At Amanjiwo, the ultra-luxury hotel in Central Java overlooking the Unesco World Heritage Site of Borobudur, daily afternoon tea infuses a decidedly British tradition with Indonesian flavours.
Showcasing local cuisine, aromatic spices, and a selection of exquisite cakes that entice guests to explore the island’s culture, this is a must-do experience for guests at the resort.
In its sweet cuisine, Indonesia uses a unique palette of flavours, ranging from coconut to fragrant pandan and the rich, molasses-like sweetness of palm sugar.
There’s no better place to sample them than on Amanjiwo’s elevated terrace, looking out over lush forests and the stone stupas of Borobudur temple on one side, and the majestic silhouette of volcanic mountains fringed by palm trees on the other.
Designed by the legendary architect Ed Tuttle with reverence for the local culture, the hotel’s coral limestone facade draws inspiration from the architecture of nearby Borobudur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world.
Afternoon tea can also be enjoyed in the comfort of guests’ own suites, or by the swimming pool terrace. In the rainy season, there’s an option to sit under Amanjiwo’s main dome, where the resonant melody of traditional music accompanies the gentle sound of rainfall.
Afternoon tea is complimentary for all guests once every day, and can be taken between 3 and 5pm, although the staff will generously forgive you if you’re a little bit late.
During our visit, the selection is served by Matias, the hotel’s Swiss-Malaysian food and beverage intern, who explains that the majority of staff are from local villages – and many have been around since the property opened in 1997.
The crockery, including a beautiful teapot crafted by local potters in a traditional Javanese designs, is sourced from artisans a stone’s throw from the hotel.
Each of the simple cakes presented is a different flavour, and each a masterpiece. Although the selection is small, refills are not only available but readily encouraged.
Among the delicacies, you’ll find the soft, aromatic pandan cake with its crown of coconut, a rich, moist rice flour cake that surprises with an inner layer of sweet coconut shavings, and a pink rice flour cake, delightfully gelatinous, served in a comforting bowl of milk sweetened with a swirl of brown sugar.
The tea is a punchy blend mixing the warmth of star anise, the spice of ginger, the citrusy note of lemongrass, the sweetness of nutmeg, and a hint of local basil, rounding out an infusion that complements the cakes and the scenic backdrop alike.
As the afternoon tea experience draws to a close and the sun dips lower in the sky, the horizon turns into a breathtaking scene as clouds roll in and the surrounding mountains and forests transform into a living tapestry.