Did you know that Turkey is the world’s largest tea consumer per capita? The average Turk bought 7.54 kg of tea in 2014, almost three times as much as the Brits. Now that we have established that tea is Turkey’s national beverage, let’s review our first afternoon tea venue in Istanbul: The Pera Palace Hotel.
Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah, Istanbul
Overall rating: ★★★☆☆
Price: 85 TL/person for the Traditional afternoon tea
125 TL/person with a glass of Champagne
Tea refills: Yes; Food refills: Yes (buffet)
Seating time: 3 hours – 3 to 6 pm
Kubbeli Saloon Tea Lounge
The Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah Setting ★★★★★
The Pera Palace Hotel is one of Istanbul’s most iconic luxurious establishments. This 19th century museum hotel is sumptuous and conveniently located near Taksim Square, on the European side of Istanbul.
Afternoon tea is served in the classy and distinctive Kubbeli Saloon Lounge. Its high ceilings, nice relaxing terrace and general feeling of cosiness make it the ideal venue for a relaxing afternoon.
The live pianist is extremely talented and interacts with the guests by encouraging them to suggest songs in any language (e.g “La Vie en Rose”) and sing with him. Towards the end, he even sits down with somes of the guests to share a cuppa.
The Tea & Beverage Selection ★★★☆☆
The tea is served in a gorgeous custom-made metal teapot, engraved with the hotel’s name. The tea service is great: fresh cups and filters are brought with each new pot of tea.
While the tea selection itself is decent, the white tea was brewed at an excessive temperature (a common mistake), which resulted in a bitter unpleasant taste. There were also a little too many tea leaves in the pots, with no way to stop the infusion from becoming too strong.
My favourite tea was the “Splendid Earl grey”, perfectly brewed and a good match at every stage of the afternoon tea. Don’t hesitate to order more than a teapot of this one!
The Savouries ★★☆☆☆
The savouries are the most disappointing part of this afternoon tea: you will get a “Smoked salmon sandwich” and a “Roast beef sandwich” as well as a “Goat cheese & sun-dried tomato motchi/brioche”.
The savouries are not freshly made but served from a tray that sits in the lobby so the bread is dry, even if the fillings are nice.
The Sweets’ buffet ★★★★☆
I find it quite difficult to evaluate the sweets as this was my first afternoon tea buffet ever. Long story short, there is quantity and choice over quality and freshness.
The selection on offer is fine, with scones and many other kinds of sweets (tarts, layer cakes, macaroons, eclairs, etc.). However, in terms of quality, a buffet rarely beats fresh food served straight from the kitchen. The Pera Palace afternoon tea is no exception.
It may be possible to get fresh cakes with the French “La Bohème” afternoon tea but I did not get to try this menu.
The Service ★★★★★
In the Pera Palace lobby as in the Kubbeli Tea Saloon, the service team is professional, polite and speaks perfect English. The reservation team can be reached easily by email or on the phone at +90 212 377 4000.
Conclusion & Overall Mark ★★★☆☆
The afternoon tea at the Pera Palace Hotel is a safe bet if you fancy a relaxing afternoon while in Istanbul. The atmosphere and the wide choice of sweets are the strongest points, while the food quality is its weakest (especially the savouries).
It’s a great choice if you need a break while in Istanbul’s city centre, while the Four Seasons on the Bosphorus is ideal for a coast break when in Beşiktaş.
+: The atmosphere
+: The sweets buffet
+: Excellent service
-: The savouries
-: The perfectible tea brewing