouchi
Reservations: Accepted for weekday slots between 1 pm–3 pm

 The Palace Lounge

Japanese:ザ パレス ラウンジ
Address:1 Chome-1-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 100-0005
Hours:10am - 12am

7. The French Kitchen: A themed buffet experience

Here, you can choose one of three Art of Tea options. There’s also a different theme every two months, even though they say every month. As you can guess from the name, the food menu offers a selection of French-style treats and savory items, all focusing on a single theme. (Past themes included matcha sourced from Uji in Kyoto or a nod to their 15th anniversary.)

Price: ¥3,800 (weekdays), ¥4,200 (weekends and holidays)
Times: 3 pm–5:30 pm (Last order 4 pm, sweets buffet 3 pm–5 pm)
Location: The Grand Hyatt Hotel Tokyo, Roppongi
Reservations: Can be made online

 French Kitchen

Grand Hyatt Tokyo breakfast
Japanese:フレンチ キッチン
Address:6 Chome-10-3 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 106-0032
Hours:6.30am - 9.30am

Also check out these Japanese teahouses for a more traditional tea break.

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Filed under: Eating & Drinking
Tags: Afternoon Tea, Desserts, High Tea, Matcha, Sweets, Tea
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