Tuesday, 27 December 2011

High Tea? Yes, Please!

High tea. If these two little words fail to pique your interest, then clearly you’re not female, gay or one of those rare creatures, the sensitive male. But if, in fact, you are in the majority that delights in delicate, beautifully-presented goodies and fragrant teas served in fine china, then listen up! I’ve found one of the most alluring places to enjoy this charming girlie tradition, in the last destination you’d expect – Thailand.

Located on the far side of the Ping River on Charoenraj Rd in Chiang Mai, just up the road from Riverside Restaurant, Vieng Joom On Teahouse makes quite the statement even before you enter the doors. The hot-pink double-storey building with gold detailing stands out like a beacon, heralding the ornate interior and its overwhelming colour scheme – pink. Which is not surprising, considering the name actually means Pink City. Barbie, eat your heart out.

Beyond the gorgeous tea shop selling blended teas and accessories lies an intimate lounge area spilling out onto a glorious garden terrace, protected from the elements by a pink silk-draped canopy. Groups of girls – both foreigners and Thai - sit chatting and laughing on comfy sofas and wicker chairs surrounded by burbling water features, while couples enjoy the romance of the river view on wrought iron tables shaded by umbrellas. If there’s a prettier place to laze away an afternoon in Chiang Mai, I’m yet to discover it.

The passion of a Chinese-born, tea-loving owner, Vieng Joom On offers over 50 blends of tea, from Indian masala and chai to locally-concocted brews such as the fragrant Chiang Mai fruit tea, blending rose hip, apple bits, hibiscus, rooibos, almond bits and vanilla. Teas are served hot or iced, the latter served in tall elegant glasses and bearing enticing names such as Lady in Red and Lavender Lemonade.

While an extensive menu offers vegetarian meals and desserts, most customers indulge in the teahouse specialty, high tea. Presented on a triple-level platter, it features petit fours, a selection of mini cakes, assorted sandwiches and fruit salad with strawberry dipping sauce, served with your choice of tea. At 495 baht for two, it’s not the cheapest meal in Chiang Mai, but the presentation, the ambience and the undeniable beauty of the experience makes it a worthwhile treat.

53 Charoenraj Rd
Chiang Mai

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