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When it comes to picking somewhere to have high tea on Penang island, visitors are spoilt for choice. From elegant hotels to cute hilltop cafes, there’s something for everyone…
High tea, also known as afternoon tea (and I use the term interchangeably in this post), continues to be popular across Asia. Whenever I travel to the region I always look for somewhere new to check out, and have ticked off some beautiful afternoon tea spots in cities including Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Siem Reap and Singapore.
I’ve now visited Penang several times, and although I haven’t been able to try every high tea spot on the island – that’d take a very long time! – I’ve researched everything on offer and decided to put this guide together for fellow lovers of afternoon tea.
So, with no further ado, here’s my guide to the best spots for high tea in Penang…
Blue Mansion, George Town
The Blue Mansion is a beautifully restored building which now houses a boutique hotel.
It was built by Cheong Fatt Tze, who arrived in Penang as a penniless 16-year-old, but over time became one of the richest and philanthropic characters on the island.
This historic building featured in the movie Crazy Rich Asians and is definitely somewhere special to enjoy afternoon tea in the city.
The high tea is served in the Blue Mansion’s courtyard, on stylish wooden trays and is made up of two savoury items; whipped Boursin and Caramelised onion sandwiches and miso eggplant and mushroom bruschetta, and five sweet dishes.
These change from time to time, but currently the hotel’s serving egg tarts, pandan kaya and coconut swiss roll, lemon drizzle cake, strawberry shortcake and chocolate truffles. Swish, and delish!
Afternoon tea at The Blue Mansion costs RM65 for two people, and is available daily between 12-5pm.
David Brown’s Restaurant & Tea Terrace, Penang Hill
David Brown’s Restaurant & Tea Terrace, on Penang Hill, is a popular spot for afternoon tea when visiting Penang Island. Far from the bustling capital of Georgetown and the tourist hub of Batu Ferringhi, Penang Hill offers visitors a cooler climate and beautiful views over the island.
The highest restaurant in Penang, David Brown’s is hidden away at the top Strawberry Hill, Bukit Bendera – a hill on a hill if you will – sheltered from tourists by lush greenery. Just a few steps up and you enter an oasis of calm, where the tea terrace is framed by trees blocking out the noise from below.
These are donned with fairy lights and I can imagine how pretty the tea terrace must look in the evenings. A long pond stretches across the centre of the garden, with beautiful lilies and fish flitting to the surface trying to grab a quick snack.
Afternoon tea is made up of the usual savouries, scones and sweets and comes with a small choice of teas. Savoury dishes consist of of egg mayo sandwiches, bruschetta, potato croquettes and tuna croissants. Quite a different selection from your classic British afternoon tea set up, but one that we enjoyed immensely.
The scones were your usual fair, while the sweet selection was made up of delicious Madeira cake, miniature crème brûlées, profiteroles, lemon tart and pistachio cake.
David Brown’s is a pretty little spot that I’d recommend visiting. The afternoon tea is a great price at approximately £18 for two (at time of writing) and at the end of the garden there is an amazing views, giving guests a great spot to get some lovely pics of the island while avoiding the crowds on the Sky Walk below.
David Brown’s Restaurant & Tea Terrace is open every day from 11am to 10pm. Afternoon tea costs RM98 for two people.
Topview Restaurant and Lounge, Komtar
For an afternoon tea with a view, why not book a spot at the tallest rooftop restaurant in Penang? The Topview Restaurant is on the 68th floor of the Komtar building in central Georgetown; the state’s tallest building and actually the 11th tallest building in the whole of Malaysia.
Therefore, it’s unsurprising that it’s three-tier afternoon tea comes with amazing views across Georgetown.
It’s made up of the chef’s ‘sandwiches of the day’, a savoury pastry, scones served with whipped cream and strawberry jam and an assortment of fruit tarts and cakes.
Afternoon tea is at the Top View Restaurant and Lounge is available between 12-6pm Weds-Mon and costs RM65 for two.
Suffolk House, Penang is a recently restored colonial mansion that makes for a super special location to enjoy afternoon tea in Georgetown.
High tea is served every day in the mansion’s Marble Room, which is spectacular.
On the savoury tier we were each given one cucumber sandwich and one smoked salmon sandwich – the latter very different from what I’d usually expect. The salmon was topped with a chilli spread that had a sweet, spicy kick. A really original take on a classic sandwich.
Beetroot isn’t really my thing but the pie did not disappoint. Fresh from the oven it was hot and delicious with a soft, crumbly pastry and packed full of chicken and mushroom goodness. I can see why everyone raves about it.
The scones were also freshly baked, and rather than raisins had small pieces of apricot in. These came with an interesting selection of jams: ginger and chilli, sweet cherry tomato, pineapple and rosemary and a classic strawberry.
The sweet selection was made up of marble cake, a fruit tart and classic and chocolate biscuits, all freshly baked.
High Tea at Suffolk House is available everyday between 2.30-5.30pm and costs RM90 for two people.
The Eastern & Oriental (E&O) Hotel, Georgetown
Full of colonial beauty, The Eastern & Oriental (E&O) Hotel was built in 1885 and is still considered one of, if not the best, hotels on the island of Penang. The only seafront hotel in the George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was built by the Sarkies Brothers, who off the back of its success went on to build the Strand Hotel in Rangoon and the world-famous Raffles in Singapore.
Afternoon tea at the E&O is held in the Palm Court restaurant, and also the newly refurbished Heritage Wing. Expect starched linen, silver cutlery, loose leaf tea in E&O branded china, and your classic English afternoon tea served on a three-tiered tray. Oh and if you feel like a real treat, why not throw in a glass of champers, or even upgrade to a bottomless champagne afternoon tea!
The savouries are made up of smoked salmon tartare on wholemeal, cucumber dill and cream cheese on a Pullman loaf, corn-fed chicken ragout gougeres and truffle scented egg on a poppyseed crusted butter bun. These are closely followed by a selection of plain and raisin scones, finished off with a selection of sweets including a fruit tartlet, mille-feuille and red velvet fruit cake.
An elegant dining area, exceptional service and delicious food make this a must-visit for foodie lovers, as well as those looking for a little peace, quiet and cool air away from Penang’s sweaty, bustling capital city. Personally, I think this could be the best afternoon tea in Penang.
Afternoon tea at the Eastern & Oriental hotel Penang costs RM88 per person for food only, RM168 with a glass of champagne and is even available with bottomless champagne for RM388. Available daily between 3-5pm, the dress code is smart casual.
Winter Warmers Tea House & Restaurant
Winter Warmers is a chain of English-style tea houses that you can find in multiple locations across the island.
It’s one of the more casual places in Penang for afternoon tea, but what it lacks in upmarket sophistication, it makes up for in comfort and size. This is because one afternoon tea, priced at RM 75.90, should satisfy two to three people.
The tea comes with two pots of green or black tea, and is served on a three-tier tray and kitsch china. Savoury dishes include a ham croissant, egg sandwich, chicken pie and quiche.
The afternoon tea also comes with a choice of cake from the fresh selection in-store, Winter Warmer’s famous rose scones with rose jam, a chocolate mousse, fruit mocktail, fruit ‘puffy’ and cookies. Oh, and you also get two pots of either green or black tea.
Traditional Afternoon Tea at Winter Warmers is available everyday between 12-6pm and costs RM75.90 for two to three people to share.
Where to find high tea in Penang
So there you have it – you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to picking an afternoon tea in Penang. I plan to eventually tick all these places off on my global afternoon tea challenge, but in the meantime would love to hear your thoughts if you visit any of these restaurants.
Oh, and if you have any recommendations to add, please let me know in the comments below!