Amongst my many and several vices, a fondness for afternoon tea comes very high on the list. Right up there with gin.
Given its colonial past I suppose it should be no surprise that top notch afternoon tea is quite easy to find in Sri Lanka. I had a particularly splendid one at the Amangalla Hotel in Galle a few days ago and was reminded of my first, and favourite, Sri Lankan afternoon tea.
In April I spent a few days in Colombo and took tea in the colonial splendour of the Galle Face Hotel. Built in 1864 and claiming to be one of the oldest hotels east of Suez, the Galle Face sits right on the ocean in the oldest part of the city. Taking afternoon tea in the Verandah Restaurant is a time shift back to the 1930s as you sit on wicker chairs in the gentle ocean breeze attended on by immaculately uniformed waiters. The tea itself starts confusingly with a glass of iced coffee and consists of the usual three tiers of savouries, scones, cakes and tarts and of course endless tea. For those for whom this is not enough a savoury buffet is also included although I, unusually, was defeated just by the three tiers so did not even peruse the buffet let alone partake.
Timing is everything at the Galle Face and you must make sure to be there just before dusk so that you can witness the lowering of the Sri Lankan flag which flutters proudly in the ocean breeze amongst the palms. This is done with great ceremony with a bagpiper escort and is a perfect timeless epilogue to a perfect timeless afternoon.