The Dharmawangsa Jakarta offers up a dramatic setting for enjoying one of the finest afternoon tea sets in the Indonesian capital.
In Jakarta, afternoon tea has become a popular setting for high society ladies looking to socialize (and gossip) with their friends in a more refined setting than one of the capital’s many boisterous malls. And while there are certainly many a fine afternoon tea service in Jakarta, few can match the uniquely Indonesian flavor and refined setting of the service at the Majapahit Lounges of The Dharmawangsa Jakarta.
The Dharmawangsa Jakarta, located in the upscale Kebayoran Baru neighborhood, has at its heart the Majapahit Hall, which exemplifies the hotel’s intimate connection to Indonesian history and culture. The Majapahit Empire was the major power on the Indonesian Archipelago from the 13th to the 15th century, bringing together disparate kingdoms and paving the way for the modern Indonesian state. The Majapahit Hall’s centerpiece is a magnificent 14th century temple house. The Hall’s four doorways each lead to magnificent lounges adorned with a tasteful array of Indonesian art and artifacts. The Tea Lounge, in particular, offers scenic views of the hotel’s immaculately manicured lawns and gardens. In the afternoon, the lounges are bathed in warm natural light and filled with the gentle sounds of musicians playing traditional Indonesian instruments, creating an ambiance of serene elegance.
It is an ideal setting for enjoying a relaxed round of socializing over tea and snacks. The Dharmawangsa Jakarta offers a special tea set (which is available in the morning or afternoon) which comes with a tantalizing variety of treats to complement your tea, or another beverage of your choosing. Yes, even though it is a tea set, The Dharmawangsa understands that not everybody is a tea lover. So in addition to an excellent selection of black teas (English, earl grey, darjeeling and lapsang souchong), green teas (gun powder , sencha and jasmine) and flavoured/herbal teas blends (such as chamomile, citrons, jardin bleu, tropical, sweet fruit and freshness fruit), you may also order your tea set with a coffee, such as a cappuccino or espresso.
The more adventurous might want to try one of their uniquely Indonesian drinks such as bir pletok, which is not an alcoholic beer, but a spiced drink made with a bevy of aromatic ingredients including ginger, lemongrass, pandan leaves, black pepper, star anise and clove. The traditional Betawi beverage, which is quite difficult to find elsewhere in Jakarta these days, is said to be good for digestion and circulation. You can also order wedang jahe, an Indonesian tea strongly infused with the sharp taste of fresh ginger mixed with palm sugar, or kopi tubruk, a traditional Indonesian coffee preparation that produces a thick, sweet brew similar to Turkish coffee.
Whether you choose tea or another drink, the selection of light bites that come with them are uniformly delicious. Every tea set comes with a tiered tray loaded with sandwiches, pastries and a variety of traditional Indonesian snacks. The savory finger sandwiches include luscious fillings including salmon, melon, roast beef and turkey ham. Another tray features sweet treats such as fruit and chocolate tarts, mille feuilles and mousse cakes. Each of these are created fresh daily, just like the superlative scones that also come with the set. Featuring just the right balance of crusty exterior, chewy interior and plump raisins, The Dharmawangsa’s scones are easily amongst the best in Indonesia. Eaten with the accompanying clotted cream and jam, they might make you momentarily forget about all the other goodies that come with the set.
But the most interesting complement to their afternoon tea, for many, will be the selection of Indonesian sweets and savories (referred to as jajanan pasar, literally market snacks) many which you can watch being made in-house. These include kue cucur, a steamed cake made from rice flour and palm sugar, lapis legit, a layered cake flavoured with pandan leave, kroket, the Indonesian version of the Dutch croquette, and clorot, a rice flour cake steamed in coconut leaves. For many Indonesians, these snacks will bring back fond memories of childhood, while foreign visitors will get to experience something new and unique to go with their brew. Either way, it all adds up to an experience that anybody with an interest in a truly refined, truly Indonesian take on afternoon tea has to try.