Sunday, August 1, 2010

Afternoon Tea @ The Social House, Jakarta, Indonesia

This Afternoon Tea took place at around 4 PM on Friday, June 18, 2010

I went to Jakarta the weekend of June 18-20, for a weekend of art and tea with friends who live over there. I was very lucky to have a group of friends awaiting my arrival, as I feel that to get around Jakarta and really see things in the city, you need to know insiders. If not, you will be trapped mostly wandering the massive sitting, and inevitably sitting in traffic.

After getting off my short plane ride from Jogja to Jakarta, friend and tea-partner-in-crime, Vero, picked me up from the bus station in Central Jakarta. After I dropped off my bags, our first destination was The Social House. The Social House restaurant, located within the Harvey Nichols at Grand Indonesia on Jalan Thamrin, is considered the "it" place to be in Jakarta these days. My attention was piqued by reading about their afternoon tea special. The wood walls and forested atmosphere make the environment comfortable and luxurious. And, the views are simply incredible! About half way into our tea, as the light was changing outside, the massive windows completely opened, making the restaurant into almost a full balcony! Gorgeous!

The tea set is so reasonably priced, as is everything in Indonesia by American standards. Vero and I decided to share one full afternoon tea (later, our friend Widya joined us and ordered a fancy latte...even with this added, the bill came out to under US$10!). I was a little put off initially when they brought out the tea pot...I saw a tea bag string hanging from the side...and then furthermore it was Lipton!!! If you've read my previous posts, you know how I feel about Lipton. I was shocked that such an elegant and "it" place was serving Lipton with their afternoon tea sets. But it was marked "Yellow Label", which means it is of a higher grade. So I grudgingly poured myself a cup and mixed in some gula (sugar). I was SO pleasantly surprised. I'm almost embarrassed to say it, but the tea was aromatic and light. Very refreshing. I guess the Lipton in Asia is working a little harder to meet the standards of Asian teas. This was a simple black, Chinese tea, but the flavor was spot on. Don't get me wrong, I'm not about to start promoting Lipton, but this was a nice surprise.

After some laughs and conversation between Vero and I, our three tiered server appeared. It was quite beautiful to look at! A rather modern set-up with all the appropriate, traditional servings. The light greens of the sweets really stood out.

The tea sandwiches included mozzarella and tomato on white tea bread, ham and cheese on focaccia, and a third that I cannot for the life of me recall! They encompassed a handful of upscale potato chips. All were delicious.

The scone serving was presented beautifully. Two sugar-dusted raisin scones were presented with pistachio cookies, raspberry thumbprint cookies, and cocoa-walnut cookies. There was also a generous portion of mock clotted cream and strawberry preserves. All of the mini cookies were delicious, my favorite being the cocoa-walnut. However, as I bit into the scone, something I highly anticipate in all of my tea times, I was sorely disappointed. The texture was fine, crumbly and delicate, however there was a strong tinge of lemony flavour, that I sorely disliked. The scones were too sweet and too sour, and the combination of those extremes did not satisfy.

The sweets course scored high points in all categories. The pistachio eclairs were to die for. The pistachio icing still remains in my thoughts. Very light and delicious. The mini tarts and banana cakes were sure to satisfy. And with a simple black tea, the combination of tea and treats all paired quite nicely. Vero, Widya and I took our time enjoying each other's company and the delectable tea set before us. It was a great way to arrive in Jakarta. It was particularly a nice change after a couple of weeks of solely Indonesian food from kaki lima (street vendors) and warungs (small shop/restaurants).

As the evening sun began to set, I looked out into the lights of Jakarta and felt quite content. "I don't ever want to leave Indonesia", I thought to myself. And I will be back. Certainly. Sooner, than later, that is for sure.

Thanks for reading!



  1. Me too, I'm not a fan of Lipton, but in Asia I can imagine the Yellow Label is more of a chi chi la la version. I love the Asian versions of such brands like Nestle and Cadbury...and Lipton. So novel! Yellow Label to match with the Black Label burger from Minetta Tavern, lol. Those pistachio eclairs look sumptuous. I need to visit this "it" spot during a drive-by visit to the 'Kart.

  2. Can we please go back!? There was so much more on the menu to sample! 2012, 2012. It'll happen fo sho.

  3. Hi there, are u ever try in ninety nine? ask in grand indonesia mall in jakarta same mall as a social house. They got high tea too. ^__^

  4. aghhh, sangat mau coba ninety-nine, tapi aku sekarang di new york. lain kali di jakarta aku harus coba restoran itu untuk high tea! makasih untuk rekomendasikan!!!

  5. Hi, ethan. I'm a big fan of scones, with devonshire cream and fresh jam. I have the best scones ever in a little traditional tea room in Cambridge (I go there with vero). So, if u go back to jakarta, u should try high tea in The Dharmawangsa or Huiz Van Welly. It's the best. But, also more pricey. maybe next time i'll join u with vero and widya. They told me about u. cheers.

  6. Yay! I would love to try both of those places! I heard you and Vero had wonderful tea in England! I will be back to Indonesia in 2012, certainly Jakarta, so we have to meet up for tea and scones! Thanks for reading! Selamat Minum!

  7. hey! may i know where i can buy green tea in jakarta?
    the powder one?